Thursday, March 08, 2001

Logan loses fat carrying Bearcats




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        LOUISVILLE — Steve Logan is disappearing before our eyes. The pounds come off and his feet get faster. The University of Cincinnati's junior guard has dropped 26 pounds and gained the quickness to devour defenders off the dribble. What once was a blob is becoming a blur.

        “They used to call me Fat Boy,” Logan said Wednesday morning. “You reach a point where you just want to shut everybody up.”

        If Steve Logan has not silenced all the skeptics, the remaining holdouts would be hard-pressed to reach a quorum for a barbershop quartet. Logan has been the basketball Bearcats' spiritual leader this season, become their leading scorer and belied a reputation as a one-dimensional outside shot with an expanding full-court game.

        For these achievements, he was rewarded Wednesday with Conference USA's Player of the Year award. The league may be down this year — out of 12 teams, only the Bearcats seem assured a place in the NCAA Tournament — yet it is hard to imagine a player anywhere in America more deserving of accolades than Steven Deontay Logan.

Desire over talent

        He is a triumph of desire over talent, a player of relatively meager physical gifts who has virtually willed his way to stardom. Even now, trimmed down and more vividly muscular, the 6-foot Logan is not much to look at. And yet, he is something to see.

        “He just has a great understanding of how to play,” UC coach Bob Huggins said. “I saw him play as a freshman or a sophomore at (Cleveland) St. Ed's and he had a great understanding of how to play back then. ... I couldn't believe a fat guy could play that good.”

        Three times, Logan led St.Ed's to the Ohio Division I finals, yet Huggins wondered how well the fat kid's game would hold up at a higher level. He continued to waver on Logan until he watched another prospective shooting guard misfire on an epic scale — 2-for-21 as he remembers it. Only then did Huggins invite Logan to Clifton for a recruiting visit.

        Plan B, it turns out, has worked brilliantly.

        Logan lacks the athletic ability of Kenny Satterfield, but he has met the challenge of the younger, more streamlined point guard with a dedicated diet and the resourcefulness of a guy who couldn't depend on his gifts.

        Satterfield started the season as the focal point of UC's offense, but the Bearcats didn't get good until Huggins rebalanced the ball-handling burden and Logan assumed more scoring responsibilities. He would average 21.9 points during the last 15 games of the regular season, and he became the first Bearcat since Pat Cummings (1978-79) to lead the team in scoring 11 straight games.

        “He's been asked to do a lot more,” Huggins said, “because he's had to.”

        He's been able to do a lot more because he has gained a step through weight-watching. When he drives the lane for a pull-up jump shot now, he has the speed to get the shot off. Before, Logan says, such a shot was likely to get blocked.

        “I always wanted to grow up and be a special player,” he said.

        He has made it by growing smaller.

        E-mail tsullivan@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/sullivan.

       



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