Men’s basketball takes on Big Ten’s Hawkeyes


By Steve Shonder

Thanksgiving won’t provide much of a break for men’s basketball as it hits the road for the first time this season.

The Huskies (2-0) will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Iowa City, Iowa. Their road trip will be short lived as they’ll return home for a one-game homestand to take on the Maine Black Bears (0-4) 1 p.m. Sunday at the Convocation Center.

“It’s a difference knowing that we have to have a different type of focus,” said junior forward Darrell Bowie. “We need more focus to be prepared and ready to go, especially at Iowa with their crowd. It’s a big-time game.”


The Hawkeyes have dominated lower-level competition, rolling through the Hampton Pirates and the North Dakota State Bison. They struggled against the No. 10 Texas Longhorns, blowing a 15-point lead, and the No. 23 Syracuse Orange at the 2K Sports Classic.

Iowa boasts a strong front court that is led by senior forward Aaron White. White is the Hawkeyes’ top scorer and a formidable defender. White, junior forward Jarrod Uthoff and junior center Adam Woodbury will give the Huskies’ big men their first real test of the season.

Iowa’s guards have struggled so far this season with key players like junior point guard Mike Gesell shooting a dreadful 28 percent. The inconsistency on the wings should force Iowa to bring the ball inside.

“They’re big, but we have some pretty skilled bigs,” said sophomore Aaric Armstead. “Our guards need to be extra aggressive on defense, helping out with the bigs, getting them a little extra back up down low.”

Head coach Mark Montgomery said the offensive play will dictate how NIU handles the Hawkeyes, who can be dangerous in transition. The ability for NIU to utilize its full court press will help establish the tone.

“If we take long 3[-pointers] and quick 3[-pointers] they’re going to get out in transition,” Montgomery said. “So, controlling the tempo, taking good shots and making them go against our set defense is going to be big.”


Maine has struggled all season. The Black Bears have allowed 90-plus points in three of their four games, allowing an average of 89.5 points per game, which gives them, statistically, the third-worst defense in the country.

“We’re not looking at their downfalls as our advantages,” Armstead said. “We’re going to come out and play them just like any other team.”

NIU’s offense came alive against the Idaho Vandals, with four players scoring in double digits to go along with making 51 percent of their shots from the floor. The offensive display is something the Huskies expect to continue over their next stretch of games.

“We just have so many diverse guys that can score,” said redshirt senior Jordan Threloff. “Against Idaho, we had four guys in the double figures. That was really big for us. It’s hard for teams to guard just one or two guys because have so many different people that put the ball in the bucket.”