Friday, October 18, 2002

UC's Bobbitt character, competitor

Junior guard brings laughs - and shooting touch - to Bearcats

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The University of Cincinnati basketball players are running wind sprints. Twenty-two times, they have to race up and down the court. They have just finished No. 20. Some players are on the ground and some are bent over. One is draped across the back of the basketball goal.

        Junior guard Tony Bobbitt starts dancing around. He's hootin' and hollerin' and calling out Eugene Land's name, trying to motivate his teammate for the final sprints.

        Though exhausted, the Bearcats players look up and, one by one, either crack a smile or start to laugh.

        That's a typical reaction at the mere mention of Bobbitt's name.

        Senior Leonard Stokes: "That dude's got an Energizer battery in his back.

        Freshman Chadd Moore: "He's a live wire from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to sleep. He can't sit still."

        "Senior Taron Barker: "You could be having a bad day and he'll just come in and light up the room for you."

        Barker should know. He and Bobbitt shared an apartment over the summer. Barker said some mornings, at 7 o'clock, Bobbitt would turn on music and start jumping around.

        "He is non-stop," Barker said.

        Why not? Bobbitt says he's living a dream, playing Division I basketball for UC coach Bob Huggins.Bobbitt said he prays each night for another day. He wakes up in a good mood and stays that way throughout the Bearcats' three- and four-hour practices.

        Bobbitt views his coaches, teammates and support staff as family.

        "I can't come out here and mope and groan and complain," he said. "If they tell me to jump off a bridge - it must be for a purpose. It can't be a bad thing. If I jump off a bridge, I know somebody's going to catch me."

        Bobbitt brings personality to this Bearcats team. He brings a love for the game and a burning desire to succeed as a team and individually.

        Bobbitt comes in with the reputation as a great shooter. But when first asked about him over the summer, the first thing Stokes said was: "He can pass the ball.

        "He's got a knowledge of the game. He'll take the shot that's open, but if somebody else is open, he's not going to force it.

        "He's the type of person who isn't going to worry about if he's got 10 or 15 points at the end of the game, as long as we've got a victory. Those are the types of guys you want to play with."

        The 6-foot-4 Bobbitt averaged 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists last season at the College of Southern Idaho. He led his conference in average 3-pointers per game (3.4) and was third in free-throw shooting percentage (.818).

        Bobbitt is competing with junior Field Williams to start at shooting guard.

        "Every day, he comes out and gives you an honest effort," UC assistant coach Andy Kennedy said. "I don't think you can ever have enough guys who have a passion for the game of basketball."

        Bobbitt, who turns 23 Tuesday, sees it as a sign that he has the locker previously used by national player of the year Kenyon Martin.He looks at the wall in Shoemaker Center that lists Bearcats who have been selected All-America.

        "I want my name up there," Bobbitt said. "Got to have it up there. I have never been anywhere and not been All-American."

        And if he keeps his teammates smiling in the process, well, then all the better.

        "You could be having a bad day, and you see Tony 'Baloney' and you already know it's over because he's going to say something stupid or do something to make you laugh," Moore said. "Just him in the locker room cracking on everybody. You about laugh so hard, it'll make your stomach hurt. You need that kind of guy around. He keeps us going."


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