Let's have a warm welcome for Red and Black Attack's brand new basketball writer, huskieod09. Good luck to you sir and make sure to keep your head up this season. It could be a long one. - Mike
NIU (2-8, 2-3 home) played some tough defense throughout most of this game, but in the end the combo of Juan Fernandez (26pts) and Ryan Brooks (19pts) was just too much for the Huskies to handle. NIU cut Temple's 18 point lead to 35-33 early in the second half, but that would be as close as they would get. In the end, the Huskies finally ran out of gas and Temple (11-2) pulled away as Fernandez and Brooks took over.
Despite the loss, the Huskies played very well on defense early, and finally looked like an actual college basketball team on offense at times. When they moved the ball and looked for the open shot they thrived; when they tried to play one-on-one basketball, they reminded us of why this team has only won 2 games this season.
Xavier Silas (26pts) finally showed flashes of the potential he brings to the table, by almost single-handedly rising NIU back from the dead in the first half, hitting three straight 3 pointers in a row. The combo of Silas and Jake Anderson (15pts, 7reb) could be a force to be reckoned with in the MAC, as Anderson himself had a nice game. The only difference is that Anderson finally got cold halfway through the second half and yet kept putting up ill-advised shots as NIU tried to climb back into the game.
Another bright spot tonight was the play of Lee Fisher (4pts, 5reb). The undersized forward played very well on defense, forcing turnovers and playing tough on the rebounds, showing a mean streak and desire to get to the ball. Hopefully this will rub off on the Huskies' other big men, as NIU continues to struggle with rebounds. Sean Kowal (4pts, 0reb) has shown he can be a force on the offensive side of the ball despite just 4 points against Temple, but is a liability on the defensive side. At 6-11, Kowal should be owning the paint and either block would be lay-ups or at least change the trajectory of their shots. Kowal did not grab a single rebound tonight in 19 minutes of play.
NIU's shooting continues to be a problem. The Huskies shot 35.5% from the field. Some of that is due to the fact that Temple is a great defensive team, not giving the Huskies a lot of open looks. The things that is troubling is not the fact that the Huskies are missing shots, it's the way they are missing them. A lot of the shots missed were not even close, some of them coming up way short, some of them bricks.
Mike Dinunno (3pts, 2asts) played a controlled game running the points, finishing with no turnovers but only 2 assists. However, he continues to struggle from the field, finishing 1-10, 1-6 from 3pt range. The problem that I see with Dinunno is his follow through after the shot. He snaps his hand after the ball is released instead of keeping it up nice and high. If Coach Patton can work on that, Dinunno would become a more consistent shooter, not that he has shown he is a streaky shooter or a shooter period.
Overall it was fresh to see the Huskies play inspired basketball for one night. Maybe the fact that they were facing a ranked team at home helped motivate them, or maybe Temple didn't play their best, overlooking NIU as they prepare to
travel to host Kansas and face the #1 team in the nation. Either way, this game was much closer than anyone expected. Temple is better than any opponent the Huskies will face in the MAC, so hopefully NIU will at least bring the same intensity it had tonight throughout conference play.