Montana St. next test for cage kids

By Chris Sigley

NIU’s men’s basketball team hits the road this weekend with intent to beat Montana State and to overcome three of coach Jim Rosborough’s philosophies.

The Huskies will take on the Bobcats at 8:30 p.m. (CST) in Breeden Fieldhouse.

Though the Huskies are departing with a 2-1 record from a three-game home series, the final match—a 75-65 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay on Wednesday—will be the freshest on their minds.

“We gave (UWGB) the game,” Rosborough said. “We certainly could have won.”

Rosborough said he had three theories as to why NIU blew a 10-point lead at intermission of the UWGB contest and lost the game.

“We got tired,” Rosborough said. “Secondly, we got a little overconfident, and we stopped doing the things defensively in terms of the effort. Thirdly, we just got so tentative. I think they learned a lesson. I don’t think that will happen (against Montana).”

The Huskies seemed to tire from their scrappy defensive effort in the first half against UWGB. The defensive task won’t be any easier Saturday when NIU faces Montana State guard Alonzo Stephens. The 5-foot-10 junior college transfer has averaged 25 points per game during the Bobcats’ 1-1 series.

Montana State will also look to center Mike Fellows. The 6-foot-9 senior averaged 9.1 ppg and 6.5 rebounds per game during the Bobcats’ 19-11 season last year.

Over the course of the first three games, the dividing up of points has been inconsistent for the Huskies. Rosborough said the squad is working to “balance the offense” a little more.

“I think we’ve got to get Stacy (Arrington) a few more shots,” Rosborough said. “I’d really like to see Andrew (Wells) get a little more involved, but otherwise I think we’ll be balanced.” Rosborough said the Huskies, who got into foul trouble early in the second half Wednesday with starting point guard Donald Whiteside, will not lighten up on their outgoing defense.

“We’re not going to ease up at all,” Rosborough said. “We’re going to play harder.”

Traveling will be a different experience to the six new faces on the squad, but co-captain Whiteside doesn’t think it will affect the Huskies’ play.

“(Our team) is a real enthusiastic group, so it shouldn’t be hard,” Whiteside said. “They know that the crowd’s not with us, and I’ll just keep telling them to play hard.”

Rosborough said he doesn’t have “any hesitation taking these guys out” on the road.

“As long as we play like we did against Eastern (Illinois) and like we did in the first half against Wisconsin, I think we’ll be just fine,” Rosborough said. “(Montana) should be a very worthy opponent.”