The roof isn’t exactly blowing off the top of the Convocation Center, but the apathy that surrounded NIU’s basketball program for so long is fading away. Fans are turning out to cheer on the Huskies. They’re interested in an NIU team that has won 21 games.
“We are super pumped especially Phi Sigma Kappa,” says NIU student Travon Williams. “We’re really happy to see the basketball team going far. We’re at every game representing.”
“People on campus are getting really excited because more people have been coming to it (games) every time,” says NIU student Melissa Egger. “They’ve been doing outstanding, so it’s been really hyping everybody up.”
“There’s enthusiasm,” says former NIU sports information director Mike Korcek. “There’s people in the stands. This is the way it was in the old days when Brian Hammel was here. John McDougal, Tom Jorgensen. People in DeKalb and this area want to see a winner.”
The present looks good, but the future looks even better. There’s only one senior on the team and five outstanding freshmen.
“I see these freshmen here, and I used to coach basketball, and these guys are some players out there,” says season ticket holder Ernie Esposito. “And I understand they’ve got some good guys coming in.”
This is the Huskies first winning season in ten years. NIU’s program has clearly turned a corner in year five under Mark Montgomery. The future is bright but the present also holds a lot of promise. NIU already has received invitations to three postseason tournaments the CIT, CBI and Vegas 16.
“I would be excited if they made it to any tournament,” says Williams.
If the Huskies can find out a way to pull off three wins in Cleveland later this week at the MAC Tournament they’ll be going to the NCAA Tournament. Huskies fans aren’t ruling that out.
“John Calipari we’re coming for you OK! NIU is coming for you and you better watch out,” says NIU student Benjamin McCarty.