Basketball awaits new coach

By Matt Stacionis

A day after the regular season ended for the NIU men’s basketball team, a “new era” was set to begin.

NIU has announced plans to name the new head coach for men’s basketball during a 1:30 p.m. press conference at Iron Mike’s restaurant in Chicago. Both the Score radio station and Daily Herald newspaper have reported that the coach will be University of Illinois assistant coach Rob Judson. Other sources have said the new coach will be the ABA’s Chicago Skyliner coach Joey Meyer.

NIU athletics director Cary Groth would not comment on the name of the coach until the press conference today. She also said neither Judson nor Meyer has been on campus yet.

NIU guard Walter Thompson said the team has not met with any of the candidates. The team returned from Ball State in Muncie, Ind., late Monday evening.

Judson, who was an assistant at NIU during the 1990-91 season, has been credited with bringing Illini starters Frank Williams, Sergio McClain and Marcus Griffin from Peoria Manual High School. It’s hopeful that he can bring some of the same recruiting connections to NIU that have brought success at Illinois.

If Judson is awarded the job, he will, under NCAA rule, be able to carry out the remainder of this season at Illinois and perform his NIU duties from the phone. The Illini are ranked No. 4 in the nation and are likely to draw a No. 1 seed in one of the regions for the NCAA Tournament.

The Illini will be in Chicago on Thursday for the Big Ten Championship, which is played at the United Center this weekend.