Sunday, February 10, 2002

NKU's Sanders all about the game


College update

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If there is one thing Northern Kentucky University senior Craig Sanders loves, it's basketball.

        Basketball was part of his life long before he graduated from McNicholas High School in 1997 with 1,834 career points, and basketball will remain part of him when he leaves the Norse program this spring with school records in career 3-pointers (328) and consecutive double-figure-scoring games (41).

        Following May graduation, he'll trade in his gym shoes for dress shoes to focus on a business-management career.

        “I have no regrets. I've accomplished pretty much what I've wanted to with basketball,” Sanders said. “Now I want to do what I've been training for in school for the past five years.”

        Sanders, a 6-foot-3 guard, leads the Norse (15-6, 11-4 Great Lakes Valley Conference) in scoring, averaging 19.3 ppg through Friday. With 1,865 career points, he needs 116 to become the school's all-time leader.

        To snap Brady Jackson's record, set from 1979-1983, Sanders needs to average 19.3 points in the Norse's last six games.

        “Getting the career points was a goal coming into the season, but I don't worry about that now,” Sanders said. “I worry about winning games, really. I know the rest will come.”

        Coach Ken Shields knows if Sanders wants the record, Sanders will get it.

        “You can tell he loves the game,” Shields said. “He practices hard with tremendous enthusiasm and is a very consistent player. Not only can he shoot the ball well outside, he has the ability to put it to the floor and take it to the basket, too."

        Coming off a season that ended at the NCAA Division II Region finals, Sanders was one of four returning letter-winners. At first, he wasn't sure how he would fit in with the young team. Carl Mitchell (13.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg), the only other senior, and Sanders had to adjust to a mix that included seven freshmen, one sophomore and five juniors.

        Plus, the Norse changed their style of play. Formerly known for their patience and a sharp mental game, the emphases turned to speed and transition.

        Sanders remained a constant, making an impact with more than just his ability to score.

        “Basically, when he comes to play, the team comes to play,” junior guard Brenden Stowers said. “I think it's good the attention is on him, because it opens up a lot of other people and makes it easier for us to score.”

        Before he leaves Regents Hall permanently to pursue career dreams, he has one last basketball dream — an NCAA championship.

        The Norse have advanced to the tournament six of the last seven seasons. They made it to the finals twice in school history (1996, 1997), losing both times.

        Sanders contends this could be the year of the championship.

        “I know what this team can do, and we haven't gotten there yet,” Sanders said. “I think it's within our reach.”

        OTHERS

        Amy Ballman (Madeira), a Lincoln Memorial University women's soccer defender, was named to the Gulf South Conference All-Academic team. Ballman, who has a 3.72 GPA, helped the team to a 10-8-1 record and scored her first two collegiate goals this fall.

        Rick Kloth (Kings) was named to the NAIA Scholar Athlete team. The junior football player carries a 3.52 GPA at the University of St. Francis (Ind.).

        Amy Broxterman (Colerain), a freshman swimmer at the University of Indianapolis, was part of the winning 400 free relay team (3:41.01) in the team's recent 152-71 defeat of Wayne State.

        College of Mt. St. Joseph senior Lisa Sutton was selected to the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association 2001 Academic All-Ohio Division III third team. Sutton, who has a 3.61 GPA, helped lead the Lions to a regional semifinal appearance.

        Kyle Verrett (Ursuline Academy), a sophomore guard at the University of New Haven, was selected to the all-tournament team at the 37th annual Pocano Classic at East Stroudsburg University. Verrett averages 10.8 ppg and is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent from the free throw line.

       Shannon Russell can be reached at (513) 768-8438, or email her at srussell@enquirer.com.
       

       



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