Bearcats offer 'measuring stick'

By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 9, 1996

Adam F. Jarrold
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona head coach Lute Olson illustrates the finer points of the game to ASU head coach Bill Frieder before their game Jan. 10. Olson is one victory shy of 500 wins.


The NCAA Tournament doesn't start for another month, but the UA men's basketball team will get a little taste of March on Sunday when they face No. 5 Cincinnati.

The game will be held at Phoenix's Veterans Memorial Coliseum as part of the 7-Up ShootOut at 1:45 p.m. Arizona State plays North Carolina State at 11:30 a.m.

"It's a tournament-type game against a tournament-type team," UA point guard Reggie Geary said. "It will be good for both of us."

The Bearcats (17-1) have been a steamroller for most of the season, with their lone loss coming in a 70-68 decision at Alabama-Birmingham three weeks ago. Along the way, UC has beaten two Pacific 10 Conference teams, Cal (77-70) and Southern Cal (85-53).

Not only are the Bearcats winning, but they are winning impressively. Cincinnati has the nation's third-largest margin of victory at 20.9 points.

"It's a measuring stick. We know how good Cincinnati is, but are we in the same ballpark? I don't know. But by the time we finish on Sunday we will know," UA head coach Lute Olson said.

The task for the No. 16 Wildcats (17-4 overall, 7-3 in the Pac-10) will be to contain sophomore Danny Fortson, a 6-foot-7, 260 pound forward who averages just under a double-double with 21.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He is a 57.7 percent shooter and has exploded a few times this season, going for 34 points and 15 rebounds against Southern Mississippi and 40 and 17 versus Xavier. He's a big reason why the Bearcats out-rebound teams by a 42.6-34.0 average.

In his last 11 games Fortson has averaged 25.1 points and 11.4 rebounds.

"If there's a better rebounder in the country on the collegiate level, I don't know who he is," Olson said.

But Cincinnati begins and ends with their famed pressure defense. The Bearcats force an average of 18.2 turnovers a game, make 9.5 steals and force opponents into 37.7 percent shooting. From the 3-point line, teams shoot just 26.7 percent.

"They do it on defense. They force you into a lot of mistakes, they hit the boards as well as any team in America," Olson said. "If you can handle their defense I think you've got a shot."

The Bearcats also present a problem in the middle for Arizona. Fortson is joined in the paint by 6-9, 250-pound center Art Long. UA's 255-pound Ben Davis is the only player who has the bulk to match up inside with either Fortson or Long. 6-7 Corey Williams and 6-10 A.J. Bramlett, who have received the bulk of the time at the other post position for Arizona, both tip the scales at 210 pounds.

Davis has recorded seven double-doubles in his last 10 outings and leads the team in scoring (14.3) and rebounding (9.1).