Depth: an NIU advantage NCAA invitation one of many goals for women’s team

By Jesse Rogers

Huskie Basketball is underway at NIU and the women’s team is focusing on some lofty goals—mainly an NCAA tournament bid.

With Gena Stubbs being the only player gone from last year’s 23-7 squad, the Huskies have their nucleus back, including Lisa Foss and Toby Meeks who sat out last year’s season with knee injuries.

Unlike last year’s squad, the Huskies have some depth going into the season. Plagued by injuries, the Huskies had to play with 7—sometimes 6—players in last year’s campaign. This year, with some solid recruits and the injured players back, the Huskies will be able to do a lot more on the court.

After three days of practice, head coach Jane Albright is very pleased with what she has seen so far.

“They’ve worked extremely hard,” Albright explained. “I think having a nucleus of underclassmen has really made a big difference as far as tempo in our practice is concerned. They’re picking up things quickly and going on from where they left off last season.”

The Huskies want it to be known they will not be happy with just a winning record. Their goal is to get into the NCAA tournament, something the Huskies fell short of last season. Although the Huskies won 23 games, a loss to Depaul University in the North Star Conference Tournament Finals ended the Huskies hopes of post-season play.

“We’re not going to be real silent about it, that’s what we want to do,” Albright said. “Realistically that’s one of our major goals, we want to win our conference, we want to get into the NCAAs.”

The Huskies will have a chance to prove their worth by facing nine teams that saw post-season action last March, including defending national champion Tennessee. Albright hopes that a good record combined with a competitive schedule will vault the Huskies into national contention.

“We were very disappointed to end our season the way we did last year,” Albright said. “We didn’t finish it out the way we wanted to, and I think looking back on it we had very few numbers playing lots of minutes. This year we’ll be playing more numbers less time and that should help us in the long run.”

With the experienced and talented backcourt of Foss, Meeks, Denise Dove and Kris Weis, NIU will have plenty of competition at that position. All four can handle and shoot the ball exceptionally well, but all that means to coach Albright is having players who are ready to go whenever they’re needed.

“The backcourt is going to be ready to go 40 minutes a game with freshness. Last year you saw a whole lot of draining that went on during the game and that won’t happen anymore with our numbers.”

Also returning to the squad from last year are standouts Carol Owens, Tammy Hinchee, and Tracy Mondek. Rounding out the team are Denise Lipinsky, Dee Dee Jeske and newcomers Julie Gainer, Soyini Chism, and Deb Teske.