Q. No conversation about Bearcat basketball can begin without first addressing the absence of Bob Huggins and the impact it may have on the UC program. Have you noticed a difference?
A. "I've watched two of UC's recent games in preparing for Tuesday‘s game with Dayton, and they (UC) are not as good defensively as in the past. I think this is probably due to a shift in practice from defense to having a balanced offense. That change in priority could pay off since players like Armein Kirkland and Jihad Muhammed may feel a sense of freedom, but ultimately they'll be judged on their number of wins and loses."
Q. The critics of Coach Huggins would say the Bearcat program recruited too many players of questionable character and had too many off-the-court problems. Can the Bearcats recruit good players that stay out of trouble and graduate?
A. "They can definitely recruit better kids, but they may not be as successful in the win column. Nancy Zimpher wants a balance of success on the court and off the court. Early on, Coach Huggins did a poor job of graduating his players, but to his credit, he did a much better job in the last several years. Unfortunately, he then started having a lot of problems with his players and their bad behavior off-the-court. In the end, Bob got what he deserved because a head coach must control his program. I like Bob and he's been good to me, but ultimately Bob's responsible for the kids he brought into his program."
Q. Andy Kennedy is the interim coach. Can Coach Kennedy realistically earn the head coaching job at UC?
A. "No. He's Bob Huggins' assistant, and Saddam Hussein has a better chance of getting that job than Coach Kennedy."
Q. The University of Cincinnati has dominated the Dayton series. Why has UC been able to achieve such dominance over a quality basketball program like Dayton's?
A. "Cincinnati has had better players, dominate players. I also look at the Jim O'Brien era when Dayton wasn't very good. Oliver Purnell did a better job, but his teams were no match for UC either. Bob Huggins brought a number of great players to Cincinnati, and his program has dominated a lot of people. Since I've been at Dayton, I've yet to see a Flyer team that is physically better than Cincinnati."
Q. Cincinnati has never had much success recruiting the Dayton area. Why is that?
A. "There seems to be a line of demarcation north of Tylersville Road. UC is not very well liked up here. Most people look at Cincinnati as the Evil Empire and Huggins as Darth Vader. I'm always very careful about telling people I graduated from UC."
Q. After seeing both the Flyers and the Bearcats this year, what do you expect Tuesday night?
A. "If I had to play the game on a playground, I'd pick UC's starting five, but I do have a question about UC's toughness. I've never said that in the past 16 years, but watching them against Murray State and Illinois State, I didn't see a team that rebounded on the offensive boards like I'm used to seeing. They have outrebounded their opponents by only one rebound per game, and that's a big thing for Dayton. The Flyers usually get pounded on the boards in this game."
Q. Now that UC is in the Big East, will the Bearcats have a recruiting edge over the Flyers and Muskies in the Atlantic 10?
A. "I think it depends on who they hire as a head coach. If they get the right guy, they'll have an advantage."
Q. Is the Big East the premier basketball conference in the country?
A. "Year in and year out it'll be in the top three, but I'd still put the ACC at the top. I will say the Big East and the Atlantic Ten are the only two conferences that improved themselves with their additions this year."
Q. If Andy Kennedy doesn't get the Bearcat job, can UC attract a "big name" coach?
A. "I think they might look at the top assistants in the country. I think any top assistant would find this job very attractive, but it's hard to say if an established coach would be interested. There are so many personal factors involved. I think it's possible a coach at a football school might find the Cincinnati job a more attractive position."
Q. How good is Devan Downey?
A. "When he learns how to make everyone else around him better, he has a chance to really elevate that program. Right now he's trying to elevate his game and not necessarily the team's game. He could end up being the second coming of Nick Van Exel."
Q. The Bearcats were picked 9th in the Big East. Is that where you'd rate them?
A. "I'm surprised they were picked that low. Connecticut is the best team and Villanova is up there too, if they can get and stay healthy. Louisville is awfully good, and I love West Virginia and how they're coached. I did a West Virginia game, and they are very impressive. After that I think this senior group at Cincinnati is underrated, and people will soon find that out."