Friday, March 03, 2000

Martin hopes bench helps Mickeal's focus


UC NOTEBOOK

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Bearcats star Kenyon Martin said he hopes the benching of fellow senior Pete Mickeal will help refocus him as UC approaches the Conference USA and NCAA tournaments.

        “I hope so. It should,” Martin said. “I just talked to him right after the game. I told him the game was over with, there was a decision that needed to be made and they made it, but we need him on Saturday and need him for the rest of the year.”

        Martin said Mickeal did not react, and so he would continue talking to him. “Pete's a competitor, so he's going to come to play next time.”

        UC coach Bob Huggins did not elaborate on his decision to bench Mickeal, but said he would return for the game Saturday against Saint Louis as the Shoemaker Center, which is Senior Night.

        “We've got to be good enough to play without have of those guys,” Huggins said. “At Oklahoma, he was in foul trouble. Kenyon was in foul trouble a few games. That's part of it.”

        MARTIN for 3!: Martin made his first career 3-pointer Thursday. He previously had attempted three this season, five in his career.

        SPRAIN DRAIN: UC freshman guard Leonard Stokes left the game with a sprained ankle. He had a soft cast put on his right ankle and will have an X-ray today. His status for the Saint Louis game will be determined at that point.

        GROVE GROOVES: With Mickeal out, UC reached deep into its bench for freshman center B.J. Grove, who played six minutes and scored a career-high six points, including four when he was matched against DePaul star Quentin Richardson.

        Grove enjoyed a five-inch height advantage on Richardson.

        UC also got two blocks from redshirt freshman Donald Little in a 15-minute stint and five rebounds from forward Ryan Fletcher in 21 minutes.

        GRAD RATING: There isn't anyone who's been around Cincinnati Bearcats basketball who doesn't see it coming. In fact, it's already here.

        When USA Today came to town to do a story on the Bearcats, it referenced the program's graduation rates. The Chicago Tribune ran a story in Thursday's editions that brought up the same subject. Talk show hosts around the nation chatter about it every week.

        And if the Bearcats should advance through the NCAA Tournament, they're likely to hear plenty more about this issue.

        UC basketball is routinely assailed for graduation rate numbers that are significantly below the national average, although these statistics don't take into account junior-college and four-year transfers, such as Terry Nelson and Anthony Buford, who've earned their degrees.

        The folks in the basketball office have taken at least one proactive step to mitigate this discussion. This week, they moved their “wall of graduates” to the outer office at the Shoemaker Center, where it can be seen by anyone who enters the athletic offices through the front door.

        Previously, the pictures of the program's graduates under Huggins -- roughly a dozen, all in cap-and-gown -- adorned an interior wall adjacent to the coach's office.

        Now, journalists who stop into the basketball office for interviews will have a tougher time ignoring the reality of UC's graduation picture.

        FLOWERS IN BLOOM: UC recruit Rod Flowers, a 6-8 power forward from Butler High in Huntsville, was named the Class 6-A player of the year in Alabama at an awards ceremony this week in Birmingham. That same day, he came home to discover he had received a qualifying score on the American College Test that will make him eligible to play for the Bearcats next season.

        The player of the year award was voted on by a panel from the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Gerald Wallace of Childersburg, a 6-7 forward who is rated one of the top three players in the nation, was named the state's Mr. Basketball.

        COUNCILMAN LOGAN: UC guard Steve Logan is a part of the Student Basketball Council arranged by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). The committee is designed to give players a voice in NCAA legislation that affects their game.

        Shane Battier is chairman of the group, which includes Brooks Hall of Dayton, Keith Bogans of Kentucky and Reece Gaines of Louisville. The first meeting was held by conference call Sunday.

        The committee heard a presentation on proposed legislation affecting the sport, including limits on summer recruiting. The players oppose significant changes to the summer period.

        They also are concerned about the rash of suspensions of NCAA athletes for issues that developed before they entered colleges, such as the one-game suspension of UC guard DerMarr Johnson for having a portion of his prep school tuition paid by his summer coach and de facto guardian, Curtis Malone.

        “We are immediately concerned and highly disappointed about the image that a lot of players are getting due to perceived violations of NCAA rules,” Battier said. “We feel that a lot of these players are getting a bad reputation and are being vilifed in the eyes of the public when, in fact, nothing morally wrong has occurred.”

        UP NEXT: The Bearcats finish their regular season at 6 p.m. Saturday at Saint Louis (Ch.19).

       



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UC 64, DePaul 62
- Martin hopes bench helps Mickeal's focus
UC won't take Harper even after charges dismissed
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