Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Foul play plagues Martin

UC center analyzes game

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Kenyon Martin got a look the other day at the most unappealing piece of videotape since Six Days, Seven Nights started showing up at Blockbuster.

        In Sunday's 91-78 victory over Louisville, Martin fouled out for the third time in five games. He since was asked to watch a video compilation of his greatest hits, in order that he might make more than a cameo when the No.9 Bearcats (23-4, 10-4) open their regular season-ending road trip Thursday night at South Florida (13-11, 6-8).

        Martin's disqualification against Louisville — his fifth of the season — was not simply a matter of the officials picking on Martin, although that was intimated by coach Bob Huggins after his center fouled out of the Saint Louis game and by Martin himself after he was disqualified against DePaul.

        This time, Huggins admitted, Martin created a lot of his own problems. “He's made some dumb fouls,” Huggins said. “You're going to get a couple playing hard, so you can't afford the dumb ones.”

        Consider Martin's odyssey through 16 minutes of playing time Sunday against Louisville:

        • Foul No.1, 16:47 left, first half: Cardinals forward Nate Johnson gets a breakaway opportunity. Instead of staying a stride behind and trying to reject the shot before it reaches the goal, Martin runs Johnson down and knocks him to the court, earning an intentional foul call.

        “I was trying to go after the ball, but I thought he was going to dunk it,” Martin said.

        Huggins said it is against UC's principles to permit an uncontested basket on a breakaway, but Martin would have been better off challenging the shot than challenging Johnson. Huggins believes Martin fouled Johnson partly out of frustration because his turnover led to the break.

        • No.2, 5:09 first half: Martin has the ball above the top of the key and is trapped by two Cardinals. Although he is dribbling and could clear space by moving toward center court, he instead throws an elbow.

        “That was a frustration foul,” Martin said. “Everyone can see that I can't do stuff like that. I've got to be on the court.”

        • No.3, 18:01 second half: Martin tries to draw a charge against Johnson but doesn't get set and squared in time and is called for a block.

        • No.4, 9:59 second half: Martin and Louisville's Marques Maybin contest a rebound and Martin is called for excess contact. Of all his personals against Louisville, this is the toughest call, but it resulted from perhaps the one rebound ing opportunity when he did not execute a box-out of the nearest Cardinal.

        • No.5, 4:10 second half: Denying position at the center of the lane, Martin hangs his elbow over Johnson's shoulder and breaks his stride.

        Acknowledged as one of the game's best shot-blockers, Martin did not pick up a single foul while trying to swat a shot.

        He did not have a block in three consecutive games, partly because Saint Louis, UNC Charlotte and Louisville kept their offenses outside — they attempted more than a third of their shots from three-point range — but also because foul difficulty has him playing less actively, if not less aggressively.

        “It's a little bit of both,” Martin said. “I guess they're thinking if they take me out of it, they've got a better chance.”

        Martin also is trying to be more sound defensively as the games become more important. In early January, there were several instances when he had the opportunity to step out and cut off an opponent's penetration, forcing him away from the goal, but instead sat back and played for a rejection.

        “I don't want to go after bad ones that take me out of position to rebound. Before, I would,” Martin said. “I'm thinking a lot more.”


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