Rosborough’s future depends on youth

By Tom Clegg and Jeff Kirik

Is Jim Rosborough’s job in jeopardy?

He has led his NIU men’s basketball team to a 4-16 record thusfar against a not-so-difficult schedule. They’ve won only 13 games in the last two seasons. They’ve lost 10 games in a row. It has been over a month since they won their last game. Not many people know about their streak because not many people show up for the games, besides the pep band and family members—close family members.

Rosborough should know how to win from past experience at Iowa and Tulsa and he seems to have decent talent to work with. Not great talent, but decent.

Rodney Davis is the leader of the group. A preseason All-Midwest candidate, Davis has quickness, a good touch on his outside shot and good defensive ability. And he rarely turns the ball over.

Freshman Donnell Thomas is the rising star. At 6-foot-4, Thomas leads the team in rebounding and is third on the squad in scoring.

Others on the team have had their moments as well. Senior center Mike Grabner has been a threat at times in the paint, but he tends to disappear during some games—sometimes because of too many fouls, other times only he knows why.

The freshmen class has shown promise in Brian Banks, Jo Jo Jackson, Stacy Arrington, Andrew Wells and Donald Whiteside. Promise hasn’t won games, though.

Then you get to seniors Randy Norman and John Culbertson. Both players had high expectations coming into to their final year, but both have found themselves watching the games with the best seats in the house—next to Rosborough on the bench.

So what’s wrong with the Huskies?

Following their recent loss to Wisconsin-Parkside, several Huskies began pointing fingers at each other and their coach. Thomas, who has turned the ball over almost four times a game, offered an explanation for his woes.

“I get a lot (of turnovers) trying to get the ball inside to the big men,” he said. “I have to try to put the ball where there’s an opening and they expect the ball to come straight to them. And if it doesn’t come straight to them and they don’t go for it, that’s another turnover for me.”

Another baffled Huskie was Norman, who had averaged more than 20 points per game in his five previous outings. Norman, upset after scoring 14 points against UWP, said his shooting was disrupted by Rosborough’s insistance that Norman work on other aspects of his game.

“Yesterday, in practice, I was wanting to shoot the ball and he (Rosborough) wanted me to start concentrating on passing,” Norman said. “When you’re not in the right rhythm and things are going through your mind, it’s distracting to your shot.”

Grabner also found reason to be perplexed with Rosborough’s strategy after the Parkside loss, questioning why the coach did not have NIU pressing more.

To Rosborough’s credit, he has kept such criticisms to a minimum. No easy task when your team wins just 20 percent of its games.

However, Rosborough remains the most obvious target. Despite surrounding himself with a knowledgeable staff in his first two seasons as a head coach, he has seen a team that went 15-12 in 1985-86 win only 13 of its next 48 games.

We are not asking for Rosborough’s resignation. He has only been at NIU two seasons and many of the factors leading to the Huskies’ poor play have been beyond his control. He deserves a shot to see what he can do with a full squad of his own recruits. But the team needs to produce now.

Rosborough’s future at NIU rests in the hands of the freshmen, all of whom have come from successful prep programs. He needs to distance those freshmen from the team’s losing ways before they forget what winning was like.