Simms ignites Huskies

By Roger Moreano

Freshman Marlin Simms has been waiting for his chance to do something big this season, and Saturday night it finally came.

As the NIU men’s basketball team saw its game against Eastern Illinois slowly start to slip away, Simms stepped up and hit two big three pointers that ignited the Huskies and the 2,795 fans at Chick Evans Field House.

Simms’ six consecutive points brought NIU to within two points of EIU, 60-58 with :50 seconds left in regulation.

NIU then tied the game at 61-61 with :41 seconds to go only to lose the game 65-61.

For Simms, the last 2:47 seconds of the game was a welcome high point in a season of inconsistency.

Simms entered Saturday’s action averaging just under four points in his last eight games. To some observers, Simms sometimes doesn’t appear fully confident on the court. Yet, he coolly and without hesitation put up the shots and hit them at crunch time on Saturday.

“I’m surprised that Marlin had the confidence and the boldness to take those shots,” NIU head coach Brian Hammel said. “It ignited us, and the sixth man, the crowd, got into the game.

“The last few minutes we put ourselves behind the eight-ball and got the enthusiasm to get us back in the game.”

For the Huskies, Simms’ sudden outburst may be a welcome one. If Simms can begin to produce off the bench as he did on Saturday, the burden may ease off the shoulders of the starting five who have been carrying the load in scoring as well as in minutes played.

If NIU is to make a serious run at the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, it will need help from its bench and Marlin Simms.