Friday, March 23, 2001
Hard work wasn't enough
ANAHEIM, Calif. There comes a time when hard work isn't enough, when smart game plans can't overcome a smart opponent, when character is an accessory every team has. When nothing matters so much as how many good players you have.
Give the Cincinnati Bearcats their due. Their sweat-ethic came up large against Stanford Thursday. They flew around like they'd never play again. But they were pushing boulders uphill all night. It wasn't like shooting BBs at a battleship. But boy, did it seem that way.
The Bearcats didn't have enough good players to beat the Cardinal. They lost 78-65.
Sometime soon, coach Bob Huggins and his assistants will hit the road,
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looking for players who can score down low and defend the post. If they find a few, next year looks as bright as a summer morning.
Not that that helps now. But the fact is, by the time you reach the Sweet 16, emotion doesn't win games. The jokers are out of the deck. Hampton will not be playing for the national championship.
Stanford beat UC because it had two players who dominated the inside and another who handled the outside. Swingman Casey Jacobsen sliced the Bearcats up early, scoring 17 of the Cardinal's first 43 points. The Collins brothers, 7-foot Jason and 6-11 Jarron, diced them late.
In between, they got a little more from Ryan Mendez. It was enough to overcome the breathtaking show of Kenny Satterfield. UC's sophomore point guard could not be handled. Satterfield's jetstream first step accounted for 24 points and six assists.
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With 2:15 left in the first half, Satterfield stole an inbounds pass and fed Immanuel McElroy for an alley-oop dunk that had even the partisan Cardinal crowd oohing. That was UC's first lead, 31-29.
The Bearcats delivered the message with that one. They took an on-paper mismatch and made it a game of wills.
We are here. We are going to play you 40 minutes. We aren't going away. What are you going to do about it?
Stanford offered an 11-2 run to begin the second half. The Cardinal plan was obvious enough: Find the Collins brothers. Force-feed them the ball. Hope they do damage. We ran the same play about every third time down court, Jason Collins said. They had trouble stopping it.
This was where the game offered the impression of men against boys. Once, Jason Collins got the ball 10 feet from the basket, was immediately double-teamed, then passed underneath to Jarron Collins. Rather than permit the layup, Steve Logan grabbed Jarron by both arms.
But games are not decided by impressions.
UC hung around, a Satterfield running jumper here, a jumper by Leonard Stokes there. With four minutes to go, UC remained within shock-the-world distance, 72-63. It was like watching Custer win at Little Big Horn.
But then Jacobsen canned a 10-footer from the baseline, and Huggins had to call a 30-second timeout. The season was leaking away.
But ultimately, it was a year to hang on the wall. Should Satterfield stay another season and not follow the pro dream, should a post man be convinced to come to Clifton, maybe the music will be sweeter next year. It's hollow now, though. No more games to play.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/daugherty.
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