By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The estimated crowd of 9,500 that showed up at Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center Friday night for the University of Cincinnati's Midnight Madness was entertained by the slam dunk contest. But what really seemed to excite fans were a few words from UC coach Bob Huggins.
Huggins promised that the Bearcats would get back to playing the way they used to - by running and trapping and pressing.
That was music to the ears of Bearcat fans who have been waiting for a return to the up-tempo style that characterized the program in the early '90s.
Eric Hicks won the dunk contest, claiming supremacy with a dunk he executed after jumping over four UC fans.
Florida transfer James White drew the most enthusiastic cheers but failed in three attempts to execute a between-the-legs dunk taking off from the foul line.
Former UC player Melvin Levett, still the most accomplished and entertaining dunker in recent UC history, emceed the contest.
In fact, fans chanted for Levett to join the competition.
Levett was as eager as the UC fans to see White. He stood along the sideline before the competition began, holding a disposable camera to record White's between-the-legs dunk attempt.
So does Levett think White is a better dunker than he is?
"I'll never say somebody's better than me," Levett said. "But it's great to see somebody who can do some of the things that he can do."
HUGGINS ADDRESS: Huggins gave what was described in one media report as a passionate address to his fellow coaches last week at the mandatory coaches' meeting in Chicago. The meeting was called to discuss recent problems that have cast college basketball coaches in a bad light.
"I think if you want to change, you change from within," Huggins said Saturday. "Some of the things rule-wise that have happened to us we deserve, because guys didn't follow the spirit of the rule and looked for advantage to themselves.
"Now, having said that, I don't think we have any more problems than college football coaches have or athletic directors or presidents have. We're not the lone ranger out here."
MOORE UPDATE: Sophomore point guard Chadd Moore, still bothered by back spasms, did not take part in Midnight Madness. He did not practice Saturday.
"He's responding to the treatment a little better than I thought he would," said Dr. Angelo Colosimo, UC's team orthopedic surgeon. "He should be fine. We're just taking it day by day."
RECRUITS IMPRESSED: Vincent Banks, the Atlanta guard who committed to UC in August, viewed the campus for the first time Friday night.
He said he will sign his letter-of-intent during the early signing period that begins Nov. 12.
Emmanuel Willis, a forward from Hargrave Military Academy, is just beginning his official visits. His father, Wallace, said he won't sign until next spring.
Willis still plans to visit Southern California, Virginia and maybe South Carolina.
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