Saturday, November 20, 1999

Satterfield's bravado best part of game




BY TIM SULLIVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[satterfield]
Kenny Satterfield.

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        Kenny Satterfield may not score, but he will not scare. He won't go wallflower on you when you need somebody to step up. He is a freshman with fortitude, a point guard with guts and a good reason to believe the Cincinnati Bearcats can be worthy of their No. 1 ranking.

        College basketball's preseason favorites start their season this evening against Youngstown State with as much talent as Bob Huggins has ever had at his disposal. Kenny Satterfield is not expected to start tonight's game, but he should have a lot to say about where the Bearcats finish their season.

        Satterfield figures to be the man-child running UC's offense in the Madness of March. He figures to overtake Steve Logan's experience with his explosive talent. He figures to grow up fast.

        “I don't feel any pressure at all,” Satterfield said Friday afternoon at the Shoemaker Center. “I'm just going to play my game and try not to do things that I can't do, and I'll be fine. I try not to put myself in bad situations.”

        He was sitting at courtside before Friday's practice, a Carolina-blue T-shirt peeking out from beneath his practice jersey, his face devoid of expression, his voice absent of inflection. If Satterfield was at all apprehensive about his first official college game, he kept his concerns concealed. If he hadn't opened his mouth now and then, you might feel compelled to check his pulse.

        This is the kind of player you want at crunch time — someone who is not easily intimidated by his surroundings or the stakes. Someone who will take the ball to the hole with impunity.

Brashness of a star
        Most of what you need to know about Satterfield was revealed in a single play during his sophomore year at New York's Rice High School. Facing New Jersey power St.Anthony's — then the nation's top-ranked high school team — Satterfield resisted the temptation to defer to older teammates and hit a driving shot against two defenders to force overtime. Rice won the game, ending St.Anthony's 66-game winning streak, and Satterfield subsequently became one of the country's most coveted underclassmen. He won two state titles at Rice, was named a McDonald's All-American and earned trips to Paris and Hawaii as a result of his basketball bravado.

        “He has stardom written all over him,” Dick Vitale declared.

        Satterfield's is a distinctly New York style of play — part street ball, part structure, all aggressive. Even in drills, Satterfield often dribbles the ball out in front — as if daring the defender to reach for a steal — using his body more as a statement than a shield. By virtue of its vast population and teeming playgrounds, New York always has accounted for a high percentage of top basketball talent. Its point guard production, in particular, is astonishing. Growing up in the Bronx, Kenny Satterfield's local role models included such accomplished point guards as Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, Khalid Reeves, Kenny Smith and Rod Strickland.

        Such was the backcourt depth at Rice High School that Satterfield often served as the shooting guard. In Maurice Hicks' three-guard offense, the responsibility of bringing the ball up the floor was virtually random.

        “Basically,” Satterfield said, “it was whoever got the ball.”

A whole new world
        Bob Huggins does not often leave such critical decisions to chance. His style of basketball is much more specific than Satterfield has played previously, and a whole lot louder.

        “Our coach yelled at us last year,” Satterfield said. “But nothing like this. I haven't gotten used to it yet.”

        Like most freshmen, Satterfield has experienced some pangs in adjusting to his new surroundings. For all of their campus celebrity and their ESPN exposure, college basketball players are still young kids away from home. When your home is New York City, Cincinnati can seem about as stimulating as Mayberry.

        Satterfield finds comfort in the familiarity of the basketball floor. To a skilled player, it is sanctuary. Pressure is being unprepared.

        Tim Sullivan welcomes your email at tsullivan@enquirer.com.

SPECIAL: COLLEGE BASKETBALL PREVIEW



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