Mark Adams is an ESPN analyst for their national and regional broadcasts and covers the Dayton Flyers for WHIO-TV. He also hosts a "Flyer Feedback" radio program in Dayton. BCI spoke to Mark to get his impressions on the two programs and the UC/Dayton rematch in Las Vegas.
Q. When Dayton beat UC a couple weeks ago, you ended your broadcast with, "The king is dead. Long live the king." Do you believe the quality of Cincinnati basketball will drop now that Bob Huggins is gone?
A. When Dayton beat UC recently, it was the first Flyer win at UC since 1971 and only their second win in 51 years. "The king is dead" comment seemed appropriate in describing the frustration of Flyer fans who have lived through this one-sided series. As far as the quality of UC basketball dropping, I believe it already has. They've played better lately, and I love Devan Downey, but they are operating under very difficult circumstances. The new coach will lose a recruiting class, and they're now competing in the Big East. That's going to be tough. Also, I see signs of a shift in financial support. A good example of that is the fact that Fox Sports Ohio is not televising the Las Vegas Classic this year. I worked that tournament the last few years, and apparently Fox couldn't get enough advertising support to get that thing televised this year. I think that may have something to do with Bob Huggins not being there.
Q. From 1977-1991, UC had no NCAA tournament appearances. Should UC fans be braced for another stretch like that one?
A. I really don't know. I do know that Bob won a ton of games. After the Tony Yates era, did anyone imagine UC would go on that kind of run. I think they've won 25 games in 9 of the last 10 years. That's pretty hard to believe and even harder to do. I doubt it'll return to the Yates' years, but it's going to be tough.
Q. After broadcasting the game in Cincinnati, you mentioned that the Bearcat crowd was peculiar. What did you mean?
A. I thought there was a significant number of fans that were there to be vindictive. Being an ex-coach, it's a sense you get. I think some of those fans would rather make a statement than support those players wearing the UC jerseys. That really bothers me too. They should be rooting for their kids. Devan Downey had nothing to do with what happened. He's playing hard, going to class, and representing those fans. They should be thinking more about that.
Q. Is the current situation at UC similar to when Don Donoher was fired at Dayton?
A. It's similar in that neither guy (Huggins or Donoher) wanted to leave. Bob admitted he made mistakes, and who hasn't made mistakes over 16 years in a job? But Bob's teams won. One difference would be that Don Donoher had some years at Dayton where people thought he should have done better. But Don Donoher was unjustly fired at Dayton, and some UC fans feel the same way about Coach Huggins.
Q. What surprised you in the first meeting between these two teams?
A. UC's defense and intensity, but Dayton did UC a favor. That game looks to have woken UC up. The loss to Dayton was an insult to UC fans. Dayton has beaten UC down there only two times in the last 50 years. The UC win over Vandy was a direct result of the Dayton loss.
Q. What does Dayton need to do to get the sweep on Thursday?
A. They have to play similar to the first game. They need to take care of the basketball. Downey and White are better when they can get up and down the court so Dayton needs to limit the turnovers. Secondly, Dayton needs to rule the boards again. Hicks wasn't really much of a factor in the first game because they didn't really get the ball to him. Lastly, Dayton needs to match UC's intensity.
Q. What does UC need to do to avenge the earlier loss?
A. They need to get tough down low. Play UC basketball. Ed Jucker made UC all about power basketball, and they need to get back to being tough in the paint and on the glass. Also, White needs to lead that team and come up big. As the leader, he needs to control Armein Kirkland and Jihad Muhammad. Those two are selfish at times and want to play the old "give and go"-Give to me, and you guys go to hell. If Kirkland and Muhammad play unselfishly, the Bearcats are pretty good.
Q. If you had to predict the outcome of Thursday's game, what would your prediction be?
A. I'd bet on UC. I felt UC would win the first game, but they were selfish. Since the UC game, Dayton has struggled with its identity. They have a problem at point guard and struggle to score. If UC comes out with tough defense, they should win with their experience and talent.
Q. Has Andy Kennedy earned this head coaching job at UC?
A. Cincinnati will not hire him because he's Bob Huggins' assistant. If their AD is smart, he'd do what USC did. They named Henry Bibby the interim coach, but hired Tim Floyd so he could at least go out and begin recruiting during the season. Floyd did not coach the team. He just evaluated talent and recruited players the second half of the season.
Q. Will this Bearcat team make the NCAA tournament?
A. I really don't know. There are so many variables with this team, but my gut says they will.
Q. Will Dayton make the NCAA tourney?
A. Dayton is marginally better than last year, but they have a tougher schedule. I think they'll win 18-19 games, but I'd be surprised if they made it.
Q. Who's your favorite all-time Bearcat player?
A. Dean Foster because he was a solid point guard, but more recently, I'd say Steve Logan. Logan was a great competitor, and it was a privilege to watch him play.
Q. Who's your all-time favorite Flyer?
A. It would be Bobby Joe Hooper or Don May. Since I was a point guard, I always liked Bobby Joe Hooper. Don May is Dayton's version of the Big O. Since I've been doing my radio show, I've met Don May, and he's a big fan of the show. That's really cool, and he's a great guy.
Q. You grew up in Cincinnati, got a degree from UC, but you've always been a Dayton fan. Why is that?
A. The Don Donoher Show on Sunday mornings. I don't even remember if there was a Tay Baker Show. I guess that shows how visionary WHIO was even back then to have a coach's show. I really liked Don Donoher's Top 10 teams each week, and he had players in the studio with him.
Bearcat Insider wants to thanks Mark Adams for taking the time to talk Bearcat basketball.