Men’s hoops looks to subdue Vandals


Junior wing Darrell Bowie (10) drives to the basket Saturday at the Convocation Center in the game against the Aurora Spartans. Four Huskies scored nine or more points in the 86-56 victory.

By Steve Shonder

he name of the game for men’s basketball will be defending the perimeter as it takes on a hot 3-point shooting Idaho Vandals team.

The Huskies (1-0) play host to the Vandals (2-0) 8 p.m. today at the Convocation Center. NIU is fresh off an 86-56 win over the Aurora Spartans Saturday.

The Vandals are coming off an impressive win of their own. Monday, they knocked off the South Dakota State Jackrabbits when senior point guard Mike Scott hit a 3-pointer with 0:10 left. The 3-pointer is an important part of the Vandals’ offense and is something the Huskies will have to be wary of.

“Anytime you’re dealing with 3-point shooters you have to stay glued to them,” said redshirt senior Anthony Johnson. “There are certain times you can help off, but, you know, there are certain situations where you have [to be] closer to the shooters. Those types of things make their shots tough.”

Through two games, Idaho is making 46.4 percent of its 3-pointers, and that’s without senior guard Connor Hill, who owns the Idaho mark for most career 3-pointers made with 236, finding his stride. Through two games, the Vandals are ranked 30th in 3-point shooting.

Hill and Scott give the Vandals strong play from the guard position and should provide a challenge for the Huskies’ defense. Scott, in particular, has been the key factor in Idaho’s offense.

“We’re going to try and slow him down,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “We’ll try to pick up him full court. It’s not just individual matchup; we’ll have to have great help off the ball. A key to the game is keeping their guards and their point guards in front of us.”

The Huskies had a hard time hanging onto the ball against Aurora, committing 22 turnovers. Junior guard Travon Baker said winning the turnover battle is going to be on his mind.

“Taking care of the ball is … big with me,” Baker said. “I feel like I will do a better job with that. I had a couple offensive fouls, couple charges that got me in negative turnovers. Taking care of the ball is a big thing, and I will do better.”

Idaho is a fairly inexperienced team that’s going through a youth movement with only six upperclassmen on its roster. The Vandals also don’t rely on their bench for big minutes. Senior forward Bira Seck and freshman Arkadiy Mkrtychyan got the bulk of the minutes in the front court against South Dakota State. The front court split its minutes across four players, two of whom were underclassmen.

The heavy use of Beck and Mkrtychyan should help the Huskies’ front court depth win the battle on the interior.

“We have to pound the ball inside,” Montgomery said. “We have to get their bigs to guard multiple things in different possessions. We’re going to have to use our patience to take advantage of that.”

The interior play helped the Huskies get to the free throw line 35 times against Aurora, and they want that trend to continue. Johnson said the depth NIU has at the guard position will help with continuing that advantage and spreading it to other parts of the offense.

“With [the] guards that we have getting to the paint, putting pressure on the officials and other players is something that’s one of our strengths,” Johnson said. “From there, you can get to the line, and then we have kick outs to open shots. I think that’s really one of our strong suits.”