Hammel sees positives despite exhibition loss

By Wes Swietek

Fans, media, critics and coaches got their first glimpse of rookie coach Brian Hammel’s 1991-92 Huskies Tuesday night. And the results …

Well, while the scoreboard recorded a 92-91 NIU loss against Zalgiris, a Lithuanian club team, Hammel saw positives.

“We’ll be a pretty good basketball team,” was Hammel’s assessment, who was more interested in seeing different combinations than recording an exhibition win.

At one point late in the second half of Tuesday’s game, NIU’s lack of size was dramatically evident—all five Huskies on the court were 6-4 or under.

“That won’t be a very unusual lineup, we’re going to be a very small team,” Hammel said. “We’ll have to be a rat-pack.”

Despite the size disadvantage, NIU held its own on the boards. The Lithuanians grabbed 44 rebounds to the Huskies’ 41.

NIU’s two freshman forwards, Marlin Simms and Hubert Register made their presence known in front of the 1,801 fans in attendance.

Register tallied 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting and grabbed five rebounds. Simms scored 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting and also captured five boards.

“Those guys took two giant steps tonight. They both played very, very well,” Hammel said.

Everyone on NIU’s roster, except two walk-ons, saw action Tuesday. Hammel will be looking at more walk-ons Thursday (7 p.m.) at an open tryout at Chick Evans Field House. Anyone interested should call the basketball offices at 753-1633.

Zalgiris was playing its sixth game in six days. The Lithuanians were 1-4 entering the game with their only victory coming over Central Missouri State, 98-91.