Friday, November 26, 1999

Not just a day at beach for UC


Bearcats face Cleveland State in opener today

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HILO, Hawaii — To arrive at the site of the Big Island Invitational, the Arkansas basketball team drove two hours from Fayetteville to Tulsa, flew to Salt Lake City, then to Los Angeles, then to Maui and at last arrived here. That took about 19 hours and got the Razorbacks to town late Wednesday.

        The Cincinnati Bearcats came by bus.

        Well, not the entire way. They traveled to Hawaii on Monday and spent the past three days at a posh resort, The Orchid, on the Kona side of the Big Island. An envious Nolan Richardson, coach at Arkansas, said, “I understand a couple of these teams have been here a few weeks.”

UC vs. CLEVELAND ST.
  • When: 5 p.m. today
  • Where: Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium
  • Records: UC 1-0; Cleveland State 0-1
  • TV: Fox Sports Net (tape delay, 6:30 p.m.)
  • Radio: WLW-AM 700
  BY THE NUMBERS
  • 34: Fouls called against Cleveland State in its opening loss to Ohio U.
  • 3: Average number of wins by which the Vikings have improved in their first three years under Rollie Massimino. They were 14-14 last year.
  • 4: Number of Ohio schools on the UC schedule (also Youngstown State, Xavier and Ohio).
  • 36-15: UC's record against teams in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference
        UC coach Bob Huggins said the early arrival of the top-ranked Bearcats (1-0) cost them little in terms of class time. It also gave them a chance to get in three days of practice instead of just one jet-lagged workout before today's 5 p.m. tournament opener against Cleveland State (0-1).

        They chose to stay near Kona after Huggins spoke with his buddy Charlie Spoonhour, who had Saint Louis in this tournament last season.

        “This is beautiful,” Huggins said, “but it rains quite a bit. They said we'd be a whole lot better off on the other side of the island.”

        In Kona, the Bearcats were pleased with the rec center in which they practiced. On their first day in Hilo, their practice times were fouled up — they had only been booked for an hour — so they had to stop after an hour, board buses and then pick up where they left off.

        “They were good for that first hour,” Huggins said, but lost their focus when they were interrupted.

        In the daily morning workouts leading up to this tournament, the Bearcats continued to focus on getting their young players introduced to the UC system.

        They played their first game without an element so basic as a sideline out-of-bounds play. They took care of that, as well as some situational schemes.

        “We just added a few things,” Huggins said. “We keep progressing.”

BIG ISLAND INVITATIONAL
 (all times EST)
  Friday
  1: Cincinnati vs. Cleveland State, 5 p.m.
  2: Rhode Island vs. Santa Clara, 7:30 p.m.
  3: Arkansas vs. Mercer, 10 p.m.
  4: Iowa State vs. Hawaii-Hilo, 12:30 a.m.

  Saturday
  5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 5 p.m.
  6: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7:30 p.m.
  7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 10 p.m.
  8: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 12:30 a.m.

  Sunday
  9: Game 5 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 1:30 p.m.
  10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 4 p.m.
  11: Game 6 loser vs. Game 7 loser, 6:30 p.m.
  12: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 9 p.m.

        In addition to their basketball work, the Bearcats enjoyed resort activities such as snorkeling, during which center Kenyon Martin got a cut on his knee that required stitches but should not affect him against the Vikings.

        Wednesday night, they attended a luau that was highlighted by an invitation to B.J. Grove, Pete Mickeal, Donald Little and video coordinator Chris Goggin to dance the hula onstage.

        The fun they've enjoyed in Hawaii needs to be set aside during the next three days, though, and moving to the less desirable side of the island to a no-frills seaside hotel reinforced that it's time for business.

        “That's one of our problems right now,” said sophomore guard Steve Logan. “"We play hard for a certain amount of time, and then we have guys slacking off or wandering off in the stands or something. We've just got to know how to stay focused and play throughout the whole game as a team.”

        Cleveland State is not a daunting opponent, but enough of its players are familiar to the Bearcats they should know not to dismiss this as an easy win.

        Point guard Damon Stringer was a starter at Ohio State with Bearcats forward Jermaine Tate before both transferred. The Bearcats recruited CSU junior guard Theo Dixon of Cleveland Heights, scouted starting forward Sonny Johnson of Garfield Heights (a former Ohio Mr. Basketball) and played against forward Ricardo Crumble and guard Doc Taylor when they were freshmen at DePaul.

        “I think they're pretty good,” Huggins said. “Damon Stringer gives them another perimeter threat. Their guards are probably as good as most people we play.

        “I think a lot of their guys are really excited about playing us, because we're one of the schools they thought about. Aside from us being No.1, it's a great opportunity for them to prove something.”



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