Tuesday, February 09, 1999

Bearcats turn up pressure

UC spends day working on its traps

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In examining the list of factors they must address in order to defeat the Cincinnati Bearcats, can opponents scratch “handling pressure” from the list?

        That appeared to be the case when No.4 UC (21-2, 8-2 C- USA) lost to DePaul 61-60 in overtime Saturday. Coach Bob Huggins insisted afterward UC is a good pressing team.

        “We can't pressure,” Huggins said, “When we press, it's an opportunity for them to shoot layups. We can't pressure.

        “I've known it all along. I keep trying, but it won't work.”

        Well, the Bearcats were back at it Monday in their first post-DePaul workout. They went three hours and focused heavily on creating traps with pressure defense, traps that could lead to more easy baskets but that require an intense defensive effort to work.

        “We pressed for an hour, did some different things,” said UC senior guard Melvin Levett. “We played hard and got them to throw the ball away. It's just a matter of playing hard.”

        The Bearcats were able to force 17 turnovers, but generated few easy baskets and did not force the young Blue De mons to think on the run or, for that matter, to run.

        Forward Quentin Richardson and center Lance Williams were able to play 42 minutes each, and Richardson still was fresh enough to score 10 overtime points. The Bearcats' depth was not a factor.

        FINAL SHOT: Huggins was critical of Levett for taking it upon himself to attempt the final shot in UC's first overtime period. Levett wound up losing the ball to DePaul's Willie Coleman.

        “Why would I want to go 1-on-2 with a guy that can't dribble?” Huggins said. “That would be a poor coaching decision.”

        Huggins said he called for a 1-4 set with a play that would have required Steve Logan passing the ball to forward Pete Mickeal, who then would have fed Ryan Fletcher in the left post.

        With about 15 seconds left, Levett looked to the bench and tapped himself on the chest, asking if Huggins wanted him to create the final shot.

        “It was a lot of confusion at the time. I had to check the clock, check Coach, check how the defense was playing,” Levett said. “He was saying 1-4, but I didn't know who should have the ball ... It was just a miscommunication. That's how the day was. We didn't prepare very well. We played very bad.”

        SWITCHBACK?: Huggins hinted he again might change his lineup when the Bearcats play at Marquette (11-12, 3-8) 7 p.m. Wednesday. He did say any change would not involve power forward Jer maine Tate being replaced by Fletcher.

        That means it's possible senior Michael Horton could be bumped by freshman Steve Logan. Because of his inconsistency, Horton has not played more than 20 minutes in three consecutive games.

        He went a combined 54 minutes and had 16 assists in wins against Xavier and UAB, but followed that with 24 total minutes and four assists against Tulane and DePaul.


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