Thursday, March 15, 2001

UC: Crash boards or crash

Bearcats need better rebounding against BYU tonight

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Donald Little at practice in San Diego Wednesday.
(AP photo)
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        SAN DIEGO The subject is rebounding. And we're talking to the University of Cincinnati big men.

        Rebounding has been perhaps the biggest weakness of this Bearcat team, the No.5 seed in the West Region that tonight faces 12th-seeded Brigham Young in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

        So, what does everyone have to say?

        Let's start with 6-foot-11 sophomore center Donald Little (5.7 rpg): “I think it's on the big guys' shoulders. If we rebound the ball, we'll be Sweet 16 — easy. I take it personal.”

        OK, next, 6-11 sophomore B.J. Grove (3.8 rpg): “You've got to want the ball. You've got to be thirsty for the ball. I've been taking it personal.”

        Fine, thanks. And 6-9 power forward Jamaal Davis (4.1 rpg) — your thoughts? “We'll be out of there before we play Indiana (in the second round) if we don't rebound. To me, it's personal.”

UC vs. BYU
  • What: NCAA Tournament West Regional, first round.
  • When: Approximately 10:25p.m. today.
  • Where: Cox Arena (12,414), San Diego.
  • Records: BYU (24-8), UC (23-9).
  • TV: Chs.12, 7.
  • Radio: WLW-AM (700).
  Nathan Cooper-6-6-Sr.-4.6
  Eric Nielsen-6-9-Jr.-6.4
  Mekeli Wesley-6-9-Sr.-17.0
  Terrell Lyday-6-3-Sr.-16.5
  Trent Whiting-6-1-Sr.-14.3
  Coach: Steve Cleveland (fourth season, 67-56; same overall)
  I. McElroy-6-4-Jr.-7.2
  Jamaal Davis-6-9-Jr.-6.6
  B.J. Grove-6-11-So.-3.8
  Steve Logan-6-0-Jr.-17.8
  K. Satterfield-6-2-So.-14.3
  Coach: Bob Huggins (299-95, 12th season; 467-167 overall)
  • 2-0: BYU's series lead over UC.
  • 12/19/71: Date of the last game between UC and BYU.
  • 2-2: BYU's record vs. the NCAA field.
  • 2-4: UC's record vs. the NCAA field.
        Seems everybody's on the same page there.

        Here are the facts:

        • This is the first time in his 12 seasons at UC a Bob Huggins-coached team has been outrebounded by its opponents.

        • The Bearcats' average of 34.9 rebounds a game is the second-lowest under Huggins behind the 1989-90 team (33.5).

        • UC's opponents are averaging 36.3 rebounds, the most ever allowed by a Huggins team; the closest was 1989-90 (34.9).

        “I don't have an answer,” Huggins said. “I've tried everything I know other than go get some more guys, which I'm going to do at the end of the year.”

        Cincinnati's postseason longevity probably rests upon its ability to rebound.

        The Bearcats (23-9) take care of the basketball, averaging 10.7 turnovers (the lowest under Huggins). They shoot fairly well from the perimeter and play good defense.

        They are 16-1 when they are at least even in the rebounding department. They are 7-8 when they lose the battle of the boards.

        One consolation regarding tonight: Brigham Young (24-8) does not crash the offensive glass much. The Cougars' goal is to slow down UC and limit its transition baskets, so after shooting, they are going to starting dropping back to play defense. They will, however, try to keep the Bearcats from getting offensive rebounds.

Kenny Satterfield wears a bandage over a cut he suffered in practice.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        What UC can't do is allow BYU to get open looks at the basket, because it is a good shooting team.

        The Cougars have three main offensive weapons who account for 60 percent of their team's points: 6-9 senior Mekeli Wesley and senior guards Trent Whiting and Terrell Lyday.

        “For us to win the game, we've got to keep those guys under control,” UC assistant coach Mick Cronin said.

        Davis, Grove and Little probably will spend time on Wesley, depending on the BYU lineup. Because of his ability to shoot from the pe rimeter, Wesley is similar to Charlotte's Rodney White, only not as athletic.

        UC has had some success trapping big men, but Wesley is a 22-year-old veteran who is not prone to mistakes; he averages 2.28 turnovers a game.

Bob Huggins makes a point.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        “A lot of these guys have been on a mission,” Cronin said. “They're older. They don't panic with the ball. He's very much in control of his game.”

        Lyday and Whiting have combined for 112 3-point field goals — just five fewer than Satterfield and Logan. Both shoot a higher percentage from behind the arc than either of the Bearcats.

        “We've got to guard a little bit,” Logan said. “If we've got to stop somebody else, that's what we've got to do. That's a different challenge for us. Instead of going out and thinking offense is going to win it, if we stop somebody, we can win it.”

        The Bearcats arrived in San Diego on Tuesday and practiced, but they were tired from the cross-country travel. They had a closed workout Wednesday afternoon at the University of San Diego, then an open practice at Cox Arena at San Diego State, site of tonight's game.

        “We should be well-rested now,” Logan said. “We had a lot of hours to sleep. We should be ready to go. Everybody's confident. We realize what we've got to do. This is the best part of the season.”
Online pool and college hoops coverage at

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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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