Saturday, March 13, 1999
Bearcats respond to pep talk
BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
UC guard Melvin Levett said a pep talk from coach Bob Huggins the night before the GMU game had a lot to do with the Bearcats' more intense approach to the start of the game.
It was kind of of inspriational, Levett said. I know it was for me.
It was basically about team, about guys wanting to go their own way. He was talking about, "It's tough to beat all of us. When we all come together, it's hard to beat everybody.'
Freshman forward Eugene Land, a Roger Bacon product, was among Huggins' first substitutes against George Mason and played 18 minutes, getting six points and four rebounds and a steal.
He had not played 18 minutes combined in the Bearcats' previous eight games and did not play at all in the C-USA tournament.
Eugene's been better, a lot more focused and into trying to figure out what we needed him to do than he had been in a while, Huggins said.
It looked as though it would be another long, short day for center Kenyon Martin when he picked up two fouls in the first four minutes.
The officials gave Martin a break when he flew over the back of GMU's Keith Holdan in the first two minutes contesting a rebound, but he soon tested their patience by bumping ballhandlers along the sideline.
He was tagged with personal No. 1 at the 17:22 mark, spending that foul 35 feet from the goal as he tried to trap a ballhandler, then got No. 2 just 44 seconds later on the opposite side of the court.
Huggins said Martin came to courtside with tears in his eyes. Huggins decided to send Martin back in before halftime in order to keep him from becoming disengaged from the game.
You can't save fouls now, Huggins said. They don't help in summer league.
In addition to struggling with foul trouble, Martin is being bothered by pain in his toe that makes it harder for him to land after jumping.
UC assistant coach Rod Baker interviewed with Holy Cross athletic director Dick Reagan regarding the opening for head coach of the Crusaders.
Baker previously was head coach at UC-Irvine. He is an alumnus of Holy Cross.
Levett's 11 points moved him into 25th place on the school's career scoring list. Fittingly, it was a dunk that gave him the milestone. He has 1,105 points. He still has a chance to pass Bill Lammert (1,119, 1952-55) and George Wilson (1,124, 1962-64) and could get into the top 20 if the Bearcats made a long tournament run.