NIU flexes its muscle in the paint

By Jim Trentadue

After NIU’s victory Tuesday night over the Czechoslovakia Select Team, head coach Brian Hammel was pleased with the team’s effort but was shocked at a statistic that was brought to his attention.

“We out-rebounded them by that much,” Hammel said. “I know that we were more aggressive on the boards, but I didn’t realize the difference was that high.”

The Huskies out-rebounded the Czechs by a margin of 48-23, with NIU pulling down 20 offensive rebounds compared to only seven for the Czechs.

Guard David Mitchell led the team with 12, including five on the offensive end. Randy Fens followed with eight, while Steve Oldendorf and Mike Lipnisky pulled down six each.

“I think Steve and Randy did a great job tonight,” Hammel said. “With them setting picks and screens, it opened up the floor, allowing Mike and Randy (Tucker) to take good perimeter shots.”

The Huskies just out-muscled Czechoslovakia in the paint as the team was able to get many second- and third-shot opportunities and also score on many driving layups.

“The physical aspect is the biggest difference between Czechoslovakia basketball and U.S. basketball,” said Czechoslovakia head coach Ron Frantisek. “We’re just not used to that type of game.”

“I didn’t think they (Czechoslovakia) were very aggressive on the boards,” Hammel said. “They took a lot of quick perimeter shots, which allowed us to get to the ball easy.”

In addition to Fens and Oldendorf playing inside, Scott Peterson, Mike Hartke and Hubert Register played well down low, which looks to be a highly competitive contest at that position and could make for an interesting season.