Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Billikens Know, in This Shoe Cincinnati Has Plenty of Sock

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Billikens Know, in This Shoe Cincinnati Has Plenty of Sock

Article excerpt

Bob Huggins and his 12 Bearcats live in the Shoe.

They know what to do. When visiting Great Midwest Conference basketball teams knock on the door of the Shoemaker Center in Cincinnati, they are met by a Bearcat backdraft.

Most teams are blown away by the fiery Cincinnati pressure defense, the heart of which is its double-team traps designed to not only strip the ball but to create mental exhaustion over a 40-minute period for the opponent.

The crowd volume in the Shoe makes it perhaps the noisiest arena in the league.

"It's a frenzy," said St. Louis University coach Charlie Spoonhour, who takes his Billikens into the Shoe tonight for the first matchup of the season of the teams.

"Everything is done in a frenzy. The players play in a frenzy. Bob Huggins coaches in a frenzy. The fans are all worked up and salivating. We remember the atmosphere there last year (in a 64-39 loss)."

Cincinnati is the Great Midwest leader in number of turnovers forced. Opponents have made 423 in 23 games. Marquette coughed up the ball 27 times on its home floor Sunday, when the Bearcats won in double overtime 61-60.

"You just don't do that on somebody's home court," Spoonhour said. "At home, either the referees protect you or the good fairy comes and bails you out."

The Bills are beginning a tough stretch that includes four games with Cincinnati and Alabama-Birmingham. Just as important, though, is the opportunity for the Bills to become acclimated for the Shoe. They'll have to return there next month for the conference tournament.

Of the Cincy pressure, Spoon said: "Most of the guys have been through it. For the new guys it is going to be quite an experience. But it is like taking medicine. It makes you better if you survive it. I'm talking about being able to maintain poise and figuring out a way to play them."

College basketball's deadliest sin offensively is standing. The Bills were guilty of this in an 82-77 loss in overtime at Dayton. Spoonhour has been preaching movement on offense and expects that his players will pay heed tonight - or pay the piper.

"If and when we get through the Cincinnati defense," Spoonhour said, "we'll be so glad we'll probably run all over the place. …

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