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Huggins back on court, back in form

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 10, 2002


CINCINNATI -- Bob Huggins embraced a referee and crouched calmly at courtside for the first few minutes. His newfound serenity didn't last long.

CINCINNATI -- Bob Huggins embraced a referee and crouched calmly at courtside for the first few minutes. His newfound serenity didn't last long.

Seven minutes, to be exact.

In his first game since a massive heart attack, Cincinnati's coach acted nothing like a cardiac patient. He ranted at officials and players alike and kicked the scorer's table during a 71-51 exhibition victory Saturday night over Northern Kentucky.

Six weeks to the day that he collapsed in Pittsburgh's airport, the 49-year-old coach took the court dressed in all black, except for the snakeskin boots, and lived up to his promise that he wasn't going to be any different.

It took a few minutes of bad basketball to make his temper boil.

"It was excruciating," said Huggins, who sipped a diet soda and munched on carrots and celery afterward.

He was unusually calm at the outset.

Referee Steve Welmer, a longtime friend, embraced him during warmups. They talked for a couple of minutes, shared a laugh and warmly shook hands.

Huggins' face was drawn and he looked tired at the end of a long week of travel for the Conference USA media previews in Chicago and daily three-hour practices.

"He looked a little thinner and a little more relaxed," Northern Kentucky coach Ken Shields said. "It's easier to be relaxed in an exhibition. We're going to see Huggs be Huggs."

WOMEN: Former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore and Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp will be inducted into the hall of fame next spring with four others. The names of the inductees will be made official today between the Louisiana Tech-Texas Tech and the Tennessee-Oklahoma games at the State Farm Classic in Knoxville, Tenn. Barmore and Sharp are joined by former Maryland and USA Basketball point guard Tara Heiss, Texas businessman Claude Hutcherson and AAU All-Americans Patsy Neal and Doris Rogers.

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