NIU to face Bronco test

By Tom Clegg

Losing streaks are never any fun and NIU’s men’s basketball team is struggling through a particularly nasty one—make that two.

The Huskies have lost five straight overall and four in a row to the Western Michigan Broncos. NIU will try to end both skids Monday night when it plays a 7 p.m. contest in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“One of the most difficult things in sports is to beat a team three times,” Bronco head coach Vernon Payne said. “We’re trying to do it five times.”

NIU head coach Jim Rosborough, who has never beaten the Broncos since his arrival in DeKalb last season, was unsure of a starting center for Monday night. He said Rodney Davis and Randy Norman would start at guard and Mike Grabner and Donnell Thomas would be on the court at forward. The pivot spot remains up for grabs between John Culbertson and Andrew Wells.

“Time is very valuable for Andrew to be out on the floor,” Rosborough said, though he stopped short of naming the 6-foot-7, 191-pound freshman as his starting choice. “He’s obviously going to need to get bigger and stronger.”

Culbertson failed to impress Rosborough with his play in Saturday’s loss to Akron. Coming off the bench for the third time this year, the 6-foot-9, 261-pound senior fouled out in 19.5 minutes of playing time. Culbertson scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds against the Zips.

Though WMU has lost two key players to injuries—forward Hoyt Mahaley (ankle) and center Tony Baumgardt (shoulder)—the Broncos have won two games in a row. WMU is 5-8 overall, while the Huskies have fallen to 4-11.