Rosborough ready for new beginning

By Eric Burt

The NIU men’s basketball program will begin in a “mad” way this Friday night with the Midnight Madness promotion.

“I think it is a good way to heighten interest in the program,” said coach Jim Rosborough. “Friday night will highlight the beginning.”

For Rosborough, the beginning will be Saturday morning at nine, when his 1988-89 team will take the floor for its first practice.

“The first practice is what it is,” said Rosborough. “There is a lot of teaching to be done. We’ll be doing a lot of explaining to the freshmen. Hopefully for the veterans, it will come back a little quicker. We’ll be building from ground zero.”

Ground zero is right.

Rosborough has only one junior. The rest of the squad is composed of freshmen and sophomores. Of this group, there is only one returning starter, sophomore forward Donnell Thomas.

“We’re very realistic,” Rosborough said. “Yes, we find ourselves with a very young squad, but that will not be an excuse. These are all players recruited by our staff. They have a deep desire to win and a little different outlook on what we’re doing.”

Of the four incoming freshmen, there are two guards, one forward, and one center. The center is Brent Varner (6-9, 235) from Warren, Mich., where he played at Cousino High School. Forward Randy Fens (6-9, 205) hails from Dubuque, Iowa. He played his high school ball at Hempstead.

Guard Marcus Coty (6-1, 165) is joined at the position by Mike Hidden (6-6, 180). Coty played his prep game at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hidden is from nearby Rockford, Ill., where he played at Loves Park Harlem.

Coty feels he is ready for the season. “We’ve had real good training,” said Coty. “(NIU strength coach Jim) Zielinski worked us on weight training and aerobic stuff to improve our agility and endurance.”

Asked if he had any goals for the season, Coty said, “Sure, everyone has goals. I want to contribute and work on turning the program around.”

Mike Hidden is glad the conditioning is over. “It was hard,” said Hidden. “It was a lot different from high school training. We never ran this much in high school.

“I don’t really feel any intimidation, because the guys are all my age. It’s not like there is a senior who already has his position. The guys ahead of me only have one year of experience, but they know what is going on.”

Asked if he had any goals, Hidden said, “I’d like to get a starting spot, and if not that then I’d like to be the sixth man off the bench. I hope to get some playing time in every game.”

Saturday’s practice will be closed to the public, as will every weekday practice during the season. Only Saturday practices during the season, which are scrimmages, will be open.