NIU hosts Marathon Oil in final exhibition game

By Carl Ackerman

Just one preseason test stands before the NIU men’s basketball team and the start of its regular season, and that test will be Tuesday at 7:05.

The Huskies will host the Amateur Athletic Union team Marathon Oil, which is a traveling group of players from midwest schools.

“They’re a good group of athletes. They really like a fast-paced game and like to get up and down the floor as much as they can. They like to shoot (three-pointers), and have an excellent offensive-rebounding team,” NIU’s assistant coach Rob Judson said.

Judson did the scouting on Marathon Oil and said they nearly had twice as many offensive rebounds as their opponents in some games.

Despite the high number of rebounds, Marathon Oil is not an overwhelmingly tall team. Judson said the tallest players are around 6-8 or 6-7. Instead, the AAU team relies on its quickness.

“(Marathon Oil) is a really athletic team. They’re strong and they jump really well. They’re hard to box out because they are not all grouped,” Judson said.

“We told our guys this (game) will be a great challenge for us because there are three things we need to do defensively,” Judson said. “We need to have a great transition defense to stop their break. We have to put in a lot of close-out situations, and we have to box out because of their great offensive rebounding. These three things are something the team really needs to work on.

“Offensively, we need to look for our discipline. We have to be doing what we’re supposed to do when we’re supposed to do it, regardless of the pressure of the game,” Judson added.

The Huskies beat Marathon Oil 89-80 last year as NIU’s Donnell Thomas tallied 27 points and snagged 11 rebounds. Stacy Arrington added 18 points and Antwon Harmon and Andrew Wells had 12 and 11 points, respectively.

NIU will be looking to extend its preseason record to 2-0 after last Tuesday’s 89-57 win over the Sydney Kings of Australia.