Huskies return to familiar grounds

By Todd McMahon

Just how long does 2 1/2 weeks mean to a basketball team?

“We have to implement our defensive system in one week. Last year, we had three weeks to work on it,” said NIU women’s mastermind Jane Albright-Dieterle, just three days into the daily grind of practice.

Exactly one year ago, the Huskies had close to 20 days of practice logged in the 1991-92 calendar. How things change when the NCAA takes charge—pushing the start of practice back to Nov. 1 this season.

So, what did the team that advanced to Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament in March have to accomplish before beginning workouts on Monday? Lots and lots of conditioning.

“We all had to come in good shape,” sophomore guard Leslie Pottinger said. “We had to work on conditioning.

“We have been going a lot quicker this year because we’re starting later. We’re all real intense … and we’re getting everything compact right now.”

Although the Huskies have lost some precious time due to the new rule, 1992 leading scorer Cindy Conner believes the team has an edge this year.

“I think we’re in better shape than we were last year,” the senior said. “We were all given a conditioning program to follow during the off-season, and I think everyone worked hard with it.”

Albright-Dieterle also points to her five seniors playing a major role in helping with the smooth transition to the basketball court.

“Our seniors have given us tremendous leadership,” the ninth-year coach said. “We have so much experience … (and) it makes it so much easier.”