Strange doings at Evans

By Tom Clegg

The next full moon is still a week away, so there must be another way to explain the weird goings on at Evans Field House Saturday night.

For the second consecutive game, NIU senior Rodney Davis could not get going offensively. A .491 shooter this year, Davis stumbled out of the starting blocks with a 1-8 first half effort as the Huskies lost to Akron 75-68. He finished with 12 points, six under his average of 18 ppg.

“It’s just one of those things,” Davis said of his poor first half—he performed similarly in the Huskies’ previous game at Toledo. “I don’t know if it’s concentration or just thinking a little bit too much.”

While Davis is content to attribute his recent slow starts to mental readiness, Rosborough indicated that his star guard might have a more serious problem.

“I’m almost tempted to have him see a doctor,” the second-year coach said with surprising seriousness. “I’m concerned for Rodney because he hasn’t had that spark.”

The basis of Rosborough’s conjecture reverts to the situation of Indiana’a All-American guard Quinn Buckner during the mid-1970’s. Rosborough said a decline in Buckner’s performance was attributed to his unhealthy eating habits.

Whatever the reason for Davis’ slow starts, it has yet to affect his all-around game. The senior All-Midwest candidate had eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals Saturday night.

Equally perplexing was the play of Akron junior forward Todd Robinson. A 6-foot-10 transfer from Mississippi, Robinson came off the bench to score 19 points against the Huskie front line. His previous season-high was 13 points in the Zips’ 109-54 win over Otterbein College.

NIU senior center John Culbertson was at a loss to explain how Robinson could score 16 points more than his three points-per-game average in just 21.5 minutes of court time.

“We didn’t even count on him to score,” said Culbertson, who fouled out with 3:10 remaining. “We sagged off him and he got a lot of easy buckets. I guess he was on. When you’re on, you’re on.”

Huskie head coach Jim Rosborough tried to laugh about Robinson’s unexpected contribution, but gave the Zip forward his due.

“He was getting the ball down low, and he was going right up over our kids,” Rosborough said. “I think several times we just didn’t get up and pressure the shot.”

With the Huskies leading 34-32 at halftime, Robinson began taking control. The slender forward notched 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half and coaxed NIU senior Mike Grabner to foul out with 4:58 to go.

Another oddity was the presence of sophomore Matt Hardy on the floor for the opening tip instead of freshman rebounding sensation Donnell Thomas. Hardy went over his 1.3 ppg average with a 14-foot jumper 2:30 into the game, but failed to score the rest of the contest.

NIU freshman forward Andrew Wells also contributed to the confusion. Known more for his tenacious rebounding than his stellar defense, Wells was held to just four boards while picking up three steals. The 6-foot-7 forward had accumulated a total of three steals in his 13 previous games.