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Preseason Preview: Northern Illinois

Team Generic

Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We have moved from the true dogs of the schedule into the more quality but still easily winnable buy games. The first of which is our neighbors just to the south, the Huskies of Northern Illinois.

Team: Northern Illinois Huskies
16-17 Record: 15-17 (7-11 MAC)
Postseason?: Noooope
16-17 KenPom: 205
Date: 12/18/17
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center
Coach: Mark Montgomery (7th season)
Projected KenPom Range: 225-275
Projected Conference Finish: 9/12 in the MAC

Departures from 16-17
Dontel Highsmith: Starting G: 24.0 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .406 FG%, .311 3P% (Graduate transferred to Cleveland State)
Aaric Armstead: Starting G: 30.4 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .333 FG%, .298 3P% (Graduated)
Marin Maric: Starting C: 28.5 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.3 tpg, .568 FG%, .227 3P% (Graduate transferred to Depaul)
Laytwan Porter: 1st Man off the Bench: 19.1 mpg, 6.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.2 tpg, .393 FG%, .403 3P% (Transferred to Langston University)
Marshawn Wilson: 4th Man off the Bench: 14.4 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.9 tpg, .354 FG%, .294 3P% (Transferred, destination still unknown)
Austin Pauga: 5th Man off the Bench: 13.3 mpg, 3.2 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.2 tpg, .372 FG%, .359 3P% (Left team for personal reasons)
Sean Damska: Benchwarmer: 2.6 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.1 tpg, .667 FG%, .000 3P% (only appeared in 7 games) (Graduated)
Nick Wagner: Benchwarmer: Did not appear in any games (Transferred to Iowa Lakes Community College)
58% of scoring, 55% of rebounding, 65% of assists, 68% of steals, 64% of blocks, 71% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Donte Thorpe: JUCO SG from D2 JUCO Triton College, ranked #99 JUCO per JucoRecruiting
Owen Hamilton: 3 star C, ranked #501 by 247Sports
Anastasios Demogerontas: JUCO PF from Moraine Valley Community College
Andrew Zelis: Backup C, returns from redshirt
Rod Henry-Hayes: 2 star SG, unranked
Gairges Daow: 2 star SG, unranked
Marlo Brown: 2 star SF, unranked
Lacey “LJ” James: Transfer Walk On C from Rider
Brennan Woods: Walk on SG
Brandon Danowski: Walk on PG

Probable Starters:
PG: Justin Thomas: 5-11 180 lb SO: 17.0 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .470 FG%, .059 3P%
SG: Eugene German: 6-0 175 lb SO: 17.1 mpg, 9.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .472 FG%, .281 3P%
SF: Dante Thorpe: 6-4 195 lb RSJR: 31.6 mpg, 20.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.6 apg, 2.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.2 tpg, .566 FG%, .452 3P% (stats for JUCO D2 Triton College)
PF: Levi Bradley: 6-7 210 lb JR: 22.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .411 FG%, .250 3P%
C: Jaylen Key: 6-8 230 lb JR: 21.8 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.3 tpg, .488 FG%, .464 3P%

Probable Bench:
Anastasios Demogerontas: 6-7 210 lb JR PF
Owen Hamilton: 7-0 255 lb FR C
Andrew Zelis: 7-0 255 lb RSSR C
Noah McCarty: 6-7 240 lb SO PF
Rod Herny-Hayes: 6-4 180 lb FR SG
Gairges Daow: 6-4 190 lb FR SG

Probable Benchwarmers:
Marlo Brown: 6-5 200 lb FR SF
Lacey “LJ” James: 6-9 235 lb RSSO C
Jon Siu: 6-5 185 lb JR SG
Brennan Woods: 6-4 200 lb FR SG
Brandon Danowski: 5-11 180 lb FR PG

Notes:

• Northern Illinois was a very vanilla buy game level team last season. With a KenPom rating of near 200 they were perfect for an easy win that wasn’t going to damage your SOS and RPI too much. Going into the 17-18 season, they look like they might be a little less than that. They lose their team leaders in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and 3P% and the only recruits of note are two JUCO transfers from the D2 level. One bit of hope comes from Coach Mark Montgomery. Coach Montgomery inherited a dumpster fire winning only 10 games in his first two seasons. Since then he has put up 4 consecutive seasons with at least 15 wins. He even led them to a 21 win season in 15-16 and a “postseason” appearance in the Vegas 16. That was the second most wins in NIU program history. If the trend continues than the Huskies should end up being a decent buy game for Marquette.
• NIU only featured one double digit scorer last season, Croatian sensation Marin Maric. He graduate transferred this offseason though don’t fret, Marquette will still see him as he ended up with the Depaul Blue Demons. The options for replacing the big man are limited, but the job will likely fall to one of two Wisconsin natives. The first is junior Jaylen Key. The Milwaukee product is more of a power forward but he is the leading returning rebounder and shot blocker. He also displayed an accurate though limited touch from deep, netting 13 treys with over 45% accuracy. The other is true freshman Owen Hamilton. Hamilton averaged a double double for Prescott high school, earning him a three star rating in most recruiting services. A traditional center, Hamilton is 7 feet tall and while raw, could see immediate playing time in the post.
• The key recruit for the Huskies is JUCO transfer Dante Thorpe. Thrope barely made the cut for JucoRecruiting’s top 100 JUCO list, checking in at #99. Thorpe led D2 Triton College to a 30-3 record including a 14-1 record in conference. He was on of the few JUCOs from the D2 level to make the cut and he got there by averaging over 20 points a game. Thorpe was a superior athlete to most of his opponents at that level and used that create turnovers and score in transition. He demonstrated an ability to score at all three levels, including shooting over 45% from deep. There is a huge difference between D2 NJCAA and Division 1 ball, but Thorpe is one of the few from that level who could come in a make an immediate impact.
• NIU was a poor outside shooting team making only 161 three pointer all season with 31% accuracy, both numbers good for the bottom third of D1. With their top 4 three point shooters all departing, they look to be impossibly bad from range this season. Eugene German is the leading returning three point shooter with 16 makes last season.

Prediction:
Northern Illinois falls behind early and never comes close to catching up. Marquette’s three point barrage is simply too much and the Huskies lack any sort of firepower to try and match. The lead gets to double digits by the 2nd media timeout and only extends from there. Marquette walks away with a comfortable 20 to 25 point margin of victory.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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