Women’s basketball hits the road

By Jimmy Johnson

The NIU women’s basketball team has an opportunity to leap ahead of the two teams that are ahead of them in the MAC West division.

Matchups against Central (5-2) and Eastern Michigan (5-3) will be on tap for the Huskies (5-3) during their winter break period.

To sustain the early success that NIU head coach Kathi Bennett and her team have had, it will have to improve a sore spot that has stuck out in all three of its losses: offensive continuity.

“We need to know where our strengths are,” Bennett said. “I feel like we don’t work towards our strengths. We’re not looking very well together; we’re doing a lot of things individually on the offensive side.”

The Huskies have had their share of problems with shooting and ball control. In NIU’s three losses this season, it has averaged close to 17 turnovers a game while shooting just 35 percent from the field.

NIU will be on the road four times over its seven-game winter break stretch, with its first game going on the road against DePaul this Saturday at 5 p.m.

The Huskies have been living out of their suitcases early on this season, playing away from the Convocation Center in six of their first seven games.

But being away from their familiar surroundings has been something of a blessing in disguise, said NIU point guard Marke Freeman.

“Being on the road, in hotels and on the bus, we get an opportunity to get to know each other and learn about each other personally,” Freeman said.

As much as the Huskies have adapted to being away, they will get the chance to play three consecutive home games taking on Loyola, Illinois State and Eastern Michigan.

Freeman called this NIU team the “closest team I’ve been on,” even before the season started just from their summer workouts.

Yet wherever NIU is playing, Freeman knows that it has to continue that close bond they’ve created with each other.

“I think it is very important that we stay together,” Freeman said. “I think that’s been one of the reasons we’ve been so successful [early on].”