The Boys Of Tom Jorgensen Men's Cage Era Return For Northern Illinois University Reunion

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES
June 6, 2005

The Boys Of Tom Jorgensen Men's Cage Era Return For Northern Illinois University Reunion

DeKALB, IL --- The Boys of Jorgy. Yes, they were the darlings of the Northern Illinois University Baby Boomer set circa 1966-73. The good, old days on campus, well, were good and, egad, a while ago.

Back in the day, Huskie basketball fans all wore “We Love Jorgy” buttons. Those red and black buttons might be collectors’ items now, but the people who attended the reunion didn’t need them to express their feelings.

The stories, the memories, the laughs, etc., all came back this past weekend (June 3-4) at the Jorgensen Reunion in the DeKalb-Sycamore area. Back in the region for the National Basketball Association Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, the time was perfect for the now 70-year-old, but younger looking Jorgensen to see his former players, assistants, friends, etc.

Previous Jorgy Reunions occurred in 1988, 1997, and 2002. The next one is slated for 2008.

The Jorgy group toured the new $37-million NIU Convocation Center, were greeted by current Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson, golfed at River Heights in DeKalb, and met for dinner at a local restaurant (Johnny’s Charhouse in Sycamore) on Saturday. Several members of the entourage talked to Northern Illinois sports information director emeritus Bud Nangle in San Diego, CA, via cell phone. As the cliche goes, a good Cardinal and Black time was had by all. Approximately 30 ex-Huskies---including guests, wives, friends---attended the dinner.

Former head coach Tom Jorgensen, now a scout with the NBA Orlando Magic, took the men’s basketball Huskies from the cornfields and into the nation’s major-college Top 20 back in those halcyon Chick Evans Field House days. Jorgy coached Northern Illinois for seven seasons and produced a 95-71 won-lost record in that time frame---including the 21-4 and 17-8 campaigns in 1971-72 and 1972-73, respectively. He was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

The highlight of Jorgensen’s tenure, of course, was the widely acclaimed 21-4 NIU Athletics Hall of Fame quintet that defeated No. 5-ranked Indiana (85-71) and crashed the Associated Press Top 20 (No. 18) that winter. That Northern Illinois quintet averaged 95.2 points-per-game, ultimately featured four professional draft picks (forward-center Jim Bradley, guard Billy “The Kid” Harris, guard Larry Jackson, and forward Jerry “Z” Zielinski), and made the NIU Hall of Fame in 1987.

Jorgensen currently lives in the Denver area. Emory Luck, former assistant and Jorgy’s successor as head coach, flew in from Fresno, CA. Keith Peterson, a former Northern Star sports editor and NIU sports information student worker, jetted in from Washington, DC.

In addition to Jorgensen, six other individual members of the NIU Hall of Fame attended the reunion----players Willie Hanson, Gordon “Doc” Nuber, Jim Smith, and Zielinski, plus Al Kranz (head trainer) and Mike Korcek (sports information director). Luck, Rohlman, and Finucane are Hall of Famers by virtue of their contributions to the aforementioned 1971-72 team.

-NIU-






Front Row (from left): Keith Peterson (sports information, Northern Star), Al Kranz (head trainer), Cliff Fulton (assistant coach), Tom Jorgensen (head coach), Emory Luck (assistant coach and later head coach), Don Russell, and Bill Finucane (manager).

Middle Row (from left): Mike Korcek (sports information, Northern Star), Nate Mason, Bill Blaisdell, Willie Hanson, Jack Kilmartin, and Aubrey Hawkins.

Back Row (from left): Gordon "Doc" Nuber, Tom Miller, Art Rohlman, Ike Johnson, Larry Turner, Jim Smith, Jerry Zielinski, and Jesse Randle.

Attended, but unable to make "team" picture: Tim Bryant, Bruce Janus, Bob Taylor, and Mike Taylor

-NIU-