Saturday, January 19, 2002

Basketball Q&A with Perry and Schmidt

Schedule strength worries UC fans

By Michael Perry and Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The mail box was full this week. Thanks. We'll hit as many as we can and continue with more next week. Let's get to it.

        Q: from Kevin in Cincinnati: I appreciate the amount of attention UC is receiving. However, they have a weak schedule and to compare them to the '92 team defensively is not a compliment. Besides, teams with good defense but lackluster offense never win the tournament. It's always a team with great point and shooting guards.

        A: Hmmm. Was that a question? Is this what you meant to ask ...

        Q: from Stew: It's nice to see UC getting wins. But I and many others think this is the weakest schedule that UC has played in years. Conference USA doesn't have another Top25 team and is rated No.10 by the RPI. Won't this hurt them?

        A: Guess nobody's going to know for sure how much the schedule matters until the conclusion of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. And, truthfully, it probably will have nothing to do with what happens to UC in the postseason. There are so many other factors. It's unlikely the Bearcats would win or lose in the NCAA because of whom they did or didn't play in December.

        Q: from Tom: Why can't (coach Bob) Huggins and (Athletic Director Bob) Goin understand the numerous reasons why Shoemaker is not selling out? For a yearly investment of around $1,650, I get two tickets for high school-like plastic seats up in the rafters. I also get to watch UC beat up some non-conference cupcakes. If you look at this year's home schedule, there are maybe five, six games worth attending.

        A: Maybe we should change the name of this column to “Sound-off with the fans.” Is there an actual question in the house?

        Q: from Josh: What does it mean if a team holds opposing teams to eight assists per game? ESPN lists these statistics on its site, and UC happens to average eight (it's actually 8.4). The next closest team has 9.4. I look at this as an achievement of their defense, but I would like a professional opinion.

A: So, you're asking us? Of course, this is a reflection of UC's defense, most notably its field goal percentage defense and scoring defense. Obviously, if the opponents don't make shots and don't score, they can't build up assist totals.

        Q: from Chuck in Lewis Center: Can this year's UC men's basketball team effectively run a full-court press? The ability to press throughout the game was critical in the Final Four team's success; is this year's team capable?

        A: This team may press in short stretches just to show a different look but won't do it too much. Why? For starters, UC is one of the best halfcourt defensive teams in the country. Also, the roster is not as deep and you don't want to tire out the starters without numerous reserves waiting to take their place.

        Q: from Neil in Clifton: It seems like the last couple of seasons, UC has had the very real opportunity to win out the remainder of its games with the vast majority of the schedule remaining. This season, despite opponents like Louisville and Memphis remaining on the docket, it would appear the Bearcats have another chance at winning out the regular season (noting that Leonard Stokes and Immanuel McElroy are finding their games to compliment Steve Logan's play), so what do you think?

        A: Uh, no. UC will not go undefeated the rest of the way. Can't give you a good reason why, it's just unlikely to happen. Even though the Bearcats may be better than Charlotte, Marquette, Saint Louis, South Florida and Louisville, winning in all those opposing arenas will not be easy. Neither will winning at Wake Forest, coached by Skip Prosser.

        Q: from John in Lemont, Ill.: I am a 1962 Xavier grad. Since joining the A-10, Xavier no longer plays in the Chicago area. Since there is a large Chicago-area alumni group and Xavier drew well here when playing Loyola in the old MCC, are there any plans to schedule Loyola, DePaul, Illinois-Chicago or Northwestern?

        A: Here's assistant coach John Groce, who oversees scheduling:

        “We've notified some of those schools that we'd like to play them. We would like to get back to the Chicago area because it's a prominent alumni base of ours.

        “In general, people view Xavier differently than in the past (read: more dangerous) and aren't as willing to play us home-and-home. But it's something we'd like to do.”

        XU would more likely want to play DePaul or Northwestern, or Illinois, than take a step down to play Loyola or UIC.

        Q: from Valerie in Cincinnati: Are Brian Grant & Tyrone Hill the only XU alumni that made it to the NBA?

        A: Nope. In fact, they're just two of five XU products currently making NBA money: Grant (Miami), Hill (Cleveland), James Posey (Denver), Aaron Williams (New Jersey) and Derek Strong (L.A. Clippers). Strong was cut by the Clippers but had a guaranteed contract, so he's still getting paid.

        Other XU products to have played in the NBA: Michael Hawkins (Boston, Sacramento, Cleveland, 1996-2001), Stan Kimbrough (Detroit, Sacramento; 1989-93), Malcolm McMullen (Indianapolis, 1949-51), Dave Piontek (Rochester, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago; 1956-63), Bob Quick (Baltimore, Denver; 1968-72), Luther Rackley (Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York Knicks, Philadelphia; 1969-74) and Larry Sykes (Boston, 1995-96).


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