NIU, WIU looking to move up

By Wes Swietek

As the Mid-Continent Conference race starts to take shape, two squads looking to move up from the middle of the pack square off Saturday at Macomb.

Coach Brian Hammel’s Huskies (3-3, 5-10) take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks (2-2, 6-7) in a 7:30 p.m. conference match.

The already depleted Huskies, down to nine players, will probably be without the services of leading scorer Brian Molis who is nursing a badly sprained ankle. Marlin Simms is listed as “probable” for Saturday’s game after suffering a scratched cornea against Wright State.

But the biggest problem for NIU might be the Leatherneck’s shooting.

“When it comes to league games, Western Illinois is shooting the ball really well,” Hammel said. “While they’re enjoying some outstanding play by their shooters, a lot of that percentage is taken off of rebounds.

“We got a lot of second shots against Wright State, but unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize as well as WIU appears to be.”

The Leathernecks’ solid shooting is evident in Western’s 52 percent shooting accuracy from the floor and 48 percent shooting from beyond the three-point stripe.

The Leathernecks are led by senior guard Preston Lewis (14.5 ppg.), forward Jack Forcine (13.8) and junior college addition Juvon McGarry (10.8).

“They have a solid blend going between their returnees and junior college additions,” Hammel said.

The Leathernecks are coming off a 78-68 win at Cleveland State

NIU won two close decisions from WIU last year, 69-68 and 59-57.