Huskies hike for mountain peak

By David Lance

“All I wanted was to get back to safe ground again and have a long rest,”—Sir Edmund Hillary, 1955.

Hillary said those words in his book High Adventure. It was his first reaction after scaling a mountain. NIU’s women’s basketball team may share the same sentiment after its season is over.

Bring your canteens full of water and your tanks full of oxygen, Huskies. You’re going on a hike.

“Our schedule is a mountain,” eighth-year NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle. “It is a very big mountain and it is one we are going to climb.

“I don’t know if we have any mountain climbers in here, but what Edmund said is, first of all, if I’m going to climb a mountain, I want to have the best people in my party that I can to climb this mountain.

“We have assembled a group of great young ladies here and a great staff and they’re going to be in this expedition up this mountain,” Albright-Dieterle said.

The Huskies won’t find goats, lions or snakes on the terrain. Instead, Wildcats, Spartans, Boilermakers and Volunteers (see schedule) will be looking to disturb their trip.

“The other thing that happens when you climb mountains is that you have a lot of crevices,” Albright-Dieterle said. “You have a lot of change in altitude, you have a lot of really horrible things, I’m sure, that happen to you. But you keep going.

“(Hillary) got to the very, very top. I’m not going to stand in front of you and tell you that our goal is to be undefeated this year, but we’re going to climb that mountain.”

The Huskies have eight players back from last year ready to begin the voyage, chief among them being captains and seniors Dee Dee Jeske and Tracy Mondek, juniors Cindy Conner, Deb Teske, Dianna Wingis and Tiana Burkholder, and sophomore Angela Lockett. Newcomers E.C. Hill and Leslie Pottinger are expected to see plenty of playing time.

Albright-Dieterle talked about them:

‘On guard/forward Jeske, who scored seven points a game last season: “Her shot selection is always perfect.”

‘On forward/center Mondek, who averaged 4.9 rebounds: “She’s going to be in our post game. We’re expecting her to be a key position.”

‘On guard/forward Conner, who was the team’s second leading scorer with 12.5 a game: “She’s a female type of Magic Johnson.”

‘On guard/forward Teske, who averaged five points: “She’s got a great shot.”

‘On forward Wingis, who averaged 5.8 rebounds and who’s bulked up this year: “We’re physically stronger because of her.”

‘On forward/center Burkholder, who averaged two rebounds: “She’s doing well in practice. She’s a strong person.”

‘On forward Lockett, the team’s leading rebounder at 7.5 a game: “She’s really worked hard this year. She’s much more of a complete player.”

‘On sophomore guard Hill, who, when she was a senior in high school, was rated by some publications as the best guard in the nation: “She has the ability to make us look better.”

‘On freshman guard Pottinger, a 1991 USA Today Honorable Mention All-America: “Leslie’s going to be one of the best players to come through our system.

‘”As a team, first of all, we’re going to try and be a team with an inside-outside attack,” Albright-Dieterle said. “I think that’s what you have to have to be a great basketball team. Last year we depended on a lot of outside shooting.

“It’s going to be a very good shooting team. They’ve just got to learn when to shoot and when to pass. We’re quicker, we’re bigger, we’re faster. That’s a fact.”

Albright-Dieterle answered those wondering why the Huskies are playing such a tough schedule.

“In 1953, a guy climbed (Mount Everest) and he conquered it,” Albright-Dieterle said. “His name was Edmund Hillary and he’s written a lot about that experience of climbing up the mountain.

“People say, ‘Why do people climb mountains? Why don’t they do things like discover a cure for AIDS? Why don’t they be a lawyer and make a difference in the world? Why do you climb them, why do you play a schedule like that.’

“They asked Edmund that and he said because it’s there,” Albright-Dieterle said. “That’s why you do it. You want to compete, you want to excel. You have a desire for ambition and certainly one of the reasons these young ladies came to school here is for those reasons. We want to compete, we want to excel.

“We have a very burning desire to be a great, great basketball team.”