Oct. 30, 2007
DeKalb, Ill. - Both the Northern Illinois men's and women's basketball squads have high expectations for the upcoming 2007-08 campaign and head coaches Ricardo Patton and Carol Owens shared their thoughts at DeKalb Media Day at the NIU Convocation Center on Tuesday afternoon.
Patton, the first-year skipper for the Huskies, comes to DeKalb after serving the previous 11 seasons as the head coach at the University of Colorado and leading the Buffs to six postseason berths.
Patton sees no reason why his Huskies can not achieve the same feat.
"When we first got here, we hung up a banner in our locker room that reads, `Anything less than a national championship will always be short of our goal'," Patton said. "Why shouldn't our student-athletes want to win a national championship? Should they not think that because they haven't? I think not.
"Success starts in the mind and we are training for the mental and physical aspects of this game," Patton continued. "People thought I was crazy when I said the same thing at Colorado and they had not been to the NCAA tournament in over 30 years.
"The championship will be our ultimate goal, and we will always be striving as far as we can to reach that goal."
Owens, who helped guide the Huskies to 19 wins and a berth in the MAC semifinals last season, has beefed up the schedule in order to prepare her squad for the always tough Mid-American Conference campaign. NIU's non-conference slate includes local rival DePaul, Iowa, Michigan State and Conference USA favorite, Tulane.
"We are not avoiding competition this year," Owens said. "We would like to be at those teams playing levels at some point in the season.
"To do that, we have to go through some of the best teams," Owens continued. "Most of all, we want to be competitive in our conference and that is why we scheduled some of these tougher teams."
Season tickets for men's basketball ($119) and women's basketball ($50) are available through the NIU Ticket Office at (815) 752-6800, and can be ordered online at www.niuhuskies.com.
The men's basketball team opens up the exhibition campaign on November 2nd, as they welcome Aurora at 7 p.m. The women's squad takes to the court on November 6th, as Robert Morris comes to the NIU Convocation Center for en exhibition showdown at 7 p.m.
MEDIA DAY QUOTES
NIU Athletics Director Dr. Jim Phillips
"It is a new beginning for both programs this year. Carol Owens welcomes back a group that has six newcomers. So this is almost like a new team for her and I know that they play some tough competition this year. Her squad plays against DePaul this year, here at the Convocation Center and also Bowling Green who placed in the `Sweet Sixteen' last year in the NCAA tournament.
"On the men's side we welcome Ricardo Patton as the first year head coach of our men's basketball program. We are very excited about the upgrade in the schedule as well for men's basketball. We go over to the Northern Iowa holiday tournament this year and we also welcome the Air Force Academy to our campus this year as well. All these teams averaged 20 wins last year and we are thrilled to have them on our schedule. We are very excited to tip off the year this year with a lot of new faces in both programs for 2007-2008"
NIU Head Women's Basketball Coach, Carol Owens
"We are excited about this season. There is never a dull moment and we have six new people, and we are just beginning right now. We are doing really well so far. We start early at 6AM, and it has been very exciting."
"We have four post-players and eight guards this year. We will be playing an up-tempo game this year on both sides of the ball and we are going to pressure the ball. We need to be more physical this year and our schedule is very competitive this year, so we will have to play with a better intensity in order to compete."
"We are not avoiding competition this year. We would like to be at those teams playing levels at some point in the season. When E.C. [Hill] and I played together here, we were ranked in the top twenty-five and that is where we would like to be this year. To do that, we have to go through some of the best teams. Most of all, we want to be competitive in our conference and that is why we scheduled some of these tougher teams."
NIU Head Men's Basketball Coach, Ricardo Patton
"Our ultimate goal is to compete with teams of high caliber like Kansas this year. Our practices have been very physical and we have learned from each other as well as the women's program as well."
"Our scheduling is all focused on preparing our team for post-season play. Our preseason schedule is focused on preparing us for our extremely tough conference play as well. This facility deserves to have the best teams in the country to come and entertain our fans, and that's why we want to schedule those teams."
"What can you expect from our team? On the defensive end, you can expect us to play extremely hard. We try to train our guys to be able to play longer and harder than our opponent. Typically, the team that can do that has the best shot at winning the game. The guy that can play the hardest the longest will win, and that is our mentality. We are trying to change the attitude and the culture of the group as well. When a program has been having trouble generating success, you have to be willing to do a little bit more than the next guy. That's why we have practices at 6AM or at 5AM to 7AM to 9PM in the evening. Whenever they throw it up, we should be ready."
"When you see us play, you will see us play extremely hard especially on defense, and on offense, we will be extremely unselfish. Good teams are successful because of the ball movement that they have and that is what it is going to take. That is the way the game is supposed to be played, that's the type of game I think our fans will enjoy seeing, and most importantly it is the type of game that will bring success to this program."
"When we first got here, we hung up a banner in our locker room that reads, `Anything less than a national championship will always be short of our goal'. Why shouldn't our student athletes want to win a national championship? Should they not think that because they haven't? I think not. Success starts in the mind and we are training for the mental and physical aspects of this game. People thought I was crazy when I said that at Colorado and they had not been to the NCAA tournament in over 30 years. The championship will be our ultimate goal, and we will always be striving as far as we can to reach that goal."
Senior guard/forward Ben Rand (on Coach Patton)
"It is kind of nice to have a new set of energy coming into the program but it is also a new style that you have to get used to. I really do like his style [Ricardo Patton] so far though."
Senior guard Whitney Lowe (on how practice is going)
"We are very young, but we work well together. We all want to win and we set the standards really high last year. We are not the favorite to do as well as we did last year, but we are not letting anything like that bother us right now. We have just been working really well together right now.
On her role:
"I have to make sure I minimize the mistakes and the turnovers and make the most out of the time that I get on the court. As a freshman, I watched the upper classmen a lot and learned from them so I have to make sure I set a good example for them because they are going to be relying on me this year.
The difference between this year's team and last year's:
"Coach still says that we are going to push the ball once again this year. Stephanie Raymond was a tremendous leader for our team last year and she was a big reason why we got to where we went last year as a team. We are going to collectively come together as a team to get it done this year. We cannot just rely on just one person this season."