Wednesday, March 19, 2003

UC waiting for shots to fall

Outside game has been troublesome

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

At the University of Cincinnati, they fantasize about making shots the way a 6-footer dreams of being able to dunk. "We can compete with anybody if we make shots," UC coach Bob Huggins has said over and over this season.

Tony Bobbitt, the streak-shooting guard, wistfully wondered what it would be like if both he and guard Field Williams suddenly started to connect on their long-range shots in the same game.

"Field gets 20 and I get 20. That's going to be a shock," Bobbitt said.

Pardon the Bearcats for having their heads in the clouds a bit as they prepare for their first-round NCAA Tournament game. It's been a long season of watching shots bounce off rims and smack errantly off backboards. Statistically, this is the worst-shooting team Huggins has had in 14 seasons at UC.

The Bearcats shoot 40.4 percent. The next-worst squad of the Huggins era is the 1990-91 team, which shot 44.3 percent.

No. 8 seed UC (17-11) faces No. 9 seed Gonzaga at 12:40 p.m. Thursday in Salt Lake City. If the Bearcats are to advance in the tournament, well, you know by now ...

"We've got to make shots," Huggins said one more time. "We've got to free (Jason Maxiell) up so he can get some baskets in close."

The Bearcats are 14-3 when they shoot better than 40 percent, but they've done that only three times in their last seven games. They're 6-1 in games when they make more than 45 percent of their shots.

But UC averages just 67.3 points a game.

"I thought it would be better than what it has been," Huggins said of UC's shooting. "I was hoping that Field and Tony would be more consistent. We're missing point-blank open shots that we really shouldn't miss."

If Williams (34.0 percent) and Bobbitt (37.5 percent) have been disappointments, point guard Taron Barker has exceeded expectations. He's UC's best 3-point shooter at 43 percent, but he hasn't been able to compensate for the Bearcats' overall scoring deficiencies.

Huggins says he has tried everything he can think of to improve UC's shooting.

Ultimately, though, no amount of tinkering with offensive sets has been able to overcome the basic problem: These guys just can't shoot.

"It's hard to change mechanics during the season," Huggins said. "It's hard to change mechanics period, but really hard to change them during the season."

To add to the problem, UC gets very few easy baskets from offensive rebounds or in transition off its defense.

Forward Leonard Stokes believes he can improve the situation if he penetrates defenses more consistently and kicks the ball out to open teammates when the defense collapses on him.

"I've got to attack the basket and get shots for Tony and Field when they've got their feet set," Stokes said.

Then it's up to the shooters. But is there any reason to believe those same shots that have missed for most of the season suddenly will begin to fall through the basket now that the NCAA Tournament has arrived?

"I didn't have any reason to believe they'd start falling (in wins) against Oregon or Louisville or Oklahoma State," Huggins said. "But they did."


Enter our bracket contest and get complete tournament coverage

West national player of year
Xavier foe plays hurry-up
McGuff draws on Irish experience

UC waiting for shots to fall

Coles' humor intact despite Miami struggles
New coordinator, new defense for Miami

DAUGHERTY: Can war and sports coincide?
NCAA games will go on despite war
NCAA games on local TV
Hunter has IUPUI in promised land
Pitino back after 6-year absence
Prosser: Deacons need wake-up
UNC-Asheville scores first NCAA upset
Western Ky. wants to make its mark
All women's games on ESPN
NIT: Prodigal Georgetown wins opener

Infection strikes Turfway horses

Haynes to pitch opener
Ballpark open house this weekend
Graves trying to get the hang of starting
Reds Notebook: 10 more must go by Opening Day
Reds 7, Phillies 7
Other Spring Training Games
Spring Training Standings
Baseball cancels series in Japan
Baseball Notebook: McGraw undergoes surgery

NFL considers expanding playoffs

Moeller's Duncan first-team all-Ohio
Ohio boys state tournament schedule

Highlands' Neltner first team in Ky.
Faust back in Sweet 16 with senior-laden St. Henry
Rose Hill has plenty to prove at Sweet 16
NewCath girls win Ninth Region
Campbell Co. girls win 10th region

Mail This Story (Click here) Send this story to a friend.

vs. South Florida (3-4)
• 1:00 p.m. Sat. Nov. 20
• Nippert Stadium
• Radio: WLW-AM 700


Paterno Won't Coach Penn St.-Temple Game

Paterno Won't Go to Penn St.-Temple Game

Spurrier Shadow Looms Large in Florida

No. 15 Rutgers Bracing for Historic Game

Hurricanes Stunned by Teammate's Murder

Big East logo
UC joins Big East
• A special section of complete coverage, as the UC Bearcats join one of the nation's elite sports conferences.


Terps Sign Gary Williams Through 2010-11

Bob Knight Approaches Winning Milestone

Buckeyes' Oden Content to Wait for NBA

Larranaga Enjoy Spoils of Final Four Run

Hansbrough Leads AP's All-America Team

AP's Preseason All-America Team

Gators Runaway Preseason No. 1 in Poll

Gators Return Starters to Defend Title

Texas Tech's Jackson Returns to Practice

Sutton Released From Hospital in Okla.


Paris Headlines AP's All-America Team

ACC New Powerhouse in Women's Basketball

Maryland Tops AP Women's Basketball Poll