NIU tries to avoid record-tying streak

By Jeff Kirik

If the NIU men’s basketball team is to beat Central Connecticut State Saturday, the Huskies will have to do something they could not do in the last meeting with the Blue Devils—stop Brian Devlin.

The 4-16 Huskies will attempt to snap their 10-game slide at Chick Evans Field House at 7 p.m. versus an 8-14 Blue Devil team which has won four out of its last five games. An NIU loss would give the Huskies a tie for the longest losing streak in modern NIU history. The cardinal and black lost 11 consecutive games under the direction of Emory Luck in 1975-76.

Devlin, a 6-foot-5 swing man, has been the major reason for CCSU’s success in the last five games. He has averaged 14.4 points in that period, beginning with a 25-point blitz in the Blue Devils’ 93-86 win over NIU Jan. 30.

In that game, Devlin hit for 23 points, including five three-pointers, in the first 15 minutes. He was averaging only about six points per contest coming into the game.

The Blue Devils have a strong inside game which features 6-foot-8 center Tyrone Canino and 6-foot-7 forward Bryan Heron. The duet was instrumental in helping CCSU hold on for the win when the Huskies shut down Devlin in the second half.

“They were in a similar position to us (record-wise),” NIU coach Jim Rosborough said. “It just boiled down to a situation where we were putting them on the free-throw line too much.”

NIU stood behind the stripe only nine times in the game and conected on six tries. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils made 24 out of their 29 attmepts. Obviously, the Huskies cannot let CCSU visit the line as many times Saturday.

“We’re going to have to stop their penetration from their guards—that killed us,” Rosborough said. “As far as them compared to us—it depends which ‘us’ shows up.”

With a win, the Blue Devils could give a long-time mentor a pleasant farewell. CCSU coach Bill Detrick officially resigned earlier this week, ending a 29-year coaching stint with the Blue Devils.

The 60-year-old Detrick had not been with the team since Dec. 18 when health problems forced him to hand over the keys to assistant C.J. Jones. Jones, who has coached at CCSU since 1970, is 6-11 during his tenure as interim coach.

The Huskies have not played since Feb. 4 when they dropped a 73-72 decision to Florida International. Rosborough is hoping the rest is what his team needs to get its engine running again.

“We took three days off over the weekend,” he said. “We needed to get away and get refreshed. We’re kind of looking at this as a fresh start. Maybe getting our backs up against the wall is what we need.”

The earlier game between CCSU and the Huskies was significant because it was the first time Rosborough went with his youth movement.

Over the last three games the head Huskie has benched seniors John Culbertson and Randy Norman and started freshmen Brian Banks and Jo Jo Jackson. Banks, Jackson and season-long freshman starter Donnell Thomas have responded well recently, but the wins have not come.