Monday, November 12, 2001

UC has work to do in final exhibition

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It was just one game, an exhibition at that. And it was a 28-point victory that doesn't even count. Still, University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins is hoping his players aren't waiting for a loss before they play better.

        “I've always said you have to be really dumb to have to lose to learn,” Huggins said Sunday, a day after the Bearcats' 81-53 victory over Northern Kentucky. “Everybody says, "Well, you need a loss because that really gets their focus.' Then you've really got a dumb team, if that's what it takes. Or awfully dumb coaches.”

        The Bearcats play host to Kentucky Wesleyan College tonight at Shoemaker Center in their final dress rehearsal for the regular season.

        They open Friday night at No.18 Oklahoma State.

        Despite an easy victory over NKU, UC didn't look especially sharp, especially in rebounding — the biggest weakness of last year's team. Huggins wasn't too pleased overall.

        “Our attention to detail is not near what it needs to be,” he said. “We just don't have a big margin for error, so our attention to detail has to be so much better.”

        KWC is the defending Division II NCAA champion and preseason No.1-ranked team. It went 31-3 last season and has lost only 11 games total over the past four years.

        The Panthers have won eight NCAA titles, including two in the last three years. They have played in the national championship game four consecutive years.

        Four of their top six scorers and rebounders are back.

        “They always just retool,” Northern Kentucky coach Ken Shields said. “They'll be deeper than us and have some bigger, physical, more athletic guys. It should be a closer game. I would be surprised if it's not.”


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