Created:Tuesday, November 3, 2009 10:30 p.m.CDT
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NIU basketball media day

By JOHN SAHLY - jsahly@daily-chronicle.com
Mike DiNunno moves the ball during an NIU basketball practice on October 21, 2009 in DeKalb. (Rob Winner – rwinner@daily-chronicle.com)

DeKALB – The natural question that arose from Northern Illinois' exhibition victory against Aurora University was why junior guard Jake Anderson saw more time at point guard than normal.

Tuesday, at the team's media day, Anderson and coach Ricardo Patton provided a few answers.

Patton said Anderson at the point and Mike DiNunno at the shooting guard spot could serve as a different look for the Huskies this season.

"[DiNunno] did that in high school some so it's not entirely new to him," Patton said. "He's still our point guard but there are times when that other lineup makes sense. It's not the lineup. It's an alternative lineup."

Anderson, who came off the bench and had four assists and two points against Aurora, said he actually is pretty comfortable playing the point and moving to shooting guard at NIU was a new experience for him.

"I've been playing point guard my whole life," Anderson said. "It's nothing new to me."

Anderson and Patton agreed that Anderson putting his name in the NBA draft played a role in what will be an occasional move to the point.

"My height alone. I'm a short guy, especially on that level," the 6-foot-2 Anderson said. "There are people up there that are 6-foot-9 bringing up the ball."

Junior guard Xavier Silas said he likes Anderson at the point because of what the preseason All-Mid-American Conference West guard can do with the ball in his hands.

"I think having Jake at the point, it's hard to guard us because he's such a threat," Silas said. "He can get in the lane and dish. It's the same thing with DiNunno. I think we have options and that's a good thing about the team is we have options."

Boosting attendance: Athletic director Jeff Compher said there will be some changes at games in the Convocation Center to try and raise attendance levels.

Compher's main idea is an ongoing dodgeball tournament at halftime among various student groups, leading to a winner at the end of the season.

"I'm really looking forward to that because I'm learning more about dodgeball," Compher said. "[Deputy athletics director] Glen [Krupica] pointed out to me that we used to call it bombardment when we were kids. But there's actually like rules and everything for it. ... I think that will be a lot of fun and draw some good student excitement to it."

Some of the other ideas include doing less promotional activities in the final 10 minutes of a game and having the band play more and the cheerleaders be more active. NIU averaged 1,806 fans at home last season, which was ninth in the MAC.

"Those last 8 to 4 minutes really mean something to the outcome of our games so we're going to be focused on that and how we can get a great atmosphere the last few minutes at all of our games," Compher said.

New drill: Women's basketball coach Carol Owens incorporated a creative new exercise to practice on Monday to try to work on the team's communication.

The players partnered up and one was a thrower, the other a shielder. The throwers had to tag out the shielders with a ball. There was one catch, though.

The throwers were blindfolded.

"It was very interesting," she said. "When we talked about it we said sometimes saying one word or two words is not enough. Saying or being more detailed to the instructions that you want is key.

"There was a lot of talking. It was fun. I think they got a lot out of it."

Given a full slate of games against Big Ten teams, which team finishes with the best record?
NIU
Purdue
Northwestern