Saturday, January 11, 2003


Flowers still in mix for Bearcats

By Bill Koch and Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Question, from Dan: What has happened to UC's Rod Flowers? I thought he was supposed to compete for the center position, but I didn't even see him on the bench in the Bearcats' last game.

Answer: Flowers did have the chance to compete for the center position and still has that chance. He has decent offensive skills, probably better than either Derek Hollman's or Kareem Johnson's, but the coaches believe his defense leaves much to be desired.

Q, from Barry: What's the explanation for UC not scheduling a European trip? I think it could take one every four years. It seems teams benefit from the unity and additional practice time. Generally it appears teams perform better after the trip.

A: UC is eligible to make a trip to Europe this summer but is waiting to see if a rule is changed to allow it to compete next season in an exempt tournament such as the Preseason NIT. If not, there's a chance the Bearcats will go to Europe. The Bearcats already have played in the two exempt tournaments permitted them in a four-year span under current NCAA rules.

Q, from an unidentified reader: My friend from Cincinnati read that Kentucky ducked a chance to play UC. Bearcats coach Bob Huggins laid out a plan to have a home-road series with UK but a Kentucky official said UC does not fit with UK basketball. Is this true?

A: According to UC officials, the schools had a contract in the late 1980s to play six games. One was supposed to be in the University of Kentucky Invitational, but when UC participated in that event in the 1989-90 season, the Bearcats lost in the first round to Southwestern Louisiana and did not advance to play UK. Kentucky beat UC 75-71 at Shoemaker Center the following season. After that game, UK officials told UC the Wildcats no longer had room on their schedule for the Bearcats and therefore would not play the remaining games on the contract.

Q, from Sam: There are reports that point guard Will Bynum has left Arizona and likes UC. If so, are the Bearcats going to use their last scholarship on him?

A. If Bynum has left Arizona, it's not likely. UC plans to use its final scholarship on a big man. The Bearcats have a promising freshman point guard in Chadd Moore and next season will add junior college transfer Nick Williams, also a point guard.

Q, from Greg: Against Chattanooga, the Bearcats were able to play 10 players for at least 10 minutes each due to the effective play of Chadd Moore. With fresh bodies, do you think Huggins will use a full-court press?

A: It takes more than an abundance of fresh bodies to make the press work. More important are fresh bodies belonging to players savvy enough to make the necessary adjustments in the press. Don't look for the Bearcats to full-court press with regularity, although we have seen them doing more trapping in the halfcourt.

Q, from John in Cincinnati: What is the attitude concerning Xavier's David West? Does coach Thad Matta have control over the team, or does West act as a clubhouse lawyer?

A: Matta showed his control when he dismissed Dave Young for basically bringing down the team by complaining about playing time. Matta wasn't going to put up with Young's negative attitude on or off the court. That said, he does not have as much control over West as he would other players, simply because West is an All-American and Matta wants him to have some autonomy and to act like a coach at times. West lately has shown that, when given too much freedom, he can express himself in ways that are detrimental to the team. Now might be a good time for Matta to send a message that he needs West to get himself under control, and nothing works better than a little bench time.

Q, from Sam: What does Xavier have to do to get a good NCAA Tournament seed? Will winning the Atlantic 10 Conference be enough to get better than a No. 7 seed?

A: If the Musketeers finish the A-10 strong (with no more than two losses) and win the conference tournament, Xavier can expect a No. 5 seed. The A-10 is stronger this season and will get two or three teams into the NCAA Tournament. Xavier probably missed a chance at a No. 2, 3 or 4 seed by not making the Preseason NIT semifinals and by losing to Mississippi State on a neutral court.

Koch covers UC and Dow XU for the Enquirer. E-mail

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