NIU coach looks for confidence, turnout

By Todd McMahon

Pressure will be the word of the hour tonight at Chick Evans Field House.

Not only is the clock ticking for the NIU women’s basketball team to thwart the “pressure” and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay at 7:00 p.m., there is also the added pressure for the student body to show up 2,000 strong.

The Huskies and Phoenix will tangle in the final regular season game for both teams and the last North Star Conference regular season game ever.

UW-GB (20-5, 11-0) comes in confident and with nothing to lose, having already wrapped up the top seed in next week’s NSC Tournament at the field house.

Meanwhile, the Huskies (14-12, 8-3), coming off a 95-75 loss to Northwestern Tuesday, need to do some convincing before the tourney begins.

“We need some confidence,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “Unless we get some confidence, we won’t win the first round of our tournament. We have to prove to ourselves that we can play. We haven’t had a confidence booster since we beat Stephen F. Austin (Dec. 16).

“The pressure is on us. It all begins now because (the focus) is on our conference teams. Certainly, we’ll have to give it a much better shot against them.”

Although the pressure defense of Northwestern plagued NIU, fouls and not having the services of junior forward Dianna Wingis also didn’t help matters.

Wingis sat out for precautionary reasons due to a lower back contusion she suffered against Florida State. “We’ll definitely have her back on Thursday,” Albright-Dieterle said.

Because the Wildcats took it to the hole continuously, the Huskies committed 23 fouls and put Northwestern on the line 28 times.

“We continue to foul and continue to give (teams)

opportunities at the foul line,” Albright-Dieterle said. “On the second-to-last game of the season, we should know better.”

For Albright-Dieterle, she also hopes that the students will respond to someone in need, like graduate student Bob Jordan, who needs money for a life-saving pancreas transplant. The coach will personally donate $500 if 2,000 students attend tonight’s game.