Monday, December 13, 1999

Xavier talk must wait for UC

St. Louis up next for Bearcats

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For the UC Bearcats, the best thing about this season's Shootout Week is there is no Shootout Week. This time, that week lasts about 46 hours.

        The No.1-ranked Bearcats have other basketball business to mind before Saturday. They play Thursday at Saint Louis, where the Kiel Center is likely to contain 20,000 fans looking for UC to fall for the first time. Coach Bob Huggins calls this the most talented Billikens team in several years.

        A year ago, the Bearcats went from a Saturday home win against the Billikens into four days of practice and hype for the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout. This year, it's Skip Prosser's Xavier Muske teers with a week between games.

        “This way it's better,” said assistant coach Rod Baker. “I think this week is a real distraction. Last year, every day, it didn't go away. You turned on the radio, you turned on the TV, everywhere you go — that's all it was.

        “This year, we can't give a whole lot of thought to it because we have a real game, a league game against a good team at their place. It's not like we can spend a whole lot of time obsessing over Xavier.”

        It is not uncommon for the Bearcats to prepare for a game in one day. They did it eight times last season, including the single day between rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

        “We only need one or two days to prepare,” said UC forward Pete Mickeal. “That type of schedule, I like to play, where we get one or two days and then we just go on and play. The more games keep coming, the better, I think.”

        Although Huggins insists he remembers a DePaul game squeezed in directly before the Shootout, the Bearcats had two days following that win in 1994-95 to get ready for Xavier. They haven't been forced to prepare in one day since the 1984-85 season, when they went from a 20-point loss at Memphis to a 3-point loss to the Musketeers at then-Riverfront Coliseum.

        “I'm not as worried about Saint Louis and Xavier as I am worried about us,” Huggins said. “It's not going to matter what they do if we don't do what we're supposed to do. We need to fix what we're doing.”

        If Huggins' job is to deal with the big picture, it will be video coordinator Chris Goggin and assistant coach Mick Cronin handling the details.

        Cronin will prepare the scouting report on the Musketeers, as he did last season. UC generally tries to keep the same assistant coach in charge of breaking down a team that remains on the schedule from year to year.

        After finishing his work compiling Saint Louis tapes Sunday, Goggin will commence today or tomorrow breaking down Xavier's games.

        UC's got them all in its video library, from the Maryland-Eastern Shore opener to the Central Michigan road win Saturday afternoon. With a new $50,000 Avid digital editing system, Goggin can quickly compile a tape displaying the Musketeers' defensive press movements or one of Muskies forward Kevin Frey's offensive tendencies for Kenyon Martin to examine.

        “We'll have individuals broken down into six minutes of tape — tendencies, where does he like to score?” Goggin said. “And then, offensively, we'll break down all of their sets. Zone offense, man offense, whatever they do, where they like to score. We usually do about three days of tape.”

        That will be squeezed into slightly more than a day for the Xavier game. Martin won't be handed his Frey tape until after returning Friday morning from St. Louis.

        However, there will be some subliminal work done on Xavier during the four days UC has to work before Thursday's game.

        “A couple of things X does, we'll probably slip those things into practice,” Baker said. “Like Gonzaga; we started playing against the "Flex' two weeks before, just for 10 minutes a day to get a sense of what they're doing.

        “For the most part, no one will look at any tape, and we won't mention X at all. Until we get done with Saint Louis.”


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