Silas improves skills, believes Huskies are poised for success


NIU senior guard Xavier Silas dribbles during practice Wednesday.

By Chris Dertz

With the roster upheaval that the NIU men’s basketball team underwent in the offseason, the lineup has been in flux.

But one thing is for sure: senior guard Xavier Silas is going to be a leader for this Huskie team.

After being named to the preseason All-MAC West team, Silas took some time to sit down with the Northern Star to talk about his summer, being a leader and his goals.

Northern Star: You had kind of a crazy summer, traveling all over. What part of your game did you most improve?

Xavier Silas: My ball-handling and defense definitely are the most improved things. Last year, if I had to pick two things that’d probably be my weakness, I don’t think I handled the ball too much. I think I can do that more comfortably now. And defense, just zeroing in and playing with a different kind of energy and focus on the defensive end. It brings a whole different element to my game and I like it.

NS: How have you taken it upon yourself to be a leader for this team, especially with six new players?

XS: It’s just doing it, you know what I mean? You can talk about it, you can be selected a captain, you can be appointed this and that, but it doesn’t matter unless you actually do what needs to be done. Leading by example, and leading by being vocal. I can’t say I’m a leader and then come into practice all quiet and not telling people that they’re doing something wrong or not congratulating them for doing something right.

NS: Other than Kyree [Jones], who’s hurt, how are those young guys gelling with the team?

XS: The only other young guy is Aksel Bolin, and he’s played on those national teams so he’s been competitive close to this level before, so I’m not really worried about him. He’s going to be OK. He’s the sleeper that people don’t really know about. He’s going to come in and help us a lot. Nate Rucker is just a dog. It doesn’t matter his age or his experience, when you play like that; when you play hard, it doesn’t matter. It might take them a couple games to get [ready], but conference play is what matters.

NS: What are some of your goals as a team this year?

XS: Our goal is to win the MAC and the MAC Championship. First it starts with being first in the MAC, then we’re trying to win that MAC Tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament and make some noise and compete for a national championship. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. I’m not going to say just because I’m at Northern Illinois I’m not going to compete for a national championship. We’re going to go and we’re going to try and play, and win as much as we can and go as far as we can.

NS: What about your goals individually?

XS: I need a banner in the Convocation Center. I need a MAC Championship banner in the Convocation Center. I can score all the points in the world, but if I don’t have any wins, then it doesn’t mean anything.