Sunday, March 14, 2004

Defense is star of tournament championship

UC notebook

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Earlier in the season, University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins called this team one of the worst defensive teams he has had at UC.

He's not saying that anymore.

photo gallery
Photos of Saturday's game
The Bearcats, who held DePaul on Saturday to 35.3 percent shooting and 50 points, 22 below its average, played some of their best defense in their three Conference USA Tournament games.

They held Louisville, Saint Louis and DePaul to a combined 32.9 percent shooting. None of the three teams shot more than 36 percent.

"We're a whole lot better," Huggins said. "You ought to be at this time of the year. You've seen everything. At the end of the semester you ought to be a little smarter about your chosen profession than you were at the beginning of the semester. That's kind of where we are.

"We had a lot of guys that didn't understand the language, the terminology. We don't play just one way. We play a lot of different ways."

WHO ME? DePaul's LeVar Seals, who was ejected in the second half for punching UC's Tony Bobbitt in the groin, denied after the game that he punched Bobbitt.

"We just ran into each other," Seals said.

When told that some UC fans were joking that Bobbitt put on a good job acting job as he lay on the floor, Seals agreed.

"To me, he was faking it," Seals said.

Because he was ejected for fighting, under NCAA rules, Seals must sit out DePaul's first game in the NCAA Tournament.

MOVING UP: With two blocked shots, UC's Jason Maxiell moved into second place on UC's career list with 154. He trails only Kenyon Martin, who blocked 292.

Field Williams scored seven points and needs five more to become the 42nd UC player to score 1,000 in his career. Maxiell passed the 1,000-point mark last Saturday against Memphis.

TOURNAMENT TESTED: UC has won four of the nine Conference USA tournaments. The Bearcats also won all four of the Great Midwest Conference tournaments, giving them eight conference tournament titles in Huggins' 15 years as head coach.

SELECTION SUNDAY: UC will combine the announcement about where it will go in the NCAA Tournament with an awards ceremony today at Fifth Third Arena.

Doors open at 3 p.m. with photo opportunities, but no autographs, with the players from 3:45-4:45.

The awards ceremony will run from 5-5:45, with the NCAA Selection Show scheduled to begin at 6.

Admission is free and concession stands will serve $1 soft drinks and hot dogs.

C-USA tournament

At U.S. Bank Arena


Championship game

UC 55, DePaul 50


Top performers

• Tony Bobbitt, UC: Scored 17 points with five rebounds and made two key shots in the closing minutes to seal the win.

• Eric Hicks, UC: Scored 10 points with nine rebounds off the bench and ended UC's scoring drought at the beginning of the second half with a dunk off a missed shot.

• Delonte Holland, DePaul: Scored 17 points with seven rebounds.


"We just ran into each other."

DePaul's LeVar Seals, denying that he hit Tony Bobbitt, even though he was ejected from the game for throwing a punch.


Francisco Garcia, Louisville

Delonte Holland, DePaul

Quemont Greer, DePaul

Jason Maxiell, UC

Tony Bobbitt, UC

Most Valuable Player: Tony Bobbitt, UC


UC made its fifth championship game appearance in the nine-year history of the Conference USA Tournament. The Bearcats' title was the 10th conference tournament title in the school's history (four in C-USA, four in the Great Midwest, two in the Metro). . . . UC has won 12 straight games in conference tournaments played in Cincinnati. . . . When DePaul's Drake Diener missed two of five free throws, it was the first time in his career he had missed multiple free throws in one game. . . . The combined total of 105 points tied the lowest championship game scoring total of 105, matched by DePaul and Saint Louis in the 2000 title game, won by Saint Louis, 56-49. . . . DePaul, the league's top rebounding team, was outrebounded by UC 37-26. . . . The six-game DePaul winning streak that ended Saturday was the Blue Demons' longest since 1995.



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