‘Man of emotion’ leads NIU in victory over Blue Demons

By Sean Ostruszka

James Hughes may have been named MVP, but make no mistake about who’s the catalyst for this team.

With his waving arms, fist pumps, and face-engulfing smile, Todd Peterson is fast becoming the man of emotion for the NIU men’s basketball team.

So far this season, the senior has averaged 14 points per game, which leads the team. But it’s what doesn’t show up in the box score that has set Peterson apart.

“I get fired up,” Peterson said. “Basketball is what I love to do … and I try to show a lot of emotion.”

In last night’s game against DePaul, No. 32 was the team’s emotion. In the huddle he was the one who talked, and he was the one who encouraged the crowd to get loud.

And just when the team needed him most, Peterson was there.

With 3:45 left in the game, DePaul’s Draelon Burns hit a three-pointer to knot the game up at 62. It was the first time the Blue Demons had a share of the lead since it was 37-36 with 16:22 in the second half.

NIU coach Rob Judson immediately called a time out, and drew up a play for Peterson in the huddle.

And 33 seconds after losing its lead, NIU had it back.

Peterson came off a screen by Mike McKinney and hit a three-pointer while being knocked to the floor.

As DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said, “You win horse contests with that shot.”

Peterson’s circus shot gave NIU the boost it needed and it never trailed again.

A few more hand slaps, a chest bump with McKinney, and an endless smile later, Peterson and the Huskies walked away victorious.

Peterson ended the game with 12 points, five rebounds, and his 33 minutes was the most of any player in the game.

But it was his emotion that was his largest contribution.

When asked after the game about his emotional play Peterson flashed his smile and looked to teammate James Hughes.

“Do I really do that?” he joked.