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A little extra padding

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When the Bearcats basketball team takes the court at 7:30 p.m. tonight for its final exhibition game of the season vs. Bellarmine, it'll do so with a variety of protection that you won't see. That's because UC, for the first time, is wearing adidas undergarments that have extra padding sewn into the material.

 

The Bearcats use them for practice and some will use them for their games. According to a few of the players and coach Mick Cronin, the new duds have been helpful during the preseason. I guess you don't have to be a football player to wear pads after all.

 

"It helps you take a little more bumping," junior forward Rashad Bishop said. "When you get bumped, you don't feel it as much."

 

At a recent practice, Bishop showed off his padding - it was on the back of his undershirt, and it was on the upper thighs of his compression shorts. He says he's a fan of the extra armor.

 

"It's comfortable," Bishop said. "The bumps you usually take in practice - like a knee to the thigh - you don't feel it hardly."

 

For the Bearcats guards, the pads are especially important.

 

"Cashmere (Wright), I make him pad up," Cronin said. "You look at him, he's got hip pads, thigh pads. He's always flying at the rim. He's always getting hit when he's blowing by somebody with all these big guys. He takes a beating in practice. Now, they're more protected at practice."

 

As Cronin walked away, he called over to freshman guard Lance Stephenson, who was shooting jumpers in the gym before practice.

 

"Lance, do you have padded tights?" Cronin asked. Stephenson showed him that he was. "You going to wear them in a game?"

 

"Yes sir," he said.

 

"They don't slow you down?"

 

"No."

 

That was my biggest question. I thought the pads would be bulky or would make the Bearcats a little less quick. Apparently not.

 

"It's lightweight," Cronin said. "The adidas people did a great job, but they had to work with the NCAA to get approval with all this stuff. They're pads, but they're as light as you can make them."

 

--Of course, if you've got nothing going on tonight, come on out to the Barnes & Noble at Newport on the Levee at 6 p.m. We'll be discussing and signing copies of Bearcats Rising with Kevin Huber and Artrell Hawkins.

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