Christmas lights aren’t all the Huskies will be seeing

By Bob Regan

Talk about bright lights and big cities. The NIU women’s basketball team will be making its holiday tour in some of the United States’ most popular cities.

Teams from all over the country—from Las Vegas to New Orleans to Champaign to Akron to Cleveland—will play host to NIU.

Tonight the Huskies (3-2) make their home in the City That Never Sleeps (Las Vegas). Whether NIU is the team to bet on is up to the odds makers, but head coach Jane Albright is determined to give support to her team’s recent votes for Top 20 rankings. On Wednesday (Dec. 7), the Associated Press poll listed NIU as receiving 12 votes. The votes were comparable to fellow North Star Conference member DePaul.

“I think (the votes) are the first steps in becoming what we want to become—a top program,” said a surprised Albright after hearing her team received national votes. “We have to get back into a better defensive set. We need to establish our running game and get our opportunities to steal the ball.”

The Huskies suffered a disappointing 83-78 loss to Northwestern (Dec. 6) after capturing the NIU/Contel Fastbreak Fest the previous weekend. The Wildcat loss could hurt the Huskies chances at receiving anymore votes, but the 10th Annual 7-UP/Desert Classic in Las Vegas will give the NIU cagers a chance to redeem themselves.

Teams in the Desert Classic include Kent State (3-3), Nevada-Las Vegas (3-0) and Sam Houston State (4-1). The Huskies will open the tournament against KSU at the 5:30 p.m. match, while UNLV faces SHS. The winners of the two games will face each other in the championship match on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Carol Owens stays on top of the Huskie statistics by averaging 22.2 points per game, 10.6 rebounds per game and 23 steals per game. Denise Dove lends the Huskies a helping hand by leading the team with 6.2 assists per game.

The pre-tournament favorite will be UNLV, who is coached by Jim Bolla—a 145-45 overall career record. The Rebels look to 6-foot-3 junior Pauline Jordan to put points on the scoreboard and collect rebounds. Jordan is averaging 26.5 points per game, and 17 rebounds per game.

“When it comes to UNLV, we learned how important it is to win our own tournament,” Albright said. “We’ll have some of our parents there, so hopefully, we’ll take a little of the (Chick) Evans Field House magic with us.”

The Huskies have yet to win on the road this season. An 81-69 loss to Old Dominion in Raleigh, NC., and the Northwestern loss continue to plague NIU.

Albright and her crew will return to the field house for a Dec. 17th game against Minnesota before going home for a quick Christmas break. On Dec. 30, the Huskies will play ball Cajun style as NIU enters the New Orleans Holiday Tournament. Featered teams are Dartmouth, Mississippi State and New Orleans.

After the games in New Orleans, NIU comes closer to home to face Illinois-Champaign on Jan. 5th. The Huskie bus will then travel north to the friendly confines of the field house to take on Creighton with a 7 p.m. tip-off.

The Huskies finish their road trip with a stop in Ohio. Both Akron and Cleveland State will be resting places for NIU as the Huskies kick off the 1989 edition of North Star Tournament play.