Friday, June 18, 1999

'Shootout' moves up to December


XU-UC prefer to play before league games

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The rest of the country will get to see the Crosstown Shootout again. But not during ESPN's Rivalry Week.

        The 67th showdown between Cincinnati and Xavier is scheduled for Saturday, Dec.18, at the Cincinnati Gardens, though the date won't be official until both schools release their schedules.

        The game will be shown live on ESPN. There is no time set. Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski said a noon tipoff has been discussed, adding: “That's purely speculation. They have not told me yet. That's the only time that has ever been floated out there. It has not been written or confirmed. Quite honestly, I think our folks are going to show up whenever we play that game.”

        The Shootout will come more than a month earlier than last year's Jan.28 meeting at Shoemaker Center, an 87-77 UC victory. And that's just fine with the two schools.

        “Because of the hype and the intensity of the game, it's better off that we play it before our conference season starts,” Xavier assistant coach Jeff Battle said. “You have a tendency, because of all the energy and stuff that goes into it, of not playing well the game after that. This gives us the time to play the game ... and move on to the meat of the conference season.”

        Last season's game was on a Thursday night. The following Saturday, Xavier played at Dayton at noon and Cincinnati played at home at 1p.m. against Alabama-Birmingham.

        In the 1997-98 season, the game was played Dec.13. The Musketeers routed UC 88-68. Bearcats assistant coach Rod Baker said Dec.18 is fine “as long as it doesn't end up like that one did.”

        “We have a lot of away games during that period,” Baker said. “And so I think a lot of those games, but especially the game against Xavier, will test our mettle quickly.

        “I don't know that there is a good day to play that game, because there's so much involved in getting to the tipoff. There's so much hype, there's so much pomp and circumstance, you're happy just when they throw it up and you can go play the game.”

        UC coach Bob Huggins was out of town Thursday. Xavier coach Skip Prosser was home sick.

        ESPN program manager Dave Brown made it clear that the move out of Rivalry Week had nothing to do with the UC-XU game itself and that the network was pleased with last year's battle at The Shoe.

        “Obviously the atmosphere was unbelievable,” he said. “It was a great addition to our lineup.”

        He added: “We'd love to have it during Rivalry Week, but it was tough to fit it in this year. We believe this is one of the best rivalries in the business. This year it was tough to move another non-conference game into January and February.”

        ESPN wanted the game to be Thursday night, Dec.16, as the front end of a doubleheader, but that is during Xavier's final exam week. “That just wasn't going to work,” Bobinski said. “We do not play during finals week; it's been our policy at Xavier to not do that. We'll play when it's over.”

        This will be the fifth Crosstown Shootout in December.

        Said Baker: “I watched the games during Rivalry Week last year and I thought our game was the best one. It was a back-and-forth, up-and-down, great crowd, pressure-packed game. If they want something better than that, I don't know where they're going to get it.”

       



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