Men’s basketball team a litter of Huskie pups

By Mike Morris

Don’t be alarmed. The ear-shattering sound you’ll hear later this week will be courtesy of the 1988-89 men’s basketball team.

It will either be the shattering of the sound barrier as a squad of young and eager athletes soar to new heights, or the crash-landing of an inexperienced team facing the reality of its own youth. Either way, the outcome of the Huskies’ first three games should give NIU basketball fans a glimpse of the upcoming season.

NIU head coach Jim Rosborough said the 1988-89 schedule should be “highly motivational” for both players and fans. Still, he said he would prefer to wait until the end of the season to comment on whether the Huskies bit off more than they could chew.

NIU avoided a real mouthful thanks to a scheduling change that kept the Huskies from opening the season on the road against Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers, a game Rosborough described as “potentially devastating for us.

“There are two sides: you don’t want to schedule yourself out of a job…and, yeah, you have to have some teams that your players are motivated for, but you don’t want to schedule yourself into 26 losses, either.

“We’ll be able to judge next March if (the schedule) was too good for this crew. I think this is the best schedule we’ve had since (I’ve) been here. If we’re going to remain an independent, I hope that each year we can put together schedules like this.”

The Huskies open the season with a three-game homestand which began against Bethel College Saturday and continues with tonight’s game against Eastern Illinois and Wednesday’s meeting with Wisconsin-Green Bay.

NIU assistant coach Bill Harris scouted both EIU and UWGB. “(Eastern) starts four seniors,” Harris said. “They are a very good basketball team. I saw them beat Denmark by 25 points. It’ll be a good test for us to see how far along we are with our young ball club.

“They (EIU) have a tremendous player in Jay Taylor, who I think has potential to be an NBA draft pick,” Harris said. “He’s as good as any player we will see all year.”

The 6-foot-3 Taylor scored 27 points in Eastern’s 87-81 victory over the Huskies at Chick Evans Field House last season.

Wisconsin-Green Bay will bring a disciplined offensive attack to Chick Evans, which should contrast nicely with NIU’s up-tempo style of play.

“They (UWGB) will slow the tempo down,” Harris said. “And, obviously, we’ll try an up-tempo type of game against them. (The players) want to win that one. That’s a big game for us.”

“Big games” on the Huskies’ home schedule include Southern Illinois (Dec. 17), Minnesota (Dec. 23), Rice (Dec. 28), Akron (Jan. 23), Illinois-Chicago (Jan. 25), and Lamar (Feb. 27).

Many of the Huskies’ home games could turn into high-scoring affairs, featuring teams that will match running games with NIU.

Rice is just one example. “They run,” Rosborough said. “Friends of mine have said it’s unbelievable. I mean run, run, run, run, run, run, run. They’ll have to get a new clock here that night.”

NIU will visit, among others, Western Illinois (Dec. 8), Nebraska (Jan. 12), Loyola-Chicago (Feb. 18) and Chicago State (March 6), as well as the road portion of a home-and-home series with EIU (Jan. 9).