NIU playing Goliath role

By Jeff Kirik

Yes, NIU plays Division II Wisconsin-Parkside tonight. No, Jim Rosborough is not marking it off as a win on his schedule.

The Huskie coach said Wednesday his team will approach the 7 p.m. game at Chick Evans Field House with a workman-like attitude.

“Parkside is a crucial game for us,” Rosborough said, taking into consideration his team’s six-game losing streak. “We’ve got to get out and play. We’re going to approach it as if it were a Final Four game.”

This game will begin an end-of-the-season stretch during which the Huskies’ competition seems to lighten considerably.

Wisconsin-Parkside was 10-9 going into last night’s home game with Minnesota-Duluth. The highlight of the team’s season this year was when it defeated fourth-ranked Division II power Ferris State 127-122 in double overtime.

Rosborough said his only concern for tonight’s game is winning.

“The bottom line is, the most fun thing (about basketball) is winning,” he said. “Winning makes the last six weeks of the season a lot of fun.”

The reality of the situation is that NIU is 4-12 on the season, and even with that record it would probably take a very poor effort for the Huskies to lose this game.

Even with the six-game losing skid, Rosborough said he has seen some improvement and he’s hoping that it will carry over into the last 12 contests.

Off guard Randy Norman has been one of the improvements. The senior has averaged over 21 points per contest in the last five games and has been deadly from three-point range. In fact, over the last two games, he has made 11-of-19 from three-point land.

Parkside is led by 6-foot-8 center Richard Delk on the inside and 5-foot-6 guard Rod Whittier in the backcourt. The duo heads the team in scoring with identical 10.1 point-per-game averages.

Rodney Davis still leads the Huskie scoring chart with 17.6 points per contest. Meanwhile, Norman, Mike Grabner and Donnell Thomas all average in double figures.

One statistical area NIU should dominate is the rebounding. The Huskies come into the game outrebounding their opponents by over 10 boards a game, and they also have a large height advantage over UWP.

Rosborough said he would like to see a crowd comparable to the 3,888 that showed for Saturday’s Akron game.

“The crowd the other night was great,” he said. “I don’t know by what percentage, but it does cause your players to play better.”