After falling to Akron in its most recent game, men’s basketball will face another strong MAC opponent when it tips off against Ohio today.
The Bobcats (11-5, 2-0 MAC) will be a strong test for the Huskies (3-11, 1-1 MAC) as they are one of the better teams in the MAC.
“It’s gonna be a huge road test,” said NIU coach Mark Montgomery. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing in the MAC, on the road it’s a tough battle and OU having five seniors doesn’t make things easier... They are gonna let us know where we’re at and where we need to get to.”
The key for the Bobcats is the experience they bring to the table by having a core of five senior starters who have developed a strong chemistry.
“They have a great feel for each other,” Montgomery said. “They have been through the wars. When you have a senior point guard who is very unselfish, he know’s how to get those guys the ball in their sweet spots. But they are battle tested so it’s a huge advantage. They have the confidence and they know what it takes to win.”
D.J. Cooper, Ohio’s senior point guard, is the key that makes its offense go. The Huskies will have to work hard to slow him down.
Cooper currently leads Ohio in scoring and is seventh in the MAC, averaging 14.7 points per game. While he is a strong scorer, he is an even better passer, as he leads the MAC in assists with 8.3 per game.
“We’re gonna have to keep him in front of us,” said freshman wing Darrell Bowie. “We can’t let him get in the paint. Once he gets in the paint, he creates for him but he also creates for others. We just need to keep him outside the arc, slow him down in transition, make sure we stop the ball first and then work our way out.”
As far as things go for the Huskies, they need to do a better job shooting the ball, as in their loss against Akron they only shot 32 percent from the field.
“We need to make sure we put the ball in the basket,” Bowie said. “Coming from Akron, we shot one for 14 from the 3-point line; to beat a top team like that, that can’t happen. Putting the ball in the basket is going to be a big deal.”