Tuesday, December 10, 2002

UC-XU handshake tiff ends

Stokes clarifies his comments

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It turns out that some Xavier basketball players did shake hands with University of Cincinnati players after the Crosstown Shootout on Saturday.

After XU's 50-44 win over UC, Bearcats senior Leonard Stokes complained that Musketeers players didn't shake hands with Cincinnati players.

But Monday, Stokes said that both Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato shook his hand. UC guard Taron Barker also confirmed that at least three XU players shook hands with him after the game.

In the post-game press conference, Stokes said that the Musketeers' refusal to shake hands was "the thing that hurt the worst about losing this game."

UC freshman Armein Kirkland also said he was disturbed that the Musketeers didn't shake hands.

When asked about Stokes' comments, XU senior David West said he and his teammates meant no disrespect toward UC, they were just too busy celebrating a big win.

Neither Chalmers nor Sato, both of whom attended the post-game press conference, spoke up to say that they had indeed shaken hands with UC players.

On Monday, Stokes clarified his comments, saying they stemmed from before the game, when the two teams lined up for the national anthem, then walked to mid-court to shake hands.

Several XU players, he said, headed directly for the locker room without shaking hands.

"I wasn't complaining about after the game," Stokes said. "It was a big win for them. They were celebrating like they were supposed to."

The Musketeers improved three spots and were ranked No. 13 in the new Associated Press poll, released Monday. Cincinnati, which received the 31st-most votes last week, was down to No. 41 with just 10 voting points.

Kentucky went to No. 12 from 18th in the men's poll. UC's women remained No. 25.

E-mail bkoch@enquirer.com

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