Thursday, March 14, 2002

Logan puts brash in Bearcats


All-American predicted great season and back it up

By Michael Perry mperry@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This is Steve Logan talking within an hour of last season ending: “Top 25? We should be Top 5, Top 10 next year.”

        This is Steve Logan in October, after the University of Cincinnati knew it would start the college basketball season without two starters from last year (Kenny Satterfield and B.J. Grove): “I'm still on a mission, and that's to win it all. That's what I came to college for, and I don't want to settle for anything less.”

        The senior guard from Cleveland means more to the Bearcats than points, assists, 3-pointers and big shots (and there are plenty of each). He brings an intangible that is equally as important and is one reason he may be the most indispensable player on any of the top teams in the country.

        Quite simply, Logan has a dream-big attitude and the confidence to go with it.

        Months before UC was even ranked, Logan was talking NCAA title. And he hasn't stopped.

        “I play this game like everybody else in this country,” he said. “What makes somebody feel they're better than me because they've got a different uniform on?

        “Ranking or no ranking, I've been playing this game a long time. I'm just not going to lay down and let anybody beat us. I'm trying to win it all. I'm a winner. That's the bottom line. I go out there and play as hard as anybody. I'm just going to keep leading my team.”

        Which begs the question: Can Logan put the Bearcats on his back and carry them to the Final Four?

        “Why not?” Logan said. “It's the perfect time to do that, to go out there and play the best basketball I can play. I've got a lot left in the tank. I don't ever want to lose a game. I want to just leave it all out there on the court if I have to.”

        Logan has helped serve as the identity for this UC team. He's tough, aggressive. He has worked hard to improve his moves, his jump shot, his leadership.

        He is expressive, not only with words but with his glare — which can be directed at a teammate who has been in the wrong place on an offensive play or who has missed a defensive assignment. He has been encouraging when teammates are in shooting slumps. He has been Bob Huggins' coach on the floor.

        Then there is the other side, which equally shows his value as a leader.

        In UC's 74-71 loss at Louisville on Feb. 27, Logan picked up his second personal foul — on a technical — and went to the bench for the final 12:12 of the first half. Instead of cheering on his teammates who were helping the Bearcats to a 38-34 halftime lead, he sat on the sideline looking miserable and uninvolved.

        He never got in sync and finished with 18 points on just 7-of-22 shooting. Worse, he did not pick up himself or his teammates from an enthusiasm standpoint during a time of adversity.

        Logan will need to do better than that during the NCAA Tournament. He will need to stay positive for himself and the rest of the Bearcats until the final buzzer of the final game. He can't let a referee's call throw him off.

        More than anything, he has to get his jump shot back in order. Logan has been very effective driving to the basket and shooting from midrange, but he is just 9-of-38 (.237) on 3-point attempts over the last seven games. Still, he has not been forcing shots. He has been patient and willing to get teammates the ball.

        “I don't think I can struggle like I did these past games,” Logan said. “I've got to make shots when I'm open and make plays.”

        Huggins says he doesn't think Logan will have to carry the Bearcats. The UC coach has said many times that he never knows who else is going to help on the offensive end, but someone always does.

        Logan helps there, too. Because of the attention on him, other UC perimeter players may be more likely to get open looks at the basket, and the inside players know the focus is always on stopping Logan.

        “These other guys are playing really well,” Huggins said. “He just has to be Lo, just do what he's been doing. If they listen and if we keep guarding and we rebound the ball, we're going to have a chance against anybody.”

        Said junior center Donald Little: “I think everybody's got to improve more than Logan. Players like myself, I've got to step up and keep playing hard, defending, make some free throws. I can be a difference now. Leonard (Stokes) has been taking the ball to the basket. (Immanuel) McElroy's been playing well. It's all about me, (Jason) Maxiell and JD (Jamaal Davis), we've got to play well.”

        For Logan, McElroy and Davis, who all hope to continue their basketball playing careers on some level, this tournament can only help to showcase their talents.

        NBA scouts have been watching Logan, especially, for two years and have seen him so often in person and on television that another handful of games isn't going to make or break his chances to get to The League.

        However, if he plays some of his best ball and helps lead the Bearcats to the Final Four, Logan may be able to skip some of the predraft activities and allow the NCAA Tournament to be an exclamation mark on his basketball resume.

        He already has posted career-best totals this season in scoring (22.0 ppg), rebounding (3.0), assists (5.2) and field-goal shooting (.455). Logan has scored 30 or more five times this season, including 40 (Mississippi State) and 41 (Southern Mississippi).

        “If I have to score 30 one night to win a national championship, that's what I've got to do,” Logan said. “I'm just going to take what the defense gives. I just want to win.”

       



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