The Northern Illinois men’s basketball team conducted its first official practice to open the 2011-12 season Friday. First-year head coach Mark Montgomery put the Huskies through a three-hour workout on the opening day of practice for men’s basketball programs around the country.
“The first day went great,” Montgomery said. “Our guys brought a lot of energy, they came with great effort, they communicated and everyone was very excited. As we told the guys, it’s the first day for a great journey, make sure we are positive, patient and have some fun, and I thought we had fun today.”
Montgomery begins his first season on the sidelines at NIU after spending the last 10 highly successful seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Michigan State, under head coach Tom Izzo. In a decade on the bench with the Spartans, Montgomery helped MSU reach 10 NCAA Tournaments, including three trips to the Final Four, along with winning two Big Ten regular season championships.
The Huskies youthful 2011-12 roster features just five returners from a season ago.
Senior Tim Toler (Indianapolis, Ind./Avon) is the leading returning scorer and rebounder for the Huskies. Toler averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.
Redshirt sophomore Antone Christian (Nashville, Tenn./Martin Luther King Magnet) came on at the end of last season, averaging 9.4 points per game over the final 14 games of the season. Senior Tyler Storm (Geneseo, Ill./Geneseo) and junior Tony Nixon (South Holland, Ill./Seton Academy) also return and bring much needed experience to the Huskie lineup, sophomore Aksel Bolin (Asker, Norway/Asker) is the fifth returnee for the Huskies.
NIU welcomes a host of newcomers to its 2011-12 roster, including four signees from the Chicago area: twin forwards Keith and Kevin Gray from Chicago Brooks Academy, guard Zach Miller from Glenbard East and wing Abdel Nader from Niles North.
Nader was selected as the Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the Year in the Lindy’s College Basketball Preview magazine.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.