Sunday, March 24, 2002

UC's Stokes waits, worries

'Huggins watch' starting to take toll on players

By Michael Perry,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Leonard Stokes was trying to stay away from all the media reports.

        Then he got a call from a cousin in Buffalo on Friday afternoon telling him about a story on CBS saying coach Bob Huggins was leaving Cincinnati to accept the West Virginia job.

        “That was the only time I really got worried,” said Stokes, who has played for Huggins for three years and will be a senior next season.

        “I told (my cousin) he was lying. He said it was on the Internet. I called Huggs (and left a message). I called coach (Dan Peters), and he called back and said it was a rumor. I'm still confident that he's not going anywhere.”

        Stokes, who started all 35 games and was UC's No.2 scorer this past season (12.7 ppg), has been in Cincinnati all week even though UC is on spring break.

        He said he has left a couple messages on Huggins' cell phone but didn't want “to bug him too much.”

        “I want to call him before he makes his decision just to let him know where the team's coming from and where I'm coming from,” Stokes said. “I came here to play for Coach. I'm hoping he doesn't go anywhere.”

        Stokes said there is no scheduled team meeting for Monday that he was aware of, other than to discuss spring weightlifting and individual workouts.

        Junior forward Jimmy Hubbard left Cincinnati for the week but said he was frequently checking on his cell phone looking for reports on Huggins.

        “It's hard not to worry about it,” Hubbard said. “Of course I'm concerned. ... It's out of my powers. All I can do is sit back and wait for his decision. I hope to God he doesn't go. That'd be terrible if he did.”


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