Saturday, January 06, 2001

UC fans love to hate Guevara

Charlotte guard's kisses have earned him boos

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Diego Guevara gave the kiss of death to UC's unbeaten season in 1999.
(AP photo)

| ZOOM |
        He isn't expected to start tonight when the University of Cincinnati plays host to Charlotte in the Conference USA opener for both teams. But Diego Guevara knows that as soon as he gets in the game, he's going to hear from UC fans.

        The Charlotte senior, a two-year starter averaging 7.1 points as a reserve, has been booed every time he has touched the ball in his past two appearances in Shoemaker Center.

        He does not receive this treatment anywhere else. Nor do Bearcats fans express their dislike for any other player in the league in such a manner.

        It all started Jan. 14, 1999. The Bearcats were 15-0 and ranked No. 3 when they went to Charlotte and lost 62-60. (Story). Guevara blew kisses to his wife, Patricia, after each of his four 3-point field goals, including one that gave the 49ers the lead for good with 2:23 left.

  • When: 6:05 p.m. today.
  • Where: Shoemaker Center (13,176).
  • Records: Charlotte (8-4), No.25 UC (9-3).
  • TV: Channel 19.
  • Radio: WLW-AM (700).
  • Tickets: Unclaimed student tickets for tonight's game go on sale at noon today at the UC athletic ticket office. Tickets are $20. Call 556-CATS.
  J. Zimmerman -6-5-Sr.-9.2
  Rodney White -6-8-Fr.-20.1
  Cam Stephens -6-8-Jr.-9.4
  Jobey Thomas -6-4-Jr.-12.6
  Demon Brown-6-1-So.-16.9
  Coach: Bobby Lutz (48-31, third season; 229-122 overall)
  Leonard Stokes-6-6-So.-13.3
  Jamaal Davis -6-9-Jr.-9.6
  Donald Little-6-11-So.-7.8
  Steve Logan-6-0-Jr.-12.6
  Kenny Satterfield-6-2-So.-16.9
  Coach: Bob Huggins (285-89, 12th season; 453-161 overall)
  • 32: Consecutive UC home victories in league play.
  • 65-11: UC's all-time C-USA record.
  • 46-30: Charlotte's all-time C-USA record.
  • 13.0: Steve Logan's scoring average in five games against Charlotte.
        He had done that previously, and he has done it since. But Bearcats fans were offended personally.

        “I guess they took it the wrong way,” Guevara said. “I was just doing whatever I always do.”

        Guevara, of Venezuela, is No. 3 all time in Conference USA history in 3-point field goals (198). In eight games against the Bearcats, he has averaged 8.1 points while shooting .279 from the field (17-of-61) and .357 from 3-point range (16-of-42).

        In his past two games at Shoemaker, he is a combined 5-of-21 from the field and 4-of-14 on 3-point tries with a 10-point scoring average.

        “It's an honor to go there and play against one of the best programs in the country,” the 6-foot-2 guard said. “It is fun.

        “You don't like being booed every time you touch the ball, but it's something very interesting. The fans are always ready. That's the kind of atmosphere that everybody would like to play in.”

        His only objection: getting hit in the back of the head with a quarter in February '99.

        “That's the part that is not fun, when they start throwing stuff,” Guevara said. “They can say whatever they want, because I don't really pay attention to it. I expect that.”

        Guevara was married in July 1997. He and his wife are expecting their first child in July. They are both marketing majors. Patricia received her degree from Charlotte in December; Diego expects to get his this spring.

        He suffered a groin injury the first week of practice and missed about three weeks. First-year sophomore Demon Brown stepped into the starting lineup and performed well. He is second on the team in scoring (16.9 ppg), leads the 49ers with 38 3-pointers and has twice as many assists (58) as turnovers (29).

        Brown and 6-8 freshman Rodney White, the league's leading scorer (20.1 ppg), are main reasons Charlotte is expected to challenge for the C-USA title.

        Guevara had his best game of the season Wednesday against George Washington, hitting three of five shots and finishing with eight assists and just one turnover in 27 minutes. The previous six games, he was 5-of-31 from the field.

        “I worked so hard during the summer,” Guevara said. “I was probably in the best shape of my life coming into practice. I wasn't expecting to take this kind of role. I guess I wasn't ready for it, and I've been having a hard time adjusting. That was probably the toughest part of my career in Charlotte.

        “The last game, I just started having fun and going out there and playing as hard as I can.”

        Said Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz: “We need him to give us some senior leadership whether he's starting or coming off the bench. For us to be good, there are a lot of things that have to happen, but one is we've got to get quality play from him ”

        The 49ers have never won in five games at Shoemaker.

        UC has been through a demanding week of practice. The Bearcats are coming off a loss to Toledo and are in danger of falling out of the Top 25 for the first time since midway through the 1997-98 season.

        The Bearcats, five-time regular-season conference champions, have not lost a home league game since Feb.22, 1996 (Louisville).

        “We're trying to regroup,” UC junior guard Steve Logan said. “We know that wasn't us out there playing (against Toledo). When things get tough, we seem to fold, where we've got to learn how to step up the plate. That comes with time. But we'll get it.”

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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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