Men’s hoops to battle DePaul


Redshirt junior center Pete Rakocevic cheers as the Huskies (13-14, 7-8 MAC) head toward an upset victory over the Toledo Rockets (23-5, 11-4 MAC), 74-66, last season in the Convocation Center. The crowd rushed the court following the win.

By Steve Shonder

After countering a 21-point deficit with a 28-2 run, men’s basketball is looking to continue its success when it invades DePaul’s home court.

The Huskies (3-1) will face off against the DePaul Blue Demons (3-1) 8 p.m. today at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The game will air on Fox Sports 1.

DePaul is riding high off an upset of the Stanford Cardinal, 87-72, Sunday. Junior Myke Henry, a transfer from the Illinois Fighting Illini, led the way for the Blue Demons, scoring 29 points. They also had two other starters, sophomore Tommy Hamilton IV and senior Jamee Crockett, score in double digits.

Redshirt sophomore Michael Orris has a good idea of what to expect from Henry and especially Crockett. Orris and Crockett played together at Crete-Monee High School, and as a former Illinois commit, he often played with Henry at Illinois.

“Me and [Crockett] had some fun years at Crete together,” Orris said. “We’re really close friends, and we’ve been looking forward to this game. He’s [a] very high-energy, very high-flying guy. He can really jump [and] can really shoot the ball. He has an all-around game.”

Hamilton, Crockett, Henry and sophomore Billy Garrett Jr. are averaging point-per-game totals in the double digits. The Blue Demons are averaging 78.3 points per game, which is 42nd in the nation.

Like the Huskies, DePaul runs an up-tempo offense that utilizes an aggressive full-court press. Forcing turnovers has helped DePaul stretch its leads. Junior Durrell McDonald is second in the Big East with 10 steals.

“We worked on press breaking from day one in practice,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “It’s no different in any game. That’s something we practice on every day. … We just can’t let our turnovers lead to easy layups and dunks for them.”

The Huskies are riding just as high as DePaul. After a 21-point loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes Wednesday, NIU rebounded from another 21-point deficit against the Maine Black Bears, pulling off the win with 28-2 run in the final 10 minutes of the game.

The key for NIU will be to set the tone early. In their last two games, the Huskies’ slow starts enabled Iowa and Maine to establish their tempos and play their games.

“We just need to knock down our shots when we have them and take them with confidence. Being steady, getting the ball into the post and getting kick outs is where we thrive at the most,” said junior Travon Baker.