Ross Jacobson: It’s Year 2 of the Mark Montgomery era in DeKalb. The Huskies field a plethora of newcomers to the roster, but return a lot of their production from last year. Montgomery woudn’t publicly state any win-loss goals for the Huskies at the team’s media day, but what do you think are fair expectations for this group? It couldn’t be worse than last year’s 5-26 record, could it?
Steve Nitz: Well, I certainly don’t expect 2012-13 to be any worse than last season’s 5-26 mark. However, I think 10 or so wins is a good benchmark for a program that only has two seniors. Let’s face it, Montgomery inherited a complete mess when he took over for Ricardo Patton after the 2010-11 season. It’s going to be a rebuilding process for the Huskies. We’ll see what this team looks like in a couple of years, when the young players getting valuable experience will be juniors and seniors.
Jacobson: Double-digit wins sounds about right for this team. They aren’t nearly ready to take a huge leap forward, but there should be definite improvement now that they have gotten used to Montgomery’s coaching style.
Is there a game early on that might be a good barometer for this team? Valparaiso? Loyola?
Nitz: First of all, let me say that I like how NIU is playing in-state schools such as Loyola, UIC and DePaul. It’s too bad the school down in Champaign doesn’t like scheduling other schools in the state.
As for possible barometers for NIU, I think UIC and Loyola fit that description. Both programs had rough seasons last year, and Loyola and UIC have relatively new coaches, like the Huskies. Flames coach Howard Moore is in his third season, while the Ramblers’ Porter Moser is beginning his second season with the program.
Jacobson: It took NIU 12 games last year to garner its first victory of the regular season. When will the Huskies get their first win this year?
Nitz: Fairly easy question – Nov. 18 against Judson University. Not sure why NIU decided it had to schedule an NAIA school. I see the Huskies getting an easy victory here.
Now, when will the Huskies’ first victory against a real team be? I’ll say NIU will beat Loyola on Nov. 24 in DeKalb.