Owens plays enforcer in the middle for women; senior controls the paint

By Thom Gippert

When opposing coaches form their game plan, they must find a way to work the all-around play of NIU’s Carol Owens.

The senior has been a main piece of the Huskie basketball puzzle coming together throughout her five-year career at NIU and her offensive and defensive abilities can give opposing coaches headaches while NIU coaches often can smile.

Owens is quietly a dominate force for NIU basketball. Her numbers, on the whole, do not look overwhelming, but when all of the statistics are added up, more often than not, Owens has had a banner day.

A product of Notre Dame High School in Chicago, Owens prides herself on her defensive ability, but she has also proven to be the top scorer for the Huskie squad.

“We’ve got a lot of scorers on this team and I mostly want to keep working on defense because we play a lot of teams with tough post people,” Owens said.

Owens can be considered the “Sultan of Swat” in the middle for NIU as she ranks as the Huskies all-time leading shot blocker with 183. The statistics don’t stop there, however. As for rebounding, Owens has cleaned 742 career rebounds off the boards, which places her seventh on the all-time list.

Not only can Owens block and bound, but the 6-3 center also led the team in steals last season with 86.

By the way, the All-America candidate did lead the Huskies in scoring last year as she pumped in 21 points per game and is currently riding a 37-game string in which she has scored in double figures.

This year, however, Owens will be counted on to provide valuable leadership as well as maintain her remarkable all-around stats.

“I think she gives us strength, she gives us backbone, she give us confidence, great defensive ability, leadership. It’s hard for me to imagine not having Carol around,” NIU head coach Jane Albright said.

Owens should fit the bill of being a leader quite nicely. A two-time team captain, Owens has also been a two-time All-North Star Conference pick.

“I would hope the team looks for a lot of leadership, a lot of emotion, someone who’s going to get them up when were not doing well, I want to be that type of person. I hope that’s what I am and what I prove to be,” Owens said.

What might be the most amazing thing about Owens’ years at NIU is that she has suffered through some painful knee problems which forced her to be a medical red-shirt her second year at NIU. Those knee problems haven’t completely gone away, which Owens felt at the end of last season as the wear and tear eventually affected her. Owens is confident, though, that this season those problems that bothered her last year will not reappear.

“I really don’t anticipate the same problems this year because last year we didn’t know how my knees would react. I have to work through some pain, but nothing that’s going to hinder my play,” said the soft-spoken Owens.

Unfortunately for Albright, this will signal Owens’ last season as a Huskie player, but the Huskie mentor believes that Owens has left her mark at NIU.

“I think she’ll always be here, in some way. She’s the type of character that coaches dream about having, because she’s a great, classy young lady. She’ll be here next year in Soyini Chism and Tiana Burkholder (freshmen centers) because she’s a roadmap to those people, they look to her to see what to do,” Albright said.

For Owens though, when the final shot is blocked or the last shot rebounded, that just may well be the last of Carol Owens on the basketball court.

“You have to leave gracefully, you play your time and then that’s it, but you can contribute in other ways, maybe coaching. I want to do some things in radio, television, film and maybe one day I’d like to be an assistant coach, but not a head coach,” Owens said.

Owens can sit back and reflect on her fondest memories at NIU to date, which is NIU winning the Fastbreak Fest last season, where she was named tournament Most Valuable Player. This year the drive for an NCAA tournament bid is in the back of her mind.

“Right now we’ve made some general goals, but we would like to make the tournament and right now we have to take it one game at a time,” Owens said of this year’s Huskie squad.