Friday, November 26, 1999
No. 1 Cincinnati
opens Hilo tourney
The Bearcats will get a goodBy Jim O'Connell
look at their young backcourt in
the three-day Big Island
Invitational, which starts today
HILO, Hawaii -- The last time Cincinnati was ranked No. 1, its current perimeter players were young enough to be playing high school junior varsity. That was only three years ago.
The Bearcats are very experienced up front with center Kenyon Martin, a two-time Conference USA defensive player of the year, and forwards Pete Mickeal and Jermaine Tate, all seniors.
The backcourt has one sophomore -- starting point guard Steve Logan -- and three freshmen -- starter DeMarr Johnson along with Kenny Satterfield and Leonard Stokes.
They'll all get to play their second game as a top-ranked team today against Cleveland State in the opening round of the Big Island Invitational. The young guys did pretty well in the season-opening 94-68 win over Youngstown State.
The 6-foot-9 Johnson had 18 points, Logan had 15 and seven assists, Satterfield had 14 and three assists and Stokes added five points and two assists.
"We played well at times in our opener and not so well at other times," Bearcats coach Bob Huggins said yesterday. "Our front line carries us."
The eight-team tournament should be a chance for the backcourt to show Huggins how it can help with the load.
"Playing three games in three days is good," he said. "Young guys don't understand what that's about yet."
The other game in Cincinnati's bracket has Rhode Island facing Santa Clara. The other side has Arkansas against Mercer and Iowa State against Hawaii-Hilo, the Division II host school.
Rhode Island and Arkansas have inexperience in common with Cincinnati.
The Rams lost four starters from last year's NCAA tournament team, including star guard Lamar Odom.
"It's a whole different team," said Jerry DeGregorio, himself a rookie as Rams coach. "This is a rebuilding phase."
One of the most heralded players on the roster is Zach Marbury, the younger brother of Stephon Marbury of the New Jersey Nets.
"They look alike, that's it," DeGregorio said when asked to compare the two. "Zach has to be himself. Stephon's a freak of nature. Zach can be a good Atlantic 10 player."
Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson also has a roster filled with inexperience as six players are gone from last season's NCAA tournament team -- three to graduation, three as transfers.
"This is the youngest team I've ever had, not at Arkansas, ever," Richardson said. "I've never been a believer in rebuilding, I always thought of reloading. This year, I'm rebuilding."