Men’s basketball squad faces Texas Tech

By Wes Swietek

The similarities between the NIU men’s basketball team and its season-opening foe—Texas Tech—have been duly noted.

Both teams feature new head coaches coming from larger programs. And both the Huskies and Red Raiders are looking to push the ball up the court more than last year.

Where NIU head coach Brian Hammel hopes the similarities end is in the result of their season opener, Monday at 7:00 p.m.

The Red Raiders hosted North Texas Saturday and dropped an 81-76 decision.

Despite Texas Tech’s 8-23 mark last year which resulted in the hiring of a new coach, James Dickey, a former assistant under Eddie Sutton at Arkansas and Kentucky, Hammel feels his team will have its hands full against the Southwest Conference foe.

“Size will certainly be a factor. They have nine guys that are 6-5 and over who are also pretty doggone good athletes,” Hammel said.

“Of course the idea that size will be a factor won’t be unusual to us this year. Bottom line, Texas Tech is a well-disciplined, well-drilled team that competes in an ever-improving basketball league with teams like Arkansas, Texas, Houston and Rice,” he added.

Hammel, a former assistant under George Raveling at Southern California, leads a squad that was 3-0 against Texas teams last year.

The Red Raiders are led by sophomore center Will Flemons. Flemons led the SWC in rebounds as a freshman before injuring his foot and sitting out the second half of the season.

Seven other letter winners return for Texas Tech, including three starters.

The Huskies split their exhibition games going into Monday’s opener, winning their final preseason exhibition, 94-88 over Marathon Oil last week.

The game marks the first contest between the two schools.

The Red Raiders, under ex-coach Gerald Meyers, finished tied for seventh last season in the tough SWC with a 4-12 mark.

The Huskies stay on the road for their next game at Marquette on Thursday, Nov. 28 at noon.