Rookies’ greenness shaded with blue-chipper potential

By Wes Swietek

“It’s not easy being green,”—Kermit the Frog.

“It isn’t easy being a green (as in inexperienced) basketball player,”—paraphrased from NIU head basketball coach Brian Hammel.

The greenest of Hammel’s Huskies are a pair of freshman forwards, Marlin Simms and Hubert Register, who figure to be key members of the NIU squad, despite their youth.

“They’ll have to adjust, just like everyone else,” Hammel said. “College basketball is a lot more physical, a lot more intense. And it’s not just basketball, but study-time that they have to adjust to—it’s not different than any other freshman.”

The difference is on the basketball court. “Both of them will contribute highly. They’ll play a lot for us,” Hammel said.

Simms is a 6-5, 192-pounder from Nashville, Tenn. Register, 6-8 and 195, hails from Minneapolis.

“Simms is a great athlete. When God decided to make a basketball player, He made Marlin,” Hammel said.

“He’s got that God-given talent. In high school, he got by on his athletic ability. Now he needs to take his play to a higher level. He will be an outstanding player for us.”

Hammel has equally high hopes for his other freshman.

“(Register’s) skinny, but don’t let that fool you. He’s one of the best athletes on the team. He does a lot of good things inside and outside—he can run all night and he’s quick around the basket.”

But it’s not only basketball that the freshman roommates have to adjust to.

“It’s pretty hard trying to just get used to being away from home,” Simms said. On the court, the college games’ pace poses the biggest problem.

“It’s a lot more physical and intense—intense as far as constantly playing hard,” Register said. “The college players are much stronger,” Simms added.

Both players admitted to having second thoughts about coming to NIU when former coach Jim Molinari left for Bradley.

“(Transferring) crossed my mind, but I decided to see what coach Hammel was like,” said Simms, who now feels he made the right choice by staying. A feeling echoed by Register.

“Molinari told me he was leaving and I took another look at NIU,” Register said. “I decided to stay because I liked the school.”

Their decision to stay has Hammel smiling as he thinks, not of their greenness, but of their potential as blue-chippers.