December 14, 2012 in Division I
Like any freshman point guard at the Division I level, Detroit Consortium grad Travon Baker, who plays at Northern Illinois, has had his ups and downs so far. But, via Ross Jacobson of the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, the fact that Baker has another freshman point guard, Daveon Balls, going through the same things on the team has helped both players:
“Definitely, when you’re talking to one, you’re speaking to both,” NIU coach Mark Montgomery said. “Every day they go bring it in practice because they are competing for that spot. [Baker] started the season, then [Balls] took over the spot, and now [Baker] has it back, so we’re in a good world right now because we have two who can play the position.”
NIU’s young roster struggled to a 5-26 record last season as more than half of the team’s minutes were played by freshmen. Montgomery knew that number wasn’t going to decline much as Baker and Balls were proclaimed the front-runners to be the starting point guard in preseason.
Baker and Balls, along with NIU’s entire freshman class, were aided by a new NCAA rule that allowed coaches to spend two hours each week practicing with the team during the summer.
“It helped a lot because we already had a jump start than the year before had,” Baker said. “We already knew the plays, the drills.”