Saturday, March 24, 2001

UC's mission: Get stronger


Beacats will be veteran team next season

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANAHEIM, Calif. — Its season-ending defeat showed the University of Cincinnati exactly what it needs to do before next season.

        “We have to get stronger as a team,” power forward Jamaal Davis said after Stanford and its big bodies beat the Bearcats 78-65 Thursday night at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim in the NCAA Tournament's West Regional semifinals.

        Bearcats coach Bob Huggins sent this message to his players right after the game: Work hard or be gone.

        He won't tolerate players coming in next fall ill-prepared, out of shape, physically weak.

        Though this team pro gressed throughout the season, it was the first Huggins team to get outrebounded. He does not want that to happen again.

        There will be no talk of inexperience and youth. As of today, UC will return intact, with a couple additions.

        There were no seniors this season, but there will be five next season: Steve Logan, Immanuel McElroy, Davis, Antwan Jones and walk-on Rodney Crawford.

        There also will be five juniors: Kenny Satterfield,

        Donald Little, B.J. Grove, Leonard Stokes and newcomer Jimmy Hubbard.

        “Top 25? We should be Top 5, Top 10 next year,” Logan said.

        The Sweet 16 appearance this season will create great expectations next fall.

        “If it does, I know we can stand up to it,” Satterfield said. “We put a lot of pressure ourselves.”

        Of course, there are questions to be answered in the upcoming months. Such as:

        • Will Satterfield return? He declared himself eligible for the NBA draft last year before changing his mind. He was third-team All-Conference USA this season as a sophomore.

        Several NBA scouts have told The Enquirer he should stay, at least another year. If he does, Logan and Satterfield could make up one of the nation's better and more experienced backcourts. Satterfield, who could become UC's all-time assist leader next season, said he does not know what he's going to do yet.

        “I think he'll come back,” Logan said. “He's a smart enough kid to realize that the money in the NBA is always going to be there. He's not worried about that. He's just trying to win a national championship on this level.”

        • Will anyone else leave or be asked to leave? Jones was unhappy and talked of transfering in January. Expect Huggins to have blunt talks with some players about their commitment to improving.

        “They're going to do that or go, one or the other,” Huggins said. “The great thing about this program is we've always had kids that worked, and they wanted to work. This is the weakest team we've ever had for a lot of reasons, some of them not their fault, but some of it is their fault. That's got to change. They've got to put the time in.”

        • What about the newcomers? Jason Maxiell, who signed in November, still needs the necessary test score to be eligible next season. Hubbard is expected to sign this spring.

        The Bearcats have continued mostly to recruit guys with size. At or near the top of their wish list: 7-foot Moustapha Diagne from Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, and 6-10 Derek Hollman from Panola College in Carthage, Texas. Coaches for both have said the players are expected to visit UC.

        • What about Huggins? The Bearcats coach, who just finished his 12th year, turned down an offer from the Los Angeles Clippers last offseason. Will the NBA come after him again?

        This season, UC played in 21 games decided by 10 or fewer points and finished 25-10, losing more games than it had in six years. All the experience should pay off next season.

        “Next year, there will be no excuses,” Satterfield said.

Complete tournament coverage at Cincinnati.com



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