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Old 03-25-2010, 07:17 AM   #1
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A look ahead to 2010/2011

Mick Cronin: Let's start with the man most responsible for the turnaround and also the man with the most to lose. Cronin will enter his fifth year at UC next season, and let's just get this out in front: if he doesn't make the NCAA tournament, the heat he feels next year will be like nothing he encountered this season. If he falls short again, I think his job will be in jeopardy.

Cronin, I think, has done a phenomenal job getting this team, which had only one scholarship player returning when he picked up the pieces left by the destruction of the Bob Huggins era, from the cellar of the Big East to the middle of the pack. Yes, the Bearcats' conference record was 7-11, and yes, people are probably tired of Cronin referring to his team as young and that the Bearcats were close to winning so many games if only they had gotten some breaks.

But look at his win total: it's increased every season. Look at some of the teams UC has beaten: top-25 non-conference opponents and top-of-the-line Big East foes. At the very least, Cronin has brought UC back to the point of respectability. Now, I understand that's not enough for most fans, and yeah, I can agree with that. People don't want respectability; they want their teams to compete for conference titles. I think Cronin can take this program even higher, but it needs to be next year. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Senior class

Rashad Bishop: The first question obviously is this: will he be back? I'm not sure, and for now, Cronin isn't talking. I'm guessing he'll return (he was spotted hanging outside the team locker room following its NIT games), but if not, UC didn't seem to miss a beat without him. What Bishop brings to this team is his perimeter defense and the ability to hit an occasional 3-pointer. But if he's a distraction, perhaps his attributes aren't worth it.

Bishop, out of anybody in this junior class, has been the most consistent on the court, and although Bishop doesn't strike me as a typical senior leader - not in the same way that Deonta Vaughn tried to be this year - he would be instrumental to next year's team. He's just kind of there in the background, usually playing good defense and occasionally making an impact on offense. You don't base your team on him, but he's usually pretty good to keep around.

Larry Davis: What happened to Davis this year? He went from a player who was 15th in the Big East with a 37.9 3-point field goal percentage in conference-only games to a guy who couldn't make a shot if his team's life depended on it. At times, in fact, you wondered why Davis was even on the court. It's a fair question, considering he made only 2 of his final 22 three-point attempts in the last nine games. Cronin obviously had a long leash on him, but Davis needs to improve his shooting. Otherwise, I have to wonder if he'll have any kind of impact on the squad next year.

Ibrahima Thomas: He really seemed to hit his stride in the final few games of the season, and he showed some of the potential Cronin talked about last year as Thomas waited out his transfer season. He showed his rebounding ability, he showed he could shoot the ball a bit, and he showed he can bring a certain energy to the team. He only has one year of eligibility remaining, but I think he'll have a strong season next year. He might not be a star, but he'll be a solid starter for this squad.

Darnell Wilks: He was the player most helped by Bishop's absence. In the final five games of the season, he averaged 20.6 minutes and 6.8 points. This, after playing a total of 21 minutes the seven games before that. His athleticism can't be denied, and his dunking ability can be jaw-dropping. But the team will need more than that next year from Wilks. He showed he can be a strong contributor. Can he be more than that? If Bishop isn't around, he might need to be.

Anthony McClain: Maybe without Steve Toyloy around any more, McClain will have a chance to earn more playing time (he averaged 4.2 minutes per game this year). But at this point, we pretty much know what McClain is capable of giving this team. A little bit of rebounding against teams that aren't quite as big, and a guy who can make a layup if the ball caroms to him. Other than that, I'm not sure what else Cronin can get from him.

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Old 03-25-2010, 04:36 PM   #2
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Final Coaches show of the year.

Last edited by psax889906; 03-25-2010 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 03-30-2010, 04:07 PM   #3
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Part 2 from Katz


Yancy Gates: He's one of the more maddening players on the team, isn't he? Sometimes, he looks absolutely unstoppable, grabbing rebounds and scoring points at will. At times, he looks like a 6-foot-9, 240-pound monster who can become one of the most-dominant players in the Big East. And then there are the times where he disappears. You saw Steve Toyloy on the court, and you thought to yourself, "Man, Gates has been out of the game for a while, huh?"

It's like Mick Cronin said a few weeks ago. Gates, even after two years of college basketball, is still a project. He still struggles with his work ethic in practice, and you have to admit that it's strange that Gates doesn't seem to take umbrage when he's benched during games. He's a happy-go-lucky guy, and that comes through when he plays basketball. Which is partially why he's maddening. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, which is fine. But probably not what people expect out of him.

Dion Dixon: Last year, I was really impressed with Dixon. He was UC's top player off the bench, scoring 7.3 points per game, and he worked harder than anybody else on the court. He hit some big shots, and he looked like he could be a real contributor. This year, though, was a disaster for him. He couldn't shoot (he was 21.5 percent from the 3-point line), and he simply looked like he had regressed - which is probably why he didn't play as much. I'll be interested to see how he bounces back next season. I still think he could be a regular starter at some point. But I'm less sure of that now.


Lance Stephenson: Although he didn't live up to his enormous hype - and really, there was a very small chance he was going to do so - he had a solid freshman season. He led the team with 12.3 points per game, and in the last few games of the year, he showed the ability to take over long stretches of the game. It took him most of the year to figure out how to balance his ability to pass the ball and make his teammates better with scoring and leading his team to victory. As Deonta Vaughn's career wound down, Stephenson began to make strides there. If he forgoes the NBA draft and returns to the team, like he says he will, he'll be perhaps the best player in the conference.

Cashmere Wright: After tearing his ACL before last season, he waited a long time to see the court, and Bearcats fans were equally as excited to see him in action. The results were mixed. He was still, after all, a freshman, and he made plenty of freshman mistakes. Plus, I'm not sure I've seen another player with the ability to get to the rim so often and then miss so many layups. But he got better as the year went on, and it'll be interesting to see how much he improves in the offseason. Still, he wasn't the most impressive rookie point guard we saw this year. That goes to ...

Jaquon Parker: That would be Parker, who wasn't nearly as highly-touted as Wright. And yeah, he went through stretches where he didn't play at all, but toward the end of the year, Parker's toughness, his know-how, and his shooting ability were very impressive. Based on preseason expectations and how he performed during the season, Parker was more exciting than any other freshmen on the roster. I think he could be really good for the Bearcats.


Word leaking from practices this season was that Sean Kilpatrick - who redshirted - was a beast and, at times, would dominate the proceedings. So, the expectations for him next year will be high. The incoming freshmen recruits are highly-regarded as well. Kelvin Gaines, a 6-foot-10 center, should help in the paint with his shot-blocking ability, and Justin Jackson, a 6-8 forward, will help with defense and rebounding. Also, Anthony McBride, a 6-2 guard who's Gates' brother, will try to find playing time.

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2011, uc hoops

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