NIU not to run versus Braves

By Jeff Kirik

Jim Rosborough usually considers his NIU men’s basketball squad a running team.

Not this weekend.

Sunday at 4:05 p.m., the 1-3 Huskies will be at the Rockford MetroCentre to face a Bradley team which is averaging 102.5 points through two games.

Rosborough knows the Huskies can’t get into a running game with the 2-0 Braves.

“We cannot do that. Period,” he said. “We need to control the tempo.

“They just play a totally wide-open, pro-style, uptempo type of offense. They just get it and go. Our big kids are gonna have to get down the floor. If they don’t they’re gonna be slammin‘ on us.”

The second-year coach does not plan to abandon the fastbreak, but he is aware that if the teams start trading baskets, the game might look something like a race between a sports car and a ten-speed.

“We will run if we see an opportunity for easy baskets,” Rosbrough said, “but if we don’t have an easy basket we’ll slow it down and set up our offense.”

Bradley’s main weapon is senior All-American Hersey Hawkins. The 6-foot-3 guard scored 42 points in the Braves’ season opening 111-94 pounding of New Orleans, and then tossed in 44 in a 94-78 win over Colorado Wednesday.

“They’ve got very good athletes,” Rosborough said. “And they’ve got a great one in Hersey.

“He will get his points. We’re just going to try to make him work hard to get them. We’re gonna have somebody fresh on him all the time.”

The Braves also have an outstanding center in Luke Jackson. At 6-foot-8, the sophomore is averaging 12.5 points per game and leads the team with a 10 rebound-per-game average. However, Jackson is a major liability at the free throw line. He has shot 13 times from the charity stripe this season and has made only one for about an 8 percent clip.

NIU’s 6-foot-3 guard Rodney Davis has been the team’s catalyst so far this season. Davis is averaging a team-leading 20 points a game, in addition to being the Huskie floor leader. He will be a key player if NIU is to set the game’s pace.

The Huskies will play nine other times over Christmas break after the Bradley affair.

Rosborough, however, said he did not want to think about any game other than the one directly in front of him.

“It’s the old saying—one game at a time,” he said. “I told the kids unless we play hard we’re not going to beat anybody.”

A few of the games over the break stand out more than the others. On Dec. 19 the Huskies will travel to Southern Illinois and four days later they will get a rematch with a Wisconsin-Green Bay team that defeated them 71-67 Saturday.

The contest with the Phoenix will be the first of seven straight games the team will play on the road. In that string the Huskies will play Loyola in the Illinois-Chicago McLendon Classic in addition to taking on Drake, Butler, Eastern Illinois and Toledo at their homecourts. The Huskies’ only home games over break will be on Dec. 21 and 23 against Northern

Iowa and Western Michigan, respectively.