Huskies go for 3rd consecutive win

By Mike Morris

by er a game were played that might be described as being of little importance to either team, this could be it.

When the NIU Huskies and the Cougars of Chicago State take the floor at the CSU Physical Education & Athletic Building tonight at 7:30, nothing resembling an NCAA Tournament bid will be riding on the outcome.

But to call it a meaningless game would be to take a lot for granted because both teams own losing records and would be tickled to post a season-ending victory.

The 10-17 Huskies have already assured head coach Jim Rosborough of his winningest season since taking over the head coaching duties in 1986. Rosborough’s club posted an 8-20 record a year ago (.286), and a 9-19 mark (.321) in 1986-87.

With a victory tonight over CSU, the Huskies would stand at 11-17, (.393). More importantly for Rosborough, a win would mean ending the season with a three-game winning streak—something NIU has never accomplished during his three-year stint at the NIU helm.

“We want to end the season on an upbeat note to propel us into our off-season program,” Rosborough said before the Huskies hosted Wright State February 25. NIU dumped the Raiders 82-73 and then went on to nip Lamar 98-95 in double-overtime two days later.

For Chicago State (12-15), a win would run the Cougars’ home record to 8-3 and mean an improvement of five games over last year’s 8-20 finish.

The key for NIU will be shutting down CSU guard Gerald Collins—a feat that hasn’t been done very often this season. The 6-2 guard leads the Cougars in scoring at 19.2 points per game and is coming off a 23-point effort against Southern Mississippi.

Six-foot-two guard Stacy Arrington will assume the initial responsibility of guarding Collins. But NIU assistant coach Robert Collins said he wouldn’t hesitate to use freshman Mike Hidden if Arrington has trouble stopping the CSU guard.

“Stacy will probably start out on him (CSU’s Collins),” Robert Collins said. “If we have to go to a better defender, we’ll put Hidden on him.” The NIU assistant described the 6-5 Hidden as a “smart defender,” although not necessarily a better overall defensive player than Arrington.

The Cougars will undoubtedly concentrate on stopping 6-4 power forward Donnell Thomas. The “D-Train” regained the NIU scoring lead with a 28-point performance versus Lamar which raised his ppg to 18.2. Arrington now stands second at 17.9 ppg.

One possible matchup to watch for will be Thomas battling 6-7 senior Rodney Hull. Both Hull and Thomas lead their teams in rebounding, Hull at 8.9 per game and Thomas at 9.4.

But Robert Collins admitted the guard matchups will probably be the most important for NIU.

“Their quickness may be a problem for us,” he said. “They start three quick guards (Collins, Maurice Thornton, and Alan Gandy)…I think it should be a high-scoring affair. They like to let it fly.”

NIU leads the series, 13-2, including last season’s 98-97 Huskie win in double overtime.