NIU counts on ‘consistent’ Conner

By Alex Gary

This should be a banner year for NIU women’s basketball, and when the team takes the floor Dec. 1, the squad will look to Cindy Conner to lead the way to victory.

Conner, a senior physical education major, was last year’s leading scorer at 18.4 points a game on a team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year even more is expected out of her. Conner enters the season as a pre-season All-America Honorable Mention.

“What we’re looking for out of Cindy is consistency,” said NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle.

Albright-Dieterle pointed to last year’s game against Tennessee, a perennial national powerhouse in women’s basketball, as an example of how good Conner can be. That game, Conner dominated the defending NCAA champions with 21 points, four blocked shots and four steals.

“(Conner’s) challenge will be to play at that level consistently,” Albright-Dieterle said. “She was the best player on the floor.”

Despite the early season accolades, Conner said she doesn’t feel any added pressure.

“I don’t feel the pressure will be on me because everybody improved this summer,” she said.

What Conner gives the team is versatility.

“She can play any position on the floor she wants to,” said junior guard E.C. Hill.

Hill knows Conner’s basketball talents and Conner as a person better than anyone. They started playing ball together when Conner was in eighth grade and both attended Chicago’s Whitney Young High School together.

“The biggest transition you have to make coming out of high school is growing up,” Hill said. “(Cindy’s) done that, she’s been here for the good and the bad.”

Albright-Dieterle also said Conner’s growth as a person has helped her as a basketball player.

“A lot of that improvement (as a player) is because of her development as a person,” Albright-Dieterle said. “(Conner) is becoming and has become a model player and person for our program.

“This year you will see an extremely mature person in every area of (Conner’s) life.”

Conner is a year away from graduation and is undecided as to what she will do after this year.

“I’m either going to finish school or play overseas,” she said. “I have a son and that’s going to affect what I do.”

In any case Conner said she is happy she came to NIU.

“I think our fans are the best around and my parents get to come to every game,” Conner added. “I’m glad I came to NIU.”