Thomas’ future hinges on new coach

By Mike Morris

Three rostered players are anxiously awaiting Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell’s decision as to who will be NIU’s third men’s basketball coach in five years.

After a 12-member screening committee narrows a list of applicants and recommends the finalists, O’Dell will make the final decision on who will take over for Jim Rosborough, who was fired March 8.

At that time, and co-captains Donnell Thomas and Donald Whiteside will decide whether their futures will include NIU.

When asked if he will transfer because of Rosborough’s firing, Thomas said, “Personally, I am waiting to see who gets the job.”

The Basketball Weekly Honorable Mention All-Midwest selection led the Huskies in five statistical categories in 1988-89: field goals (180), free throws (145), points (505), rebounds (268), and minutes played (1,020).

Whiteside said he too will wait to see who is hired by O’Dell before reaching a decision, adding, “I think a lot of the guys right now are just trying to prepare themselves for what’s to come and get their academics together.” Whiteside averaged 15.2 points and 3.8 assists starting all 28 games.

Harmon, NIU’s starting center, said he would like to talk things over with his family before deciding on his future at NIU.

“I’m going to want to see who comes in and then I’ll decide,” Harmon said. “I’m going to talk to my family first. I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m the only child. My mother likes Northern. And I have to see how my girlfriend feels about it. I have some schools in mind, but I don’t want to say anything right now.”

Harmon averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in his first season with the team after sitting out a Proposition 48 red-shirt year.

Scoring leader Stacy Arrington, who had a mid-season run-in with Rosborough and missed four games, said he hasn’t decided what he will do.

“I’m still confused right now,” Arrington said. “I don’t know what to think.”

Arrington averaged 18.1 points and four assists per game last season in 20 starts.

Many of the players have given interim coach Robert Collins their support by indicating they would definitely stay if he got the job. Collins, who coached Thomas at Robeson High School before coming to NIU as Rosborough’s assistant, has expressed interest in the vacancy but has not yet applied for the position.

“If coach Collins got the job, I would stay,” Harmon said. “I’d be the first one. He and coach Ros brought us all in here. He (Collins) had a winning program at Robeson. It may not have been Division I, but he proved he could be a good head coach.”

Thomas seconded the motion, “He’s a good disciplinarian. He’s mainly responsible for recruiting a lot of us. So, why would they want to bring in somebody new who we have to readjust to?

“Coach Collins has been here with us, he knows us. There’s a whole lot of things that are positive for coach Collins to help him get the job. I just hope that O’Dell and his staff consider those things.”

One player went so far as to say that he believes O’Dell is looking for “a big name guy, and if he doesn’t find a big name guy, he’s going to turn around and ask (Collins), ‘Do you still want the job?’ It’s like Collins is the second alternative, which he shouldn’t be.”

So far, only University of Illinois assistant and former NIU assistant Mark Coomes has been confirmed to have applied for the job.