Sunday, December 10, 2000

Monday will show what Bearcats learned

Week of teaching will be put to test

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Bob Huggins has mixed feelings. The University of Cincinnati coach thinks his veteran players would have benefitted from playing a game during this past week. He also believes some of the new Bearcats were in need of practice repetitions.

        No matter what, he's hoping that when UC takes the floor Monday against Oakland (8:05 p.m., Shoemaker Center), it will be a better team than when it last played, Nov.29 at Dayton.

        “I think we're making progress,” Huggins said. “It remains to be seen how good we can be. I think for the most part, they're trying. We haven't figured out what really selling out for the cause is yet. We haven't totally sold out for one another. We're young; I think that'll come.

        “... Most people don't go three hours with the intensity that we do. It takes a little while to learn what playing hard is, what being mentally tough is, what being physical is within the confines of the rules.”

        UC (3-1) is on its longest in-season break in four years. During the 1996-97 season, the Bearcats were off from Dec.4 to Dec.17. In 1989-90, UC had 14 days between games, though it played an exhibition in that span.

        In addition to final exams, it has been a week and a half of teaching, motivating, prodding and pleading. Huggins is trying to mold five new scholarship players, a walk-on and a football player with his veterans, most of whom have never played a major role.

        The early season brought mixed results. This was a key learning period.

        Does he enjoy this kind of challenge?

        “This is ultimately why we do what we do,” Huggins said. “All the other stuff I have to do. This is why I started coaching, because I love being in the gym working with guys, watching them progress and get better. When I get tired of teaching, I'll quit and do something else.”

        ADDITION: Junior walk-on Rodney Crawford is expected to become eligible to join the Bearcats for Monday night's game. The 6-foot-5 forward, a Woodward High School graduate, played last season at Bakersfield (Calif.) College.

        “We could use everybody,” Huggins said. “He's been good in practice; he plays hard. He gives us toughness, and we could use a little toughness.”

        Crawford has been working out with the team but watching home games from the bench in street clothes. He has tried to learn what Huggins likes and doesn't like.

        “I will try to do all the little things, like box out, rebound, play hard and play defense aggressively,” Crawford said. HELPING KIDS: The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will accept donations for Toys for Tots at Monday's men's game and during the two-day women's Bearcat Invitational (Saturday and Sunday). Toys for Tots benefits disadvantaged children, who receive a new toy during the holiday season. Fans who bring a toy to the Bearcat Invitational will pay half-price to get in.


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vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


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