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The State of NIU Basketball

March Madness is in full swing and I'm disappointed that Northern Illinois wasn't in any of the 4 tournaments that are now out there to play in.  Oh, how badly the students here want to experience some sort of life coming from the basketball team.  This season was fairly exciting and more fans seemed to get involved as the year went on.  It was our best year since 2006 when we went 17-11.  After Rob Judson's 7-23 season in 2007 he was fired.

Last year was the first year for Coach Ricardo Patton and these Huskies.  There were a lot of growing pains and there still is.  Last year was a mishmash of Judson players and Patton players, while injury and departures played a large part of the losing season.  Let's compare the 2008 stats where we went 6-22 with this season that just ended at 10-20:

4 Factors

Stat 2008 Rank 2009 Rank
Effective FG% 296th 225th
Effective FG% on D 281st 234th
Turnover % 329th 301st
Turnover % on D 194th 63rd
Off. Reb. % 113th 129th
Def. Reb. % 168th 200th
FTA/FGA 169th 71st
FTA/FGA on D 312nd 296th

What do these stats mean?  Here's more on the 4 factors to winning at basketball.  All of these stats have been taken from the CBB mecca of stats sites:

  • Our efficiency on offense has improved to a much more respectable level than last year's showing.  This is a combination of improvement on offense and the fact that our Strength of Schedule in 2009 was 295th compared to 2008's 135th ranked SOS.
  • There was a little bit of improvement on not turning the ball over, but that will go down as our freshman point guards in Dinunno and Hall continue to develop their skills.  We're still in the bottom quarter of the nation in this statistic.
  • One thing we did great this season was forcing turnovers on the defensive side of the ball, bouncing up over 100 spots in this department.  The problem is that we still foul too much, ranking 296th in the nation giving up free throw shots.
  • Rebounding % was down, but that was only expected after losing big men Shaun Logan and Egan Grafel.
  • There was also a nice boost in getting to the line to shoot free throws, but we really struggled with putting those baskets in.

Misc. Stats

Stat 2008 2009
3P% 46.4 - 330th 34.4 - 145th
3P% D 40.3 - 334th 37.2 - 314th
2P% 47.1 - 227th 45.9 - 258th
2P% D 48.1 - 145th 47.9 - 155th
FT% 67.9 - 206th 58.8 - 342nd
Block% 80th 293rd
Block% D 90th 163rd
Steal% 234th 275th
Steal% D 237th 54th
  • NIU had a huge improvement in shooting baskets from beyond the arc improving to one of the worst in the nation to above average at 34.4%.  Our perimeter D continues to struggle, but improved about 3% from last year.  Part of that could be part of how they pushed the 3P line back a little bit before this recent season.
  • 2P% was a little bit down because of a lack of a really big inside presence this season.  Defense on that end was about the same.
  • Shooting free throws was just about the worst part about watching the team play this year.  This year they got to the line plenty of times and just making those baskets would have resulted in a win or two more this season.
  • On offense, this young team had a lot more shots blocked on them than last year.  This is mostly inexperience.  On defense, we missed Grafel and Logan again blocking those shots.  Kowal and Ervin did a respectable job this year blocking shots.
  • We still get the ball stolen from us way too much, but we were throwing a lot of true freshmen and sophomores out there handling the ball from the point.  Hopefully there will be a huge improvement next year in this department.  On defense, we really got after it improving to the top quarter of the nation in steals.

Things are looking up for this basketball team.  The only things that we need extreme improvement in are shooting free throws and not turning the ball over.  A lot of the time, I felt that we deferred way too much to the outside game instead of forcing the ball inside.  Hopefully, our big men will improve and our young guards will mature and will not have anymore foolish turnovers on offense.  I like where this team is going and next time we'll look at exactly what the roster is going to look like for next year.