Sunday, December 28, 1997
Unlucky Bland leaving UC

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sophomore forward Brian Bland has decided not to return to the University of Cincinnati for the spring semester and will leave the Bearcats basketball program, coach Bob Huggins said.

Huggins said Bland, who lives in Houston, left primarily because he was homesick and felt ''in over his head'' playing at UC. Bland twice broke his nose, and the second required surgery that kept him out of practice in recent weeks.

''He wanted to leave earlier, and his parents came up and talked him into staying,'' Huggins said. ''We've had an ongoing dialogue. I think it's a positive, because he tried, and he has a better idea now of what level he can play and be successful and enjoy himself.'' Phone calls to Bland's home were not answered.

Bland was recruited out of Temple (Tex.) Junior College in August, after UC became convinced recruit Marvin Dixon would not qualify academically.

Bland demonstrated in early practices he had fine hands and a sweet shooting touch, but his lack of strength and athleticism made it difficult for him to earn playing time. He got in two games for a total of six minutes and did not score.

''I'm sure that was part of it,'' Huggins said. ''He just really had some bad luck. He got banged up in the first couple practices and he never got healthy.''

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