Monday, March 19, 2001

Stanford is tall task for UC

Bearcats will be looking up at top-seed

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Stanford's Jarron Collins and Jason Collins block St. Joseph's 14 Jameer Nelson from the basket.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        SAN DIEGO — Just minutes after Bob Huggins knew for certain his next game would be against No. 2-ranked and top-seeded Stanford, the University of Cincinnati coach was asked whether it was a good matchup for his team.

        He half smiled.

        “No,” he said. “We're little.”

        Compared to the Cardinal.

        The Bearcats (25-9) have advanced to the West Regional semifinals, and for that they get a date with Stanford (30-2) in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 at 10:15 p.m. Thursday at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (Calif.).

        Stanford escaped with a 90-83 victory over St. Joseph's late Saturday night, a game that was tied with 1:33 left. The Cardinal made 10 of 10 free throws to win it.

        “They're really good,” Huggins said. “We'll have to play better probably than we've played all year.

        “They kind of make you pick your poison. If you don't double them inside, they score. And if we double them inside, they make 3s. We've got to be intelligent with what we do, and we have to try to get some rebounds.”

  Location: Stanford, Calif.
  Nickname: Cardinal
  Colors: Cardinal and white
  Record: 30-2, 16-2 Pacific-10 Conference
  Bid: Won regular-season league title (Pac-10 does not have tourney)
  Coach: Mike Montgomery (318-145, 15th year; 472-222, 23rd overall)
  Key players: Casey Jacobsen, 6-6, So., G; Jason Collins, 7-0, Jr., C; Jarron Collins, 6-11, Sr., F.
  Notable: Stanford is 7-0 on neutral courts and 18-0 away from its home court, Maples Pavilion
        Stanford's only losses were to UCLA (79-73, Feb. 3) and Arizona (76-75, March 8). It has been ranked No. 1 or 2 in the country since Dec. 25.

        The Cardinal, who have used the same starting lineup for all 32 games, pose a challenging inside-outside attack.

        Sophomore shooting guard Casey Jacobsen, a first-team All-American, is the leading scorer (18.0, .471 from 3-point range). Senior small forward Ryan Mendez (11 ppg) has 998 career points and leads the country in free throw shooting (.947). Se nior point guard Michael McDonald (8.1 ppg, 4.9 apg) shoots .514 from 3-point range and has the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio in Stanford history.

        But the biggest problem for UC may be the Collins twins. Jason Collins, a 7-foot junior, averages 14.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. Brother Jarron, a 6-11 senior, averages 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds.

        The two combined for 37 points and 15 rebounds against St. Joseph's. They have started 43 consecutive games together; Stanford is 41-2 in those.

        Stanford outrebounds opponents by an average of 7.7 a game.

        “They've beaten everybody on the glass,” Huggins said. “They're big and strong. They're skilled, and they're surrounded by a bunch of guys who can make shots.”

        Jacobsen said it's fair to say Stanford has a size advantage inside, but “just because we're bigger than them doesn't necessarily mean we can score any time we want.

        “Their big guys are going to take it as a challenge. They know they're mismatched, but that doesn't mean they're going to let Jason and Jarron score all night long.”

        Cardinal coach Mike Montgomery said Saturday night that he had not seen UC play this season. Some of his players claim to have caught some clips on television.

        “They play on ESPN all the time,” McDonald said. “They show their highlights — a lot of lobs, dunks and 3-pointers.”

        Stanford expects a similar game to the one it just played: Tough, physical, a perimeter-oriented opponent. St. Joseph's guards Marvin O'Connor (37) and Jameer Nelson (14) totaled 51 points.

        “I think (Cincinnati's) better probably inside,” Montgomery said. “I think Cincinnati's guys are a little bit more capable of defending without pushing. Cincinnati's always been physical. You look at them, they're built, cut, big kids, and very athletic.

        “When you're down to 16 teams, you can rest assured they're all pretty good.”

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