The Daily Chronicle's Steve Nitz answers your NIU- and MAC-related questions right here. Look for a new installment of questions and answers each week. Submit your questions to Steve on Twitter @SNitz_DDC or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question from Ted Yancey:
I’m hoping you might be able to help me out. Are we completely hopeless in hoops again this year, especially early in the year with so many freshmen getting playing time?
It seems like we played our best basketball last year when we tried to slow things down and be more efficient offensively (i.e., getting everybody good looks, etc.). But now, I’m hearing chatter that this year’s team will look to play more up-tempo. So, which is it? Do you think we play faster in 2012-13 (relative to last year), or can we expect the status quo. We’re pretty rough at point guard, and that seems like a pretty big concern, no?
Also, what's up with Antone, Abdel and Nixon all missing the exhibition?
Any thoughts would be great. Thanks, and good luck this year.
Thanks for your questions Ted, I'll try and answer all of them. First of all, I don't want to use the word hopeless, but I'd say 10 wins is a safe expectation for the Huskies this season. It's going to be a couple of years before the program rebounds from the mess Ricardo Patton created. Like you said, a lot of freshmen will get playing time, but we'll see what those guys look like two seasons from now.
I'd expect the Huskies to play pretty fast this season, and Montgomery said the team has the athleticism to do that. We'll see what the two freshman point guards, Daveon Balls and Travon Baker are made of. I'd certainly expect some growing pains there, and I'd say the point guard position is a concern at this point.
As for the three players who missed Saturday's exhibition, Antone Christian and Abdel Nader were supposedly held out as a precaution. So, they could be on the court Friday at Nebraska Omaha. As for Nixon, at the team's annual media day a couple of weeks ago, NIU head coach Mark Montgomery said he was dealing with a foot injury. Sounds like he could be out until sometime in December.
Question from Daniel Jude:
The middle linebacker position has seen an interesting rotation. Victor Jacques, when healthy, seems to be the starter. His stats appear to be good. (Boomer) Mays has started a few games and has at times been impressive, but is inconsistent. Both struggle against the pass. I am not sure if [Michael Santacaterina] is an outside linebacker or middle linebacker, at times he is in on passing situations; he seems to be around the ball a lot. The freshman Cotton seldom plays. Who do you think will be starting, and getting most of the reps against Toledo?
Thanks for your question Daniel. I think Jacques has been NIU's best middle linebacker this year. Unfortunately, he's been banged up half the season. Jacques had a real solid game in the season-opening loss to Iowa at Soldier Field, finishing with nine tackles and half a sack, but went on to miss the next four games due to injury.
Jacques didn't play against Umass last week, but he practiced Wednesday and Thursday, so I expect to see him out there starting against Toledo.