Sunday, February 06, 2000


NKU's Listerman leads on, off court

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Kevin Listerman has his degree in biology education. But he calls himself “a chemistry guy.”

        That's how Northern Kentucky University's fifth-year senior point guard describes his brand of basketball: “It means doing all the little things to help the team win. Setting screens to get someone open, passing up a shot to give it to someone else, being a cheerleader so other guys keep their heads up.”

        The sum value of those little things? “He's the most outstanding leader I've ever had the pleasure of coaching,” coach Ken Shields said.

        That covers 36 years.

        As a four-year starter, Listerman has won 97 games, led NKU to two Division II national title games, and captained the finest era in the program's history. Yet Listerman's legacy will be just as strong off the court.

        He graduated in December with a 3.94 GPA and has begun pursuing his master's degree in education. He is serving his third year on the NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, this year as national chairman. He also serves as the lone student member of the Kentucky Council on Post-secondary Education.

        Starting to understand how a team's eighth-leading scorer (5.7 ppg) can be such a leader?

        “A leader's not necessarily someone who has to be the leading scorer or get the headline in the paper,” Listerman said. “I'm very conscious to not put myself ahead of the team. I show the guys I'm human, I'm nothing special, but that I know what it takes to get where we want to be.”

        Make no mistake, he can lead by example.

        As a freshman out of Covington Catholic, he began in the shadow of older brother Andy, a sophomore starter. But he soon became a starter himself, then made the all-NCAA Regional Tournament team after totaling 10 assists in an upset at Southern Indiana.

        Then in a national quarterfinal game against Cal State Bakersfield, NKU trailing by a point, Kevin drove the length of the court and passed to Andy for the winning layup with 2.8 seconds left.

        “Out of the corner of my eye I saw a yellow flash, and I knew that was us,” Listerman said. “It turned out to be Andy, and that made it much more special.”

        Listerman's highest scoring average for a season is just 8.7 points, two years ago. But his is an all-around game.

        Look at his averages this year: 4.3 rebounds, third on the team; 2.1 steals, best on the team; 3.6 assists and 2.0 turnovers, a strong ratio. He shoots 43 percent from the field and 87 percent from the free-throw line.

        He's just 5-foot-11, but don't sell him short.

        “He really plays all five positions in our lineup,” Shields said. “He's like our wild card.”

        Listerman's game is equal parts passion and control, alternating knee-burning dives with precision passing. He's instant intensity, the fire behind NKU's charge for a championship.

        “He's not blessed with great speed or jumping ability,” Shields said. “He reminds me a lot of Pete Rose. He's all hustle.”

        Listerman takes great pride in his work for the advisory committee, which deals with the welfare and image of Division II student-athletes.

        An example of their work: Two years ago, his committee expressed concern about abuses of the rule which limits teams to 20 hours of practice per week.

        “We brought it to the (NCAA) Management Council's attention; they had no idea,” he said. “There was a resulting crackdown from athletic directors and school administrators to be more compliant. We really do have a powerful voice.”

        Listerman said he plans a coaching career, either with high schools or colleges. But his sole focus right now is helping the eighth-ranked Norse (19-3) vie for their first national title.

        “That would be the fairy-tale ending,” he said. “The neat thing is, it's not that far out of reality. We think this might be the year.”

        LEDFORD AT TMC BANQUET: Legendary broadcaster Cawood Ledford, the former voice of Kentucky basketball, will be the featured speaker Feb.26 at the annual Thomas More College Sports Banquet. Tickets ($10) include a dinner, cocktails and participation in a silent auction of sports memorabilia.

        For tickets or info, call Todd Asalon at 344-3532.

        Neil Schmidt is The Enquirer's Northern Kentucky sports reporter. Call him at 578-5582 or send e-mail to


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