Sunday, September 29, 2002

Huggins' friends, colleagues stunned

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Skip Prosser, Bob Huggins' friend and former coaching rival at Xavier University, was watching the Penn State-Iowa football game on TV Saturday when he saw the news about Huggins' heart attack come across the bottom of the screen.

        “The first time I heard it, I didn't believe it,” said Prosser, now coach at Wake Forest. “I'm stunned, shocked, just praying for him and his family. I consider him a friend.”

        ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale was equally stunned.

        “I was just totally blown away,” said Vitale, a former college and NBA coach. “You would think of this as a relaxing time (of the year). He puts his body through so much. He's such a competitive person; it's amazing a body can take that (stress). We should say a prayer for him.”

        “Whenever somebody that's close to you in a working situation and also a personal situation has an emergency such as this, you have a feeling of shock and concern,” said Tom Hathaway, UC assistant athletic director for media relations. “But coach is a fighter. I'm confident he's going to battle back the best way he can because of his competitive nature.”

        Zac Teeter, a UC freshman, learned about Huggins' condition from a reporter.

        “I didn't think anything like that would ever happen,” said the 18-year-old from Kenwood. “He always seemed all right when I watched him on TV.”

        The news also shocked Meg Mueller, a 19-year-old freshman from Greenhills.

        “I wouldn't have guessed it,” she said. “He's a big part of the university.”

        Huggins, whose UC basketball teams have a .744 winning percentage, is the second-winningest active head coach in Division I, behind Kansas' Roy Williams (.807).

        Huggins' record at UC is 332-100, having directed UC to postseason play in each of his 13 seasons.

        UC went 31-4 last season, but lost to UCLA, 105-101, in double overtime in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

        Huggins became nationally prominent after leading the Bearcats to the 1992 Final Four by using a tenacious full-court press. He has turned down offers from two NBA teams - the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers - and an offer in March to coach his alma mater West Virginia.



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