Huskies to renew rivalry with Bennett-less UWGB

By John Dietz

One of the most heated rivals in all of Mid-Continent Conference basketball is coming to take on the NIU men’s basketball team at Chick Evans Field House Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Fighting Phoenix of Wisconsin-Green Bay (5-6, 1-2) are in search of their ninth consecutive victory over the Huskies (6-6, 2-1). Many of the upperclassmen should remember the 1990-91 campaign when UWGB handed NIU three of its six losses.

Even without superstar point guard Tony Bennett, the Phoenix still present matchup problems for the Huskies to consider.

Four of their starters are 6-7 or taller. Two of those players are 6-9 center Jeff Zavada and 6-7 guard Dean Rondorf.

Zavada is tied for fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (.527) and is averaging 14.6 points a game. Rondorf comes in shooting 42 percent from three-point range while averaging 14.5 points a game.

Rondorf could give the Huskies problems come game time.

“It will certainly give us some reasons to be concerned,” NIU head coach Brian Hammel said. “Rondorf’s kind of like an off-guard for them because he’s such a good perimeter shooter. Even though we’re going to be out on the perimeter (guarding) him, he’s going to have the ability to shoot over us.”

On the other hand, “We’ll try and take advantage of (their size) offensively by being able to penetrate more against them,” Hammel said.

To combat the Phoenix, Hammel’s squad features a well-balanced attack with weapons from all areas of the floor.

From the outside, Mike Lipnisky and Vaurice Patterson have shown their ability to hit key shots on the perimeter.

Lipnisky comes in shooting only 43 percent but has steadily improved during the course of the season. Patterson has hit 42 percent of his three-point shots and leads the team in that category.

When NIU needs a bucket in the paint, look for Hubert Register and Randy Fens to step to the forefront. The two of them have sunk a combined 50 percent of their shots.