Men’s basketball season recap


RS Junior Antone Christian drives into the lane in the game on March 2 against Central Michigan University.

By Brian Earle

Men’s basketball did not have the kind of season it would have liked to.

The Huskies (5-25, 3-13 MAC) won the same number of games they did last season overall and in conference play.

After managing to advance to the second round of the MAC tournament last season, the Huskies failed to get by Eastern Michigan in the first round, falling 45-44, which brought their season to an end.

This season presented a lot of obstacles for the Huskies. They began their season without their star player, sophomore wing Abdel Nader, who was suspended due to a team violation. They also had freshman guard Akeem Springs leave the team in the middle of the season due to personal reasons.

“I would say that our players and our coaches and our staff are resilient,” said head coach Mark Montgomery. “No matter what was thrown at us, we found a way to bounce back and compete and play hard and represent the university in a positive matter. I thought we got stronger as times went on, no matter what thrown at us or who left the team.”

Due to the absence of those two players, the Huskies’ six freshmen received lots of playing time and valuable experience.

Freshmen guards Travon Baker and Daveon Balls split time all season as the starting point guards, with Baker appearing to take over the spot down the stretch.

Freshman wing Darrell Bowie secured a starting spot in the middle of the season. He started in 19 games for the Huskies and averaged 5.9 points per game as well as 3.8 rebounds per game.

“I thought they all definitely got better as the season went on,” Montgomery said. “They gained a lot of experience. They had some high moments and some low moments, unfortunately, but you probably saw their best basketball that last week of the season… But I saw growth; unfortunately it’s not in the win column, but I saw it in the weight room, I saw it in practice, I saw it in team building.”

Despite only playing in 19 games this season, Nader was still the Huskies’ leading scorer as he averaged 13.1 points per game. He was the lone Huskie to average double figures this season and also averaged the most rebounds for the Huskies, grabbing 5.6 per game.

The sophomore led the Huskies to their biggest win of the season on Jan. 30 when they defeated Kent State, 67-65, and came up big as he hit the last-second shot. Nader also recorded his first career double-double in that game, with a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds.

That victory over the Golden Flashes also proved to be the Huskies’ last victory of the season as they lost their last 10 games of the regular season.

With young NIU players getting valuable experience and most of the team coming back, the coaching staff will expect better performances as the 2013/2014 season rolls around.