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2011-12 Season Tipoff: The Northern Illinois Huskies

Tonight is a night of celebration. It is the official debut of the newly renovated Mackey Arena. The $100 million+ renovation was a much needed face lift to our beloved home of Boilermaker basketball. After all, we need to reinforce the roof for all the banners that coach Painter will be hanging throughout the tenure of his new contract.

Speaking of banners, there will be a new one tonight as JaJuan Johnson will have his new All-American banner hanging from the rafters. It is one of many new features that will be displayed tonight. Lost in all the celebration is that an actual, live basketball game will take place tonight against the Northern Illinois Huskies. I won't be in attendance. I have given my seats to my parents tonight since the official mom of Hammer & Rails has her birthday on Sunday and she is the one responsible for my addiction to sports (specifically basketball). While we're all expecting a Boiler victory, here is what the Huskies present:

Northern Illinois Huskies

2010-11 Record: 9-21, 5-11 MAC West

Blog Representation: Red and Black Attack

Series With Purdue: Purdue Leads 1-0

Last Meeting: Purdue won 112-85 on 12/7/1971

As you can see from the record, the Huskies were not a good team last season. Of their nine victories, one was over a non-Division I team. Their non-conference victories were over Maryland-Eastern Shore, Illinois-Chicago, and Utah Valley State. Two of their five conference victories were over an equally bad Eastern Michigan.

The Rockford Register Star had the following to say about the upcoming season:

The men's team features a new coach and nine new players. Neither the men's nor the women's team returns anyone who averaged 10 points last year. Or as many as seven rebounds. Women's coach Kathi Bennett, in her second year, is as close as the Huskies come to continuity for the 2011-12 basketball season.

But that's OK. The Huskies were overdue for a drastic basketball makeover. The men's team is coming off a school-record five consecutive 20-loss seasons and has had a losing record 13 of the last 15 years.

Moribund is how you could describe the Huskies and their recent history. They have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1996 and have never won a game there in three visits. With nine newcomers it is difficult to get a grasp on who the top performers should be. Xavier Silas averaged 22.3 points per game and was the only double figures scorer last season, but he is gone. Tim Toler, a local player from Indianapolis, is the highest leading scorer. The 6'7" 275 pound forward  from Avon High School shot nearly 46% from the field and almost 40% from three-point land.

Northern Illinois was not a good shooting team last year. They hit only 41% from the field in 2010-11, and worse than 70% from the line. They still managed to average 69 points per game, but they had 428 turnovers in 30 games.

It's hard to have a preview when there are nine new players on the roster. Still, it is an inexperienced team playing under a first year coach. They have to come in and play in what amounts to a marquee game as we debut the shine on our new digs. We should expect a comfortable win tonight.