Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Logan, Satterfield make strong point

Now Bearcats hope that means NCAA success

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        One given of Final Fourdom is a team must have a reliable point guard to enter, and it doesn't hurt if that player is extremely gifted. But what if a team has two?

        The Cincinnati Bearcats attained the No.1 ranking while playing both sophomore Steve Logan and freshman Kenny Satterfield at point guard, but the NCAA Tournament is more objective than an opinion poll.

        “I always heard, and I also believe, that you've got to have a good backup point guard and a good point guard on the floor, as well,” Logan said. “Many championships have been won with two good guards making free throws at the end, guarding the perimeter, and I think that's an advantage.

        “I think we're actually coming together, realizing what more we need to do.”

        Because the Bearcats lost in the second round in each of the past three seasons against lower-seeded teams, each bit of progress this group makes is viewed with skepticism. Every flaw is another piece of evidence the tournament again will claim the Bearcats as victims.

        The one true thread connecting those second-round defeats was the absence of quality point guard play.

        In those three losses, the two players each year who played the point for the Bearcats combined to shoot 10-of-30 from the field, pass for 15 assists and make 16 turnovers. Equally important, the opposing point was not well-defended; he averaged 13.3 points.

        Whereas none of this team's predecessors went into the tournament with one point guard coach Bob Huggins could trust completely, Satterfield and Logan may give him two.

        “We can put both of them on the floor,” Huggins said, “and that's a positive.”

        It remains a developing situation, though. For the majority of the time he shares with Satterfield, Logan plays the shooting guard position, and he still is adjusting.

        For a nine-game period between Dec.16 and Jan.12, Lo gan shot 3-of-20 from 3-point range. In the past three games, he is 7-of-12 (a .435 percentage, eighth in Conference USA).

        “The last three games, I wasn't thinking about shooting the ball,” Logan said. “I was catching and I was thinking I was going to knock it in. Before, I was thinking about, "Is it a good shot? Should I pass it or not?' And I was hesitating.”

        Satterfield has been more effective after a similarly timed slump. He is having to deal with playing as a reserve and the uncertainty of knowing whether his decisions will result in another basket or another Bearcat entering the game in his place.

        On Dec.30, he was averaging 9.5 points, 4.6 assists and .513 shooting. In seven games since, he's shooting .245. But strong passing efforts in the past three games have him at 5.0 assists for the month.

        “I've been shooting extra, so eventually one game that'll come back,” Satterfield said. “The shot's not going in. I'm still shooting the ball, and it's just not falling. I've just got to keep working on it and it'll come.”

        Huggins has seen no reason to tinker with how he deploys his two point guards — especially with the Bearcats so regularly jetting into early, commanding leads behind Logan and with Satterfield providing an extra dose of speed when the opponent least can afford it.

        “We're used to it now,” Satterfield said. “And we're playing a lot together. We're getting to know each other a little better, getting a better feeling for each other. Coach said it's the best thing for the team for me to come off the bench, and I'm going to try to help the team. It doesn't bother me.”

        UC's approach to the point guard spot is not unique. Connecticut had two in its starting lineup in winning the national championship last season: sophomore Khalid El-Amin and senior Ricky Moore.

        El-Amin was an offensive force who could energize the attack; Moore was a defensive stopper who provided leadership and stability when necessary.

        “It's just all helping one another; that's how I see it,” Logan said. “Khalid wasn't ready; Ricky stepped up and helped his teammate. If something isn't going right, somebody else has got to step up.”

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