Originally created 03/20/01

Huggins: Forget the monkey



LOS ANGELES -- If Kansas coach Roy Williams had a monkey on his back, what about Bob Huggins?

Forget that, the Cincinnati coach said Monday, pointing out that sometimes, stuff just happens.

Williams shared the dais with a stuffed red monkey after Kansas' 87-58 victory over Syracuse on Sunday in the Midwest Regional, ending a string of three second-round NCAA losses.

"I wanted to see how (the Kansas team) would be taking the monkey off my back," Williams said.

A day earlier, Cincinnati overpowered Kent State 66-43 in the West Regional to snap a streak of four second-round losses.

"I know the extenuating circumstances, meaning Kenyon Martin breaking his leg," Huggins said by telephone from San Diego, where the Bearcats won their first two tournament games by a total of 48 points. "Roy (Williams) didn't have the best player in the country breaking his leg."

Cincinnati was ranked No. 1 in the nation late last season when Martin, the consensus player of the year, suffered his season-ending injury.

"We just haven't had a lot of luck," Huggins said. "Once in a while, you need some luck."

The Bearcats were seeded second or third in the regionals in each of the last four tournaments. They were eliminated by Tulsa 69-61 last year; their previous three second-round losses were all tightly contested games decided at or near the end.

"I'm happy for the guys, they took some criticism, some of it probably justifiably so," Huggins said of his team advancing to the third round.

The unranked Bearcats (25-9) started their Conference USA schedule by losing three of their first six games, but finished by winning seven of eight to capture their sixth straight regular-season crown.

They were beaten by North Carolina-Charlotte in the championship game of the conference tournament, but that's the last thing they're thinking about these days.

"We're hard to score against," said Huggins, whose team faces top-seeded Stanford (30-2) Thursday night at the Anaheim Arena. "Our guys have done a really good job defensively. I thought we got a good draw, I thought we matched up well with who we were going to play.

"When you get to the third round, I don't know that there are any easy draws. Stanford is very good, they've got great size, great perimeter shooting."

The Bearcats are scheduled to make the 100-mile trip from San Diego to Anaheim late Tuesday.

Third-seeded Maryland and No. 10 Georgetown, who meet in the opener of Thursday night's doubleheader, came to Southern California directly from Boise, Idaho, where they advanced to the third round, rather than making the 3,000-mile trip home to the Washington D.C., area.

However, as Georgetown sports information director Bill Shapland pointed out, there was no room at the inn.

The Hoyas and Terrapins both discovered that due to a major convention in the Anaheim area, alternate housing had to be arranged until Tuesday night.

"We're all in different hotels," Shapland said of the Hoyas. "Nobody could get into the media headquarters hotel, so we had to improvise."

In addition, Shapland said, there were no rental cars available when the Hoyas arrived Sunday night, meaning administrators and media members were left scrambling.

The winners Thursday night will play Saturday, with that winner advancing to the Final Four.