NIU jamming to fastbreak tune

By Tom Clegg

The NIU men’s basketball team wants to get its fans more involved this season. Thus, the slam dunk is going to play a major role in the team’s plans this year.

That’s where the fastbreak comes in. Because without it, there are few dunks.

Saturday morning, just hours before the Homecoming football game, the Huskie basketball team tried out its fastbreak in an intrasquad scrimmage at Chick Evans Field House.

To anyone who has seen it run successfully, the break can be a beautiful sight—just ask a Los Angeles Laker’s fan. But when it’s not clicking, the fastbreak looks similar to the Chicago Bears’ passing game with Jim McMahon on the bench. That is, it goes nowhere.

Saturday, the Huskies looked like a combination of the Lakers and the McMahonless Bears. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes not.

Head coach Jim Rosborough split his freshmen and sophomores (that’s all he has, except for two junior walk-ons) evenly into a white and a red squad. The starting white team consisted of freshmen Mike Hidden and Marcus Coty, and sophmores Antwon Harmon, Andrew Wells and Donald Whiteside. Starting for the red were freshman Brent Varner and sophmores Donnell Thomas, Jo Jo Jackson and Stacy Arrington. Bobby Smith, a transfer from Oral Roberts who will sit out this season, also started for the red.

The game simulated a regulation contest (two 20 minute halves), but for the first 10 minutes it barely simulated a basketball game of any kind. In the early going, it was apparent that the fastbreak had not been perfected, as pass after pass either sailed out of bounds or was intercepted by the other team.

Not until Wells’ dunk with 7:30 to go in the first half did the break look like it would ever work. Harmon, expected to carry some of the offensive load this season, was held scoreless until 3:50 remained in the half when he scored on a twisting layup. Meanwhile, Arrington and Thomas were leading the red with 14 and 12 first-half points, respectively. The halftime score: red 38, white 28.

But the second half was all white. Wells poured in 20 points and Harmon added 18, including three dunks, as the white defense held the red to 34 points in the half enroute to an 85-72 win. Thomas led all scorers with 27, Wells finished with 25 and Harmon with 24.

Rosborough, who refrained from picking on (or praising) anyone by name, said, “Overall, it was a tough, competitive game. We’ve been practicing for seven days in a row. All things considered, the intensity level was good.”

Perhaps the greatest and least amount of intensity was shown by Wells. With two and a half minutes to go in the game, Wells swooped in from the right side for a dunk, but clanged it off the rim. Instead of brooding about his mistake, as he had done in the first half after losing the ball out of bounds, Wells dashed back up court, pulled down a rebound and fired an outlet pass to Hidden for a layup.