Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mountaineers too much for Bearcats

Cincinnati shot 28% in the second half, blowing a 10 point lead in the half. West Virginia didn't play great, but they played well enough to score 74 points to Cincinnati's 68. Devin Ebanks had a 12-10 double double, Kevin Jones had 15, and Truck Bryant had 14, nearly all at the free throw line. Cincinnati was lead by Deonta Vaughn's 15. Lance Stephenson had 14-9, and Yancy Gates had 10 points, but 0 rebounds. The officials were pretty awful, especially in Gates' case. His 3rd and 4th fouls were bullshit calls. The foul disparity was 12-3 in the first half, and 26-13 the whole game. About 4 of those fouls can be accounted for end of the game fouling. This was a brutal loss. The season rests on beating Villanova and Georgetown and not flaking out in the Big East tournament. More on this one Monday.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Know Your Opponent: West Virginia Mountaineers edition

Saturday at 2 pm the Cincinnati Bearcats start the 3 game gauntlet to end the regular season, by heading to Morgantown to play West Virginia. West Virginia is a really good team, and they have a coach that we are familiar with. The Mountaineers have been good at home, 11-2, while Cincinnati has struggled on the road, 2-7. Cincinnati hasn't beaten a team ahead of them in the standings this season. The Bearcats haven't lost to WVU the last 2 seasons, and hopefully that will give them the confidence that they need to prevail. The Bearcats have been mighty inconsistent this season, and it's going to be crucial for Lance Stephenson and Yancy Gates, coming off career best performances, to match their play from Wednesday. West Virginia is coming off a tough loss against UConn that Da'Sean Butler said they played 8 on 5. The Mountaineers have dropped 3 of 5, and it would be big for the Bearcats, who have dropped 4 of 6, to add to that. This game has the chance to define a season. It could be the win that gets West Virginia back on track. It could be the win that starts a UC run through the last 3 games. It's going to be a confidence builder for one of the two teams. Before we see how they match up, take a look at The Smoking Musket. It's a good West Virginia blog. Yes, I'm surprised that they can use computers in West Virginia just as much as you are. Let's number it up.

Bob Huggins

The Bearcats roll into Morgantown tomorrow afternoon to play West Virginia, who is coached by an old familiar friend. This post would have been much better if the blog had existed last season when Bob Huggins returned to Cincinnati, but this is almost as good because it's the first time that both teams are good. Bob has coached against Cincinnati the last 2 seasons. The first game, he wore this.
And West Virginia scored only 16 second half points as Cincinnati crushed them 62-39. Last season, Bob Huggins did this.
As he should have after an emotional pregame video and standing ovation. And because Cincinnati topped West Virginia again when Deonta Vaughn made a jumper with 1:38 to go to give UC a 62-60 lead, then John Flowers hit 1 of 2, and Rashad Bishop got a steal from DaSean Butler, followed by Steve Toyloy missing roughly 40 free throws in the last 30 seconds, and Devan Ebanks stepped out of bounds to have Vaughn and Yancy Gates ice the game at the stripe. Fun times those games.

I write this mainly because I wanted to remember the best UC coach of my era. I was an usher my freshman year, and after nearly every home game I got to shake his hand at some point and tell him great win. I also got his autograph a starling number of times at UC football games. Although he was never in the stands, he was always somewhere on the concourse. One time, my grade school teammates accosted him and Mike "Rock" Reicheneker, who none of us knew in like 1996, and who none of us know now (sorry Mike) and Huggs told us to get Mike's autograph because he was a big star. Of course we believed whatever Huggs said, and I have a shirt signed by them both. I know Mike was #13, and that it took 10 minutes to find how to spell his last name. I was also part of the Huggins kids club or whatever it was, as was I with Tony Yates, where you got shitty seats to some blowout game, but one time there was an autograph session. It was the Dontonio Wingfield year I believe. I just remember that I really wanted Damon Flint's, and especially LaZelle Durden's autograph.

I always would listen to Huggs post game interviews on 700 after the games. There was, and is, something about the way he always sounds so disdainful during interviews that makes me feel bad for him. It's like he hates doing the interview so much, but knows he has to, and does it with the most boring voice in the world. I always found it weird how he would be yelling and screaming and carrying on, and 10 minutes later he would monotone "Well Chuck, we just didn't rebound." It's been a long time since I've heard a Huggins post game interview, but I imagine West Virginia fans write the same thing now.

A classic Bob Huggins thing seems to be wearing suits one season, and then sweatsuits another. I never knew why he does this, and I find it weird. I remember hearing on talk radio that he would be on the best dressed coaches list, and the next, on the worst dressed coaches list. Obviously this is a sweatsuit season. I remembered his UC windbreaker seasons being the not as good ones, and the suit seasons being the better ones. Like if Huggins knew his team was going to be great, he would wear a suit and look sharp. But this season, his team is very good, and yet the sweatsuit.

I have always been a huge Huggins defender, or at least, I was. I would spout the facts that he would give in interviews about UC having juco's, and guys who came back later to get their degrees, when people would say UC didn't graduate anyone. I always defended every shady player that UC recruited when all the Xavier fans, Kentucky fans, and so on would call them thugs. I don't think I ever defended a player I hated more than Art Long. I remember Art Long not being good, and always in foul trouble, but I spoke of him like he was Bill Russell. I would tell my Xavier friends that Reuben Patterson was misunderstood. I would soon pretend I never said that at all when allegations came up in his NBA days. I would defend any UC player no matter what they did under any circumstances because Bob Huggins recruited them, believed in them, and I did too.

On the day of his heart attack, I remember being devastated by the news. It was a rough time not knowing if he was going to come back to Cincinnati and coach. I held my breath, however silly this sounds, when he would yell at the refs and get heated with his face turning red. Even now, looking at Huggs, I wish that he would get into great shape and chill out.

The day that was worse than the heart attack was the dui arrest news. It made me lose a ton of respect for Bob Huggins. I am of the opinion that drunk driving is one of the worst things that a person can possibly do. I know, I take quite the strong stand. I also think cancer is bad. I think drunk driving is inexcusable, especially if you have the resources and the intelligence to know better. I have never, and will never do this, and I hope none of you do either. The dui didn't wipe out all of Huggins' accomplishments, but it cast a rather large shadow on them. The news, and subsequent video, were more disappointing than every first weekend tournament loss. I don't want to get into the whole thing with him getting fired in detail, but I think it should have been done right off the bat. UC's administrators, namely the woman who will not be named, handled the situation in the worst possible way. They had no choice but to fire Huggins, and instead waited a year to do so. It killed all recruiting with the Andy Kennedy situation, and damaged nearly everything Bob Huggins built. I honestly believe that if UC fired Huggins a week after the arrest, we would have not gone through half the hardships that we have endured. UC would have hit a swoon of course, but there wouldn't have been a year where only Deonta Vaughn came to the program. Huggs could have resigned, and maybe there wouldn't have been a major backlash by the fans like there is to this day.

When I see Bob Huggins coaching West Virginia, I can't help but think that things worked out like they had to be. He looks happy coaching at his school. I know he loves Cincinnati, but it seems that he is home. I wish that Cincinnati fans who are still bitter, and wish that Huggs would come back or shouldn't have left, would accept that fact. We are in a new era of Cincinnati basketball, one in which everyone has moved on. Everyone, but some die hard fans. Well, allegedly die hard fans. Can you really be die hard when you give up on the team? That's beside the point. When we see Bob Huggins on the sidelines tomorrow, the novelty will start to wear off. I mean, it already has. We will probably never get to the point where it will wear off completely, but it will soon be a footnote on the game. Especially in Morgantown. I imagine when Huggins comes back to Cincinnati next year, there will still be a standing ovation, but hopefully by then there will be one for Mick Cronin, and the Bearcats as well.

Good luck tomorrow Huggs, I'll be rooting for you to fail miserably.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Video of Lance Stephenson's throwdown against DePaul

Not the greatest quality, but it gets the job done. 513official3 is doing the Lord's work. Hat tip to Bearcat Lair

Cincinnati 74 DePaul 69

(Enquirer/Gary Landers)

The Bearcats got win 16, and improved to 7-8 in the Big East by downing the Blue Demons of DePaul Wednesday night. DePaul took it's 9th loss in a row, and is now 8-19, 1-14. The Bearcats really couldn't afford to lose this game, and they kinda tried to. If I'm going to highlight the positives, I have to highlight the big negative, the free throw shooting. I will in a minute because a couple Bearcats had career days, and I am going to give them their due first. Yancy Gates showed up ready to dominate, and the big man did. Yancy put in a career high 23 points on 11-15 shooting, and gobbled up 8 rebounds, 6 offensive. DePaul had no answer for him. Lance Stephenson practiced until 2 am Wednesday morning and it paid off. Lance had the best game of his career, and one of the best all around Bearcat games in a long time. Born Ready had 18 points on 7-12, 10 rebounds, 5 offensive, and 4 assists. And he dunked on Mac Koshwal's face. It was an NBA performance by the talented freshman.

To the big negative, Cincinnati was a horrific 14-32. Just think about that. If UC hit free throws, this game would have been a blow out. It was the worst I have ever seen a team shoot free throws in my life. I coached 8 year olds, and they wouldn't go 14-32 with the college lines. It was beyond pathetic. Ibrahima Thomas was 2-5, Steve Toyloy 0-1, Deonta Vaughn 2-5, Lance Stephenson 4-8, Larry Davis 3-4, Dion Dixon 1-2, Yancy Gates 1-5, and Cashmere Wright 1-2. Awful. Let's get to the game recap.

The first basket of the game spoke a lot to how this one was going to play out, as Cincinnati scored on a Steve Toyloy put back. Cincinnati would control the glass all night. UC scored the first 6, with open lay ups for Rashad Bishop and Deonta Vaughn. DePaul got their first 3 from Mac Koshwal, as the big man hit a free throw, and displayed a nice turn move for an open dunk. UC took an 8-3 lead into the first tv timeout when Ibrahima Thomas hit Yancy Gates for a bucket and a foul. Gates would miss the free throw. UC continued to hit the offensive glass, this time it was Lance Stephenson scoring on a put back. The lead stayed around 7, as we had buckets by Jeremiah Kelly, Gates, Krys Faber, a goaltend by Darnell Wilks on a breakaway lay up attempt by Kelly, a Gates free throw line jumper, and a Cashmere Wright fast break dunk when Dion Dixon tipped the ball loose to Rashad Bishop, who hit Cash with a half court bounce pass. UC lead 16-9 at that point, and built the lead to 20-11 after a Koshwal tip in for DePaul, and a Wright lay up and Bishop runner for UC. The Blue Demons would go on a run. Kelly, who averages 5 points, nailed a 3 for his 7th, and last, point. Mike Stovall iced a jumper, and after UC had a press break leading to a Gates dunk from Larry Davis, Michael Bizoukas hit a 3 to make it 22-19. Vaughn had a lay up blocked by Koshwal, leading to a Devin Hill breakaway dunk in which not a one UC player moved I don't think. The Blue Demons took the lead after Steve Toyloy dropped a pass at one end, and on the other fouled Koshwal who scored. He missed the free throw, but DePaul had a 23-22 lead at the 5 minute mark. UC would counter that run with one of their own to close the half. Lance Stephenson got to the line twice, making the first pair, and on the second pair, made the first, and missed the second, but Gates got the rebound and scored on a putback. Larry Davis hit a runner from the right baseline, Gates scored inside on a pass from Stephenson, and Larry Davis hit 2 free throws for an 11-0 Cat run. The Demons got 3 back on a Will Walker triple. The Bearcats finished on a 13-3 overall run, as Lance Stephenson ended the half with Sportscenter top play #4 by jumping over Koshwal for the dunk. It's pictured up top, and right here. UC lead 35-26 at the break.
The Demons were 11-31, 3-8 from 3, 1-3 at the stripe,  15 rebounds, 3 offensive. They were powered by Mac Koshwal 7-9, Kelly 7, Bizoukas 3-3 assists, Walker 3, Hill, Faber, Stovall 2. For the Cats, they shot 15-35, 0-5, 5-9, 29 boards, 10 offensive, with 7 assists. UC was lead by Gates 12-5, Stephenson 7-7, Cash 4-2 assists, Davis 4, Bishop 4-3-2 assists, Vaughn, Toyloy 2, Thomas 0-7.

Half two started well for UC as Dion Dixon, my best friend, made a jumper. Koshwal scored 4 quick for DePaul, but UC got them back with buckets by Stephenson on a put back, and a coast to coast lay up, in which he drew a foul, but missed the free throw, around a Toyloy inside score. Will Walker started his second half scoring by hitting a pair of free throws. Tony Freeland had a nasty putback dunk to cut the lead to 9, but UC got it to 12 at the 15:30 mark as Stephenson found Gates who scored with some harm. Walker started getting hot, as he got a lay up and hit a 3. Ibrahima Thomas shocked the world, and considering how UC shot free throws in the game, he really did, by making a pair of free throws. Yes, Ibrahima Thomas. Freeland and Gates exchanged put backs, Gates' coming on the 4th UC shot of the possession. DePaul was down 9 with 12:28, and would cut the lead. Will Walker drilled another j, and his name has to be typed out in full. Lance Stephenson scored on a turnaround jumper from the elbow, but Koshwal would score. Koshwal score again on a move that drew a foul from Toyloy, and after the made free throw, it was a 4 point game 52-48 with 10 minutes left. Dixon made 1 of 2 at the line, and Rashad Bishop hit a shot, but that was wiped away by a Faber bucket, foul, and free throw. Will Walker got to the rim easily and it was a 2 point game. UC went right back inside, and got 4 points. Steve Toyloy scored and got fouled. When he missed the free throw, Yancy Gates got the board and scored. Michael Bizoukas hit his second 3 for the last of his 5 points to cut the lead back in half with 6 minutes left. UC would stretch the lead out. Gates would hit a turnaround, get fouled, but miss the free throw. However UC saved the ball off DePaul, and Ibrahima Thomas got fouled. He missed the front end of a 1-1, but once again the Cats saved the ball off a Blue Demon, leading to Lance Stephenson hitting a step back jumper. UC kept the 63-56 lead to the 3:53 mark. UC turned on the defense, forcing a travel by Walker and Koshwal turnover, leading to Stephenson hooking Gates up for a dunk. Koshwal quickly got a traditional 3 point play to cut it to 6. DePaul seemed to be unsure to foul, because Deonta Vaughn was able to get to the basket, score and get fouled. He missed the free throw. Walker scored, but the Blue Demons seemed unsure of whether or not to foul again, leading to Stephenson scoring and getting fouled. He made the free throw. Will Walker drilled another 3, but after Cash hit 1 of 2 at the line, DePaul turned the ball over. Vaughn hit 1 of 2, but UC fouled Walker on the other end, who hit both. Vaughn would get fouled once again, and would make 1 of 2 once again, but once again UC saved the ball off DePaul. That set the record for most once agains in one sentence. Larry Davis hit 1 of 2. The scoring, and game, ended after Will Walker made 3 free throws after Lance fouled him sillily on a 3 attempt.

Let's give DePaul credit. Their kids play really hard. They don't have a ton of talent outside of Walker, and Koshwal, but they do their best. Koshwal was really good, and had 19-12. Will Walker had 3 in the first half, but exploded for 21 in the second for his 24. DePaul shot 24-46 40.6%, 6-17 35.3%, 11-13 84.6%, with 31 rebounds, 10 offensive. Jeremiah Kelly had 7, Michael Bizoukas 6, Krys Faber 5-7, Tony Freeland 4-4, Devin Hill and Mike Stovall had 2. Cincinnati shot 30-59 50.8%, 0-9, 14-32 43.8%, with 44 rebounds, 16 offensive. Gates and Stephenson were highlighted up top, Deonta Vaughn, Steve Toyloy and Rashad Bishop had 6, Larry Davis and Cashmere Wright 5, Dion Dixon 3, and Ibrahima Thomas 2. But, Ibrahima had 10 rebounds. UC had 2 double digit rebounders for the first time since the Vanderbilt game.

This was an important game in the sense that UC couldn't lose, and they didn't. It wasn't the most impressive game, or the best to watch, but it was win 16, and that's all that matters. Now it's onto Morgantown to meet West Virginia and their coach who seems vaguely familiar. Let's see that Lance picture again. Thanks for the great shot Enquirer and Gary Landers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bearcats dump Blue Demons

I just really like that DePaul logo. Cincinnati improved to 16-11, 7-8, with a 74-69 win over 8-19, 1-14 DePaul. Yancy Gates and Lance Stephenson had career days, and UC might have set a school record for worst free throw shooting ever. Gates had a career high 23 points to go with 8 rebounds. Lance went off for 18-10-4 assists. Great effort from those 2. Ibrahima Thomas grabbed 10 rebounds, and UC had 44. The Bearcats let the Demons hang around by shooting 14-32 at the free throw line. That's right. We'll break this down more in the recap tomorrow. DePaul played hard tonight. Will Walker had 24, and I believe 21 in the second half. Mac Koshwal had 19-12 as well. This game wasn't pretty, wasn't very fun to watch, but it was a win. And it will end with an amazing recap tomorrow that you should all read. Probably twice. We needed this one, and we got it. That's all that matters.

Know Your Opponent: DePaul Blue Demons edition

Tonight at 7 on ESPN regional tv and ESPN 360, the 15-11, 6-8 Bearcats host the 8-18, 1-13 DePaul Blue Demons. DePaul is the last place team in the Big East, and losing to them is unacceptable. This is a game that the Bearcats can't give away if they expect to have any chance of making the NCAA Tournament. That's still a possibility due to the Bearcats schedule, but it doesn't look promising. There's a chance that the Bearcats could finish 4-0 to cap the season. I'm not that optimistic, but there is no harm in trying to be. The only way to get there, is by winning the first game. And that game is tonight. If the Bearcats were to lose to DePaul, who's only Big East win was against Marquette in Chicago, the drum beat for Mick Cronin to go would get really loud. DePaul won the last meeting between the teams in the Big East tournament, after DePaul won 0 conference games in the regular season. Mick's late season record has been under fire as the losses have mounted, and losing this one would be the second worse loss of that era behind the previously mentioned DePaul game. We know we have to win tonight. Let's see how the teams stack up against one another.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Questions and Answers

There are many topics swirling around Cincinnati sports, and the best way to sort them out? Questions. The best way to sort out the questions? Answers. Yes, we've reached the point where it's questions and answers time. Unless you want to read a 43,000 word post about Mick Cronin's comments on why Yancy Gates didn't play at the end of the game Sunday.

Why didn't Yancy Gates play at the end of the game on Sunday?
If you listen to Mick, it's because he says that Marquette was exposing Gates and, to a lesser extent, Steve Toyloy. If you listen to Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, that was not the case. If you read Marquette blogs, like Cracked Sidewalks, they were happy that #34 took a seat on the pine. If you read any UC blog or message board, they are furious about this. As we should be. Every coach worth their salary goes offense for defense in those situations. It's no different than if Yancy was playing with 4 fouls. Yet, Mick was happy running pretty much a man down on offense. Ibrahima Thomas is good and getting better, but he only had 5 points at the end of regulation. He wasn't playing that well. Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright went offense for defense down the stretch. It's baffling to me.

Is Deonta Vaughn the alpha dog of this team?
I'm going to surprise everyone, no. I don't think this team has an alpha dog. I think it could have been Lance Stephenson, but he lost whatever mojo he had after the first Connecticut game. Maybe he let the game winning points and praise get to his head. He's been pretty not good lately. I would like to see him get more minutes, but he's not doing much with the minutes he's had ever since he came back from injury. Besides the Notre Dame game, he played well then. Yancy Gates could be the alpha dog, but it doesn't seem like he wants to be. When he wants the ball and plays hard, he's nearly unstoppable. But, his play comes off as nonchalant at times. I'm not saying he's not trying, but it looks like he doesn't care much if he gets touches or runs back on d. Having said all that, it SHOULD be Deonta Vaughn's team, and the fact it's not has really hurt the Bearcats. We have needed a leader to step up since the let's say UAB game, but none has. I don't know what happened to Deonta. The past 3 years of Vaughn put this version to shame. I don't know if he wanted to get drafted so he started playing more point guard and distributing, or whether he and Lance Stephenson hate each other and can't play together. Deonta had his big alpha dog moment of the season Sunday, and I guarantee sophomore Deonta nails that 3.

What undersung player does UC need to be more consistent every game?
Rashad Bishop. In a way, Bishop signifies this team. He'll play great, not show up, play solid, play bad, and play ok. He played really well on Sunday against Marquette, he no showed Louisville, played solid against Providence, played badly against South Florida, and ok against UConn in Hartford. Rashad is the most improved Bearcat this season. In the games he hasn't shot well, he's rebounded well. I would like to see his assists take the uptick they did last year though. He seems more confident in his shot. He needs to work on the 3 ball still, and getting the 2% back up to the 60s where it was last year.

Are the guards coming off the bench finally back to playing like we know they can?
I really hope that Larry Davis, and Dion Dixon, who is my best friend, have started going out there and just played. Both played pretty significant minutes until Big East play started. Larry even started a few games. Both get their minutes yanked around, but I think Davis is rounding into form. After a horrible shooting slump, he's hit 8-17 from 3 the past 3 games he's played minutes in. Dixon has rebounded well in his time, but he needs to work on his jumper this summer. He shot 25% from 3 last year, and is at only 30% this year. He shot really well against Marquette, but I think that taking too many 3s is what gets him bench time. He can play d and be a pest, so we need him playing hard and well. I think that both are ready to step in again. Especially if Lance Stephenson has checked out.

What does the Big East tournament bracket look like right now?
Per our friends at Friar Blog.

Can we stop talking about basketball now?
Sure football fan.

Are any UC athletes on the twitter?
There are a few. On the Bearcats Blog twitter account, I have a list where you can see them all. It's quite fancy. My twitter is @ucbearcatsblog.

Any truth on Cincinnati playing at Tennessee in 2011?
Yes, that's absolutely true. It's just a one time deal with UC playing in Knoxville, but it's a good thing. I just found this out like 3 days ago, so I'm hoping you were all in the same boat as me. 

When is the Spring Game?
April 24. I've been promised that this is a different team than previously. I'm interested to see how the running back situation plays out. I really like Isaiah Pead, and I think Darrin Williams can be a stud. He's pretty fast, and I think he could be a gamebreaker. 

Where do draft analysts think Mardy Gilyard is going in the draft?
From everything I've seen, Mardy is being projected as a second round pick. People are worried about his weight, 185. Mardy has all the skills and drive, and I think if he has a good combine, starts Saturday, he could be a late first rounder. Maybe that's overly optimistic, but I believe in Mardy Gilyard.

What about Tony Pike?
Tony has been ranked as the 4th or 5th best QB in the draft. He has also been told to bulk up by the analysts. Whatever the dude's name on the NFL Network said he has Pike in the 4th round. Mike Mayock's his name. He is normally pretty right, and he's not Todd McShay, so you can believe him. 

Who is the coolest Bearcat football player?
That's a tough one. On one hand, I lean towards Travis Kelce because he once retweeted me. On the other, Reuben Johnson's nickname is Daddy. Plus, Reuben Johnson follows me on twitter, and that makes him the coolest Bearcat of this time, and currently, of all time. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Marquette 79 Cincinnati 76 OT


Normally in this space, I write a little recap of how the game ended, and who the stars were. Not today. This was the biggest game of the season for the Bearcats. It was also one of the most disappointing. It was also a microcosm of the season. The Bearcats did some things well, and did some things badly. The end of the first half, phenomenal. In the end, it was the things that they did badly that cost them. They fell in love with the 3. They missed a ton of free throws, 8-16. They had defensive breakdowns at key times late. They stood around on offense. No one stepped up to take charge. And finally, coaching was an issue. I am a Mick fan, I've said it before, but I can't justify not playing Yancy Gates at the end of regulation. I don't know why you don't go offense/defense with him. I don't know why after he dominated against a small Marquette front court, 14 points, 6-9 shooting, 2-2 free throws, he rode the bench the last 7 minutes. Lazar Hayward had 4 fouls, and probably wouldn't have challenged. UC has run plays for Gates in close games, but Yancy doesn't see the floor. He played only 22 minutes. I like Ibrahima Thomas, but he's not a low post threat. At the end of the game, Marquette wasn't worried about him scoring. With Gates in the game, you damn well know Marquette is going to sag the post, which could only help get a better shot. Yancy Gates was finally playing like the monster that we know he can be on offense, and yet he sits for whatever reason. And you know what? I'm not sure that I care what Mick has to say about it. I understand wanting to play 3 guards at the end, but why not 3 guards, Bishop and Gates? I don't get it. It wasn't Mick's fault that Rashad Bishop leaves his feet and gives Hayward an open look to tie. It's not Mick's fault, but it partially is, for Dion Dixon and Deonta Vaughn getting confused, when Marquette was inbounding the ball with 15 seconds left in overtime, and leaving Jimmy Butler wide open for a breakaway dunk. It's not Mick's fault that Deonta Vaughn missed an open 3 off the right wing to tie at the end of overtime. This was a loss we couldn't take, in a way we couldn't take it. Let's break it down.

Deonta Vaughn got a rare start on the bench today. As the ESPN Full Court announcers, and Anthony Buford, told us, it was a coaches decision. Cashmere Wright ended up in the lineup. The scoring started when Steve Toyloy threw a pass to Darius Johnson-Odom, who plays for Marquette, and JO, as I'm calling him now, took it for a lay up. Ibrahima Thomas made a pair of free throws, JO made a 3, and my best friend Dion Dixon drilled a 3 to leave us 5-5 at 15:36. Larry Davis and Lazar Hayward traded triples, but Dixon accounted for the next 3 on a free throw after an offensive rebound, and an assist to Rashad Bishop. Jimmy Butler made a traditional 3 point play as we went back and forth. A Yancy Gates turnaround j was met by a JO 3. Gates free throws were followed by a Davis 3, and down 18-14 with 12:15 left in the half, that's where Marquette made a run. With the Cats playing zone, Joseph Fulce nailed a 3 and a lay up off an airballed 3 point attempt where Gates was late getting back. Dixon had a shot blocked by Butler, and Maurice Acker raced down court and drew a foul, making both shots. Jimmy Butler nailed a 3 right in front of Toyloy, who hesitated in the zone. Butler followed that by drawing a foul on Toyloy, and making both shots. With UC forcing shots, Johnson-Odom hit a 3, followed by a runner to cap the Marquette 17-0 run. The lead was up to 31-18, and shades of last year were dancing in the air. But, the Bearcats turned it around. In the last 6:40, UC played their best basketball of the season. Larry Davis drilled a 3 off a Thomas steal of Hayward. Another turnover lead to a Dixon lay up. A Dixon steal of a thrown away pass by JO lead to a Deonta Vaughn jumper from the left wing. JO threw up an airball that turned into a Dixon triple causing a Marquette timeout. Jimmy Butler had his shot attempt blocked by Rashad Bishop that lead to the only UC miss, a Cash jumper. But, Yancy Gates gathered the rebound, scored, and pulled UC to down 1. After an Acker miss, Dixon hit Bishop for a lay up that gave UC the lead at the 2:46 timeout. Marquette broke the 14-0 run with 2 free throws by Hayward, but UC retook the lead with a Bishop 3. After a couple Marquette misses, and Deonta missing a pair of free throws, Cash came flying down the lane and hit Gates with a beautiful behind the back pass for a wide open dunk bringing the house down. David Cubillan threw a pass right to Dixon, who fed Cash for a lay up, putting the lead at 39-33. The last shot of the half by Fulce was blocked by Gates, and UC went into intermission with that lead on a 21-2 run. I'm not lying when I say that was the best they looked. Great defense, great hustle, great teamwork, great shot selection. It was interesting that there was no Lance Stephenson the first half. Lance played about 6 minutes I would guess. The lineup was mainly Vaughn, Bishop, Davis, Dixon, with Thomas, and Gates switching and Cash getting run at point. 

Marquette was 10-24, 6-13 deep, 7-7 free throws, 11 rebounds, 3 offensive. They were lead by Johnson-Odom's 13, Jimmy Butler's 8-2 steals, Lazar Hayward's 5, Joseph Fulce's 5-3, and Maurice Acker's 2-3. UC shot 14-26, 6-9, 5-8, with 15 boards 5 offensive. UC had 12 assists on their 14 shots. Outstanding. The Cats were lead by Dion Dixon's 9-3-3 assists, Larry Davis' 9, Yancy Gates' 8-2, Rashad Bishop's 7-2, and Ibrahima Thomas, Cashmere Wright, and Deonta Vaughn all had 2-2, with Vaughn tossing in 3 assists. From deep, Davis was 3-5, Dixon 2-2 and Bishop 1-1. Who saw that coming? 

Marquette came out the locker room on a mission. Gates started the half with a jumper, but Johnson-Odom answered with a traditional three point play. A Dixon 3 was answered by a JO 2. A Gates 2 answered by a Cubillan 3. Gates would block an Acker shot, but Jimmy Butler got the loose ball and scored. JO got to the rim, and at the under 16 break, it was 46-45 UC. The teams traded buckets until the 11 minute mark, with Bishop and Vaughn scoring a jumper and a lay up respectively, Butler with another Eagle traditional 3 point play, Steve Toyloy getting a dunk off a spin move assist by Vaughn, 2 Butler free throws, Lance Stephenson's only jumper and points, and finally a Fulce lay up. 54-52 was the score with 11:06 on the clock, and the UC lead wouldn't last long. Davis drilled a long 2, Fulce got a tip in off a Hayward miss. Charges by Cash and Butler, and a missed 3 by Dixon set the stage for a Maurice Acker 3 for the Marquette lead, 57-56, with 9:35 left. The offenses went stagnant for a couple minutes until Gates got a tip in off a Dixon miss, off a Davis steal from Butler. Fulce, who came into the game averaging 3 points, hit a jumper, and after Davis hot shotted a pass through Bishop's hands, got a bucket from a Butler offensive rebound. That was the last of Fulce's crucial 13. Cincinnati called a timeout at that point, with 7 minutes to go down 3, 61-58. Yancy Gates and Lance Stephenson didn't play another minute. In fact, only Wright, Davis, Dixon, Bishop, Vaughn and Thomas played from here out. Neither team scored for a minute and a half, when Davis hit Bishop with a great pass for a lay up to start a UC run. Vaughn went hard to the rim for 2, and Thomas sprinted back after a Hayward miss to get a lay up on a good outlet from Vaughn. UC lead 64-61 with 3:53 left. The defenses stiffened for the next 2 minutes. David Cubillan stepped up to nail a 3 with 1:39 on the clock to tie the score. The Cats answered back with a bad 3 by Cash, but a right place, right time rebound and put back by Davis. Cubillan would miss a subsequent shot. With the ball out of bounds, UC for some reason had Ibrahima Thomas in the game, and in the back court. Of course Ibby was left open because he's a shitty foul shooter. He made 1 of 2 with 43 seconds left. Marquette ran a screen and pop to get the ball to Hayward. Hayward hadn't scored in the half, but got Bishop to jump on a pump fake, and drilled a 3 with 27.5 left. Inexcusable play by Rashad. I wrote at length about not having Gates in the game up top, and UC could have used him, because the shot they got off was a Bishop 3. Of course it was no good because it was a Bishop 3. 

UC won the overtime tip, but in a precursor, had an over and back violation. Hayward and Thomas exchanged buckets, and Butler and Thomas exchanged 1 of 2s at the charity stripe. The turning point came with 2 minutes left. Lazar Hayward dropped a 3. Deonta would badly miss a rushed 3, but Butler would get blocked by Thomas. Cash made a great move past Cubillan, or Acker, but blew an open lay up. Like he missed by 2 feet. Bishop got the rebound, but made, guess what 1 of 2. Marquette took a timeout with 45 seconds left, 11 on the shot clock. The play got Jimmy Butler a lay up attempt, but Bishop fouled him. Butler made both with 38 seconds left, exactly what we needed from Ibby in regulation. UC wasted 17 seconds by standing around and dribbling before Vaughn hit Bishop for a lay up. UC trapped Hayward on the sideline in front of the UC coaches, and was forced to call time with 17 seconds. UC looked in a disarray on the Marquette stack play. As the announcer, clearly a Marquette guy, said "Butler is going long," Butler went long. Dixon, maybe Vaughn if they were supposed to switch, got caught on a pick, leaving Butler wide open and Hayward hit him for a dunk. UC got a Bishop 3 with 7.7 left though. This where that wasted, let's say 12 seconds, killed. Acker was fouled and calmly drilled both. UC ran a clever play where they inbounded to Thomas at half court, who flipped to Cash. Cash dribbled to the left wing and when he got pressured, he passed over to Deonta on the right wing. Deonta caught, had an open look, and missed. Ballgame. #5 has got to make that. Another poor shooting day, 3-8, 0-3, 0-2, on an otherwise strong day for Vaughn. And boy was it costly.

All credit to the Marquette Golden Eagles. If it appears I have slighted them in any way, I didn't mean to. They played strong, and focused, and never faltered. I have said it the past few weeks, this is a tournament team. The Eagles shot 26-57 45.6%, 11-27 40.7%, 16-17 94%. They gathered 33 boards, 9 offensive. They outrebounded UC 21-16 the second half and OT. Leading the Golden Eagles were Jimmy Butler 20-7-3, Darius Johnson-Odom 20, Lazar Hayward 13-11, Joseph Fulce 13-5, Maurice Acker 7-4-6 assists, and David Cubillan 6, both daggers. 

UC finished 30-63 47.6%, 8-20 40%, 8-16 50%, with 31 rebounds, 12 offensive. UC had 20 assists. Rashad Bishop lead the way with 17-5, Yancy Gates had 14-2 blocks in 22 minutes, Larry Davis had 13-3 assists, Dion Dixon 12-3-3 assists-2 steals, Ibrahima Thomas 8-6, Deonta Vaughn 6-7-6 assists, Cashmere Wright 2-3-4 assists, and Steve Toyloy and Lance Stephenson both had 2, and both played 11 minutes. Great efforts by the bench, as Gates, Vaughn, Davis and Dixon came of it. Davis and Dixon had great 1st halves, but had nothing the second half. Especially my best friend. They played hard, all of them. 

At the end of the day, I don't know what to think about this team. I don't imagine the last 3 turning out well, and like the commenter JFK said, I have no idea how they are going to come out Wednesday night against DePaul. And at this point, who does? 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Golden Eagles outlast Bearcats in overtime

The Bearcats 11th loss of the season was one of the hardest ones to take, as Marquette dropped them 79-76 in overtime. The Bearcats are now 15-11, 6-8 in the Big East. Marquette improves to 17-9, 8-6. The Golden Eagles tied the game with about 30 seconds left in regulation on a Lazar Hayward (13-11) three. Hayward made a nice ball fake to get Rashad Bishop in the air, and drilled an open look. UC's last chance in regulation was a Rashad Bishop missed 3. The Bearcats had a chance to tie at the end of overtime, but Deonta Vaughn missed an open 3 off the right wing. UC was lead offensively by Bishop's 17-5. The bench was great, Yancy Gates had 14, Larry Davis 13, Dion Dixon, my best friend, had 12. Marquette's Jimmy Butler had 20-7, and Darius Johnson-Odom had 20 as well.

In a season of disappointing losses, this one is right near the top of the list. More tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Know Your Opponent: Marquette Golden Eagles edition

The Bearcats are on their last homestand of the season, and host the Marquette Golden Eagles Sunday at 2. The game is on FSN Ohio and ESPN full court and probably 360. UC is coming off a bad loss against South Florida, and Marquette is coming off a tough loss against Pittsburgh. UC is 15-10, 6-7, and the Eagles are 16-9, 7-6. This is the only time the former Conference USA rivals meet in the regular season, and it could not come at a more pivotal time for both. Both teams are fighting for their NCAA tournament lives, and also fighting to get a bye in the Big East tournament. Cincinnati really needs this game to get some momentum as they roll down the stretch. Marquette is trying to make their case after they got off to a slow start to the conference season. We know how big this one is, so let's jump into the breakdown. For your Marquette needs, visit our good friends Cracked Sidewalks. They do a great job.

Friday, February 19, 2010

UC Notes

This edition of UC notes are not just notes, but they also come with further elaboration by yours truly. Does this mean that I couldn't think of anything great to write about today? No, and how dare you for suggesting it. I have plenty to talk about thank you very much. Today just feels like a note day, as we all try to make it through the day and into the weekend.

A bit of housekeeping, Know Your Opponent: Marquette Golden Eagles edition, is going up tomorrow afternoon at some point. It will definitely be up Sunday morning for all of you to check out before the biggest game of the season. Marquette dropped a tough one to Pitt last night, and they are looking to regroup. I don't really know how this game is going to play out, but I really hope that UC can get this one. DePaul isn't going to cut it for a nice win this late in the year.

That brings me to this thought. Fans, students, other people, please show up for the game Sunday. UC averages less fans than freaking DePaul. That is unheard of when UC actually has a good team. The crowd was there against Syracuse, and the guys really need the support on Sunday. We all know that the South Florida game was a gallon of suck, and that's why we as UC fans need to rally. We can either go down the road of idiotically wanting the team to lose every game so Mick can be fired, or we can go down the road where we fill 5/3 the last few home games and give UC an advantage as they try to win out. That was a really long sentence. People used to hate coming into the Shoe, and that's what we need to bring back. Don't go all Kentucky fan now.

A couple people have written about Deonta Vaughn's slumping, and I really wanted to throw in my 2 cents. Deonta has only had 1 game this over shooting over 70% (Pitt), and that doubles as his only game over 60% on the season. He's currently riding a stretch where he hasn't broken 40% in 6 games. He had a streak like that last season. But last year, he got to the line 0 times, 11 times making 8, 8 times making 7, 0 times, and 22 times, making 19 against UConn. Deonta has lost his ability to take over games. To me, he seems too complacent to let  Lance take over, or let Cashmere Wright take over. It's really odd seeing the Alpha dog for the last few years take a back seat to others. Deonta took over the USF game wayyyyy too late, and one would have to think that the #5 of years past would have taken over in the middle of the second half. I hope the switch flipped at the end of that game, because we need Deonta to play well.

The Bearcats made an offer to 5* running back Jameel Poteat. Poteat has offers from USC and Florida and will soon get them from everyone. I know absolutely nothing about Jameel, but I'm sure that he's good in high school. It's really refreshing to see Cincinnati take a stab at a big time national prospect.

Andy Staples put TE Ben Guidugli on his 2* All Star team over at a SI. I don't really have a thought on this, but I found it nice to see that a Bearcat was honored here.

Shout out to Cincinnati swimmer Josh Schneider who tied an NCAA mark by hitting 19.08 in the 50 free. Josh also kicked more ass when he won the next race with a 19.10. Could he be an Olympian? I don't know, but he can swim really fast. If Josh does become an Olympian and wins a medal, he is now obligated to come to Bearcats Blog HQ, and stage an Olympic style ceremony in which I get to wear his medal. That sounds like a plan to me.

Bill Koch  wrote a story about Yancy Gates needing to be more consistent. It's a good story blah, blah, blah, but one that should have been written about 2 weeks ago. We have 5 games left, Yancy needs to be a monster. His averages are similar to last year, 10, 6.4 as a frosh, 10.6, 6.1 this year. I think a lot of that has to do with 2 things.

  1. He doesn't play hard every game. He knows it, Mick knows it, you know it, I know it. It's too late in the season for this behavior. Especially when you no show crucial road games.
  2. We run no half court plays for him. Yancy and Ibrahima Thomas get 75% of their shots off offensive rebounds. Same with Toyloy. That's one of the maddening things about Mick Cronin. We have a big man who can dominate. We have guards who can take over. Yet, our halfcourt offense is standing around. Run some plays man. There is a third thing. 
  3. Our guards never look inside, and I'm pretty sure they don't know how to throw an entry pass. That's on the guards, and that's on Mick and the coaches as well. Again, too late in the year for this shit that should have been done in October. 
Finally, Andy Katz has an interview with Mick. There is bubble talk and all that nonsense. I suggest watching it.

And with that, we are done. Be on the look out for the Marquette preview, and maybe some other things. Thanks for the link Bearcats Lair, you are all very handsome and nice. Thanks very much for reading, especially those of you in Iceland.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open letter to Mick Cronin

Dear Mick,
Hey there, what's goin' on? I liked the tie you wore in the Louisville game. I am a fan of yours. Thought you did a good job at Murray State. I wanted you to get the job when it was clear Andy Kennedy wasn't coming back. I was, and am, fully willing to give you the benefit of the doubt because you wanted to come back to Cincinnati and be the man to get us back to the top. You have gotten some good recruits to come to Cincinnati, like Cashmere Wright, Yancy Gates, Lance Stephenson, and Deonta Vaughn. You got a high profile transfer, Ibrahima Thomas. You have the team in contention for an NCAA tournament bid. You have brought expectations back to Cincinnati basketball. For that, I thank you. Despite what some Cincinnati 'fans' have said, you absolutely deserve more time to build the program. I mean, hello idiots, we're in the mix for Marquis Teague. Our team is comprised of freshmen, Stephenson, Wright, Parker, sophomores, Gates, Dion Dixon, a transfer who has played like 5 years of basketball, Thomas, a Juco, Toyloy and couple of juniors, Bishop, Davis, Wilks, and Vaughn. I'm baffled that UC fans, who didn't give a shit at the start of the year, are rooting for the team to tank so you get fired. Look at the big picture people. I bet half of them can't name a player besides Vaughn who played on UC Mick's first year. With my support clearly on your side, I do have a problem with something that you have said.

After the disappointing South Florida let down, you said "They had to win." On the surface, that's not so bad. Plenty of coaches say that after games. The problem is, that you have said that after the UAB, Seton Hall, St John's, Louisville, Notre Dame, and now USF losses. UC no showed UAB, Notre Dame, and despite what you say, USF. UC had 33 points with 6 minutes left, and 4 assists, not a whole lot of caring. Louisville, and Seton Hall had UC build up early leads, then get dominated to close the first half, and beat in the second. The St John's game was the only different loss, because UC had no idea how to execute down the stretch. What I'm getting at, is when is our time to win? Was it the 17 point beatdown against Syrcause? Is it Sunday against Marquette? Was it UConn? UC is 15-10, and now 6-7 in the Big East. The time for winning has to be soon. At some point, the effort on the road has to change. UC goes to West Virginia and Georgetown to close the year, and I'd rather not be embarrassed again.

More importantly, UC plays Marquette Sunday. Last season, Marquette beat UC 800-50 if I remember correctly. It's become the most important game of the season, regardless of what Marquette does tonight at Pittsburgh. Cincinnati could go from playing for their NCAA tournament lives, to playing for their CBI lives due to this game. You have to get the guys to play a complete game. We've played 3/4s a complete game this month, and that's not good enough. Your teams have faded every year you've been here, and this is the year that you need to right the ship. You need to come up with some offensive gameplan that allows UC to not stand around and watch Wright, Stephenson, and Wright dribble for 25 seconds, and allows UC too look like they've played half court offense in their lives. I'm not asking for a ton here Mick. I'm just asking that you,

  1. Have the team play hard a full 40 minutes against Marquette and for the rest of the season.
  2. Implement an offense in the 4 days of practice the team has had since South Florida.
  3. Get the team to pass the ball to each other.
  4. Not say that the other team needed it more if we lose again this season
None of that should be too hard to do, besides the passing. You can't play the games, but you set the attitude for the team. It's on you now Mick, let's get the job done.

Bearcats Blog

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

South Florida 65 Cincinnati 57

(Tampa Tribune/Chris Urso)

In another typical dismal road effort, the South Florida Bulls (16-9, 6-7) beat down the Cincinnati Bearcats (15-10, 6-7) 65-57. And it wasn't even that close. I was optimistic that this team had turned the road corner, and thought that this late in the season, 2 weeks after getting humiliated on the road against Notre Dame, that Cincinnati would have the road woes straightened out. Turns out, I was wrong. The Bearcats had a late flurry to cut the margin to something a more respectable. I am on the record of saying that we shouldn't look ahead, and I'm keeping with that. Sunday afternoon against Marquette is the biggest game of the season. It's not a must win because the season isn't on the line, but it's the next closest thing. Let's not skim over this one though, as nice as that would be. First off, South Florida played hard, and made all the plays necessary to win. Their zone had UC baffled, and they made shots. I hope that they can string together another streak, and make a run at the NCAAs. It's the underdog champion in me. The Bulls were lead by, of course, Dominique Jones. Jones poured in 26 on just 12 shots, because he made 10-12 free throws. He also had 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Mike Mercer had 12-2 steals. Augustus Gilchrist (pictured) was rusty in his second game back, but had 10-6. Anthony Crater had 9 off the bench. Chris Howard had 4 points, but 7 assists. The other 4 were scored by Toarlyn Fitzpatrick. UC was lead by Deonta Vaughn. The senior scored most of his points late, and finished with 14-2 assists-2 steals. Cashmere Wright had 14, 11 in the second half, and 5 boards. Ibrahima Thomas had 5-7 rebounds, but every board in the first half. Darnell Wilks had 5 in garbage time. Rashad Bishop put in 6. Lance Stephenson scored 4, all coming early, and only played 20 minutes. Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates had 3, Jaquan Parker 2, and Steve Toyloy 1 to go with 5 rebounds. 

The first 12 minutes set basketball back 80 years, as AstroBull kindly said on twitter. The game started with a jumper by Stephenson, and a 3 by Jones. The 2 trash talked nearly the whole first half. Rashad Bishop made a jumper, and USF got 1 free throw from Chris Howard and 1 from Jones to take a 5-4 at 15:45. Cashmere Wright scored off a lay up out of the timeout. The teams went into a prolonged slump. UC missed bunnies, and USF missed mainly jumpers. There were shot clock violations, airballs, wild passes and a couple turnovers. USF scored at the 13 minute mark with a Mike Mercer j, that was quickly answered with Yancy Gates' only basket. Steve Toyloy threw a pass right to Anthony Crater, who scored a lay up. The 9-8 score at 11:15 was highlighted by UC going 4-14, 0-3, 0-2 at the stripe, and USF going 3-7, 1-2, 2-4 with 3 turnovers. It was worse than it looks. Crater scored again after the break, leading to a pathetic sequence. Gates would be blocked by Alex Rivas, USF turnover, UC turnover, Gus Gilchrist had a great upfake, losing Thomas, but blew the dunk, and Dion Dixon dropped the rebound out of bounds. Dom Jones scored after that. Deonta Vaughn stepped on the timeline for a turnover, USF threw away the inbound pass, Jaquan Parker traveled, and Lance Stephenson couldn't grab a rebound and flipped the ball right to Anthony Crater, who passed to Mike Mercer for 3. Truly terrible basketball. UC went from the 12:29 mark to 7:10 without a basket before Jaquan Parker scored a lay up. At the 6:54 break, it was 15-10. Out of the break, 20% 3 shooter Mercer would hit another trey. UC went zone after this for I believe the rest of the game. UC got the points back on an Ibrahima Thomas basket and foul. Lance hit 2 free throws to make it a 3 point game, 18-15. USF got the next 4 on a Mercer j from the elbow, and 2 Jones free throws. UC went on a 7 point run with a Toyloy free throw, a Vaughn 3, a Thomas j and a Cash free throw to tie the score at 22. Crater made the last field goal of the half, and Gates scored the last point of the half on a free throw, giving us a 24-23 score. UC was 8-24, 1-6, a horrible 6-13, with 15 rebounds, 8 offensive, and 6 turnovers. They were lead by Thomas 5-7(5 offensive) Lance 4, 2 fouls, 3 Vaughn, Gates, Wright, 2 Parker, 1 Toyloy. USF was 9-23, 2-6, 4-6, 15 rebounds 5 offensive, 7 turnovers. Lead by Mercer 9, Jones 7-4, Crater 6, Howard 2-4 assists.

USF jumped on UC right from the whistle to start the half. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick scored the first non-guard points for USF. Gilchrist nailed a 3, probably the shot pictured, causing a UC timeout. Jones would hit a jumper, and get a steal from Gates into a break away lay up that put him 5th all time in USF scoring, and the Bulls up 10 at the 15:52 mark. UC's possessions were  
  1. A Mercer steal of Stephenson
  2. Stephenson taking a bad shot, followed by a Thomas missed put back
  3. Vaughn throwing away the inbound pass after the timeout at 17:51
  4. An offensive foul by Ibrahima
  5. A Stephenson turnover
  6. A Vaughn airball
Cash came out of the break with a lay up off a Gates steal for the Cats first basket of the half at 15:30. UC hadn't scored a field goal in 6:30 of game time, and had just 1 point in that frame. Jones hit 1 of 2 at the line at 15:25 and more ugliness set in. Stephenson and Jones threw away passes. Cash took a wild lay up that hit the top of the backboard. USF would travel. Dixon and Gates would miss. Jones would miss. Deonta Vaughn missed a lay up that started a USF breakout for Crater to put USF up 11, 36-25 at 12:50. Cash would bank home a runner for UC's second basket of the half, but the zone defense was broken for a wide open dunk for Gilchrist off a Howard pass. Dion Dixon came down and threw a pass right to Alex Rivas. Fitzpatrick would draw a foul for USF, and it was a 38-27 game with 11:27 left. The teams combined for 24 turnovers at this point. Fitzpatrick made both the free throws off the timeout for a 13 point lead. Dixon hit a jumper from the elbow for UC, but USF got the points back off free throws. Mercer hit only 1 of 2, but Gates dropped the rebound out of bounds. Jones,fouled on the inbound play, made 1 of 2. He got hot with that. He hit a jumper, 2 free throws, and a press breaking lay up around a made free throw by Dixon and Wright. The lead was 18. UC had a mini-run, with a Bishop dunk, Wright put back, Bishop jumper, and a Dixon steal where he went to the floor to flip the ball to Wright for a lay up. USF had a Gilchrist free throw after the Bishop dunk. UC blew a couple of chances to make things interesting quickly. Wright got a steal, but threw the ball away. Wright got a rebound off a subsequent Jones missed 3, sent an outlet to a cherry picking Ibrahima Thomas, but Thomas lost the ball while waiting for a flying USF player to go by before he went for his lay up. That sequence was fitting of the blown opportunities. At 3:44, it was 50-39. Crater fired a pass to Howard, who hit a reverse lay up, out of the break. Vaughn, who finally woke up, hit 2 free throws, then Gilchrist hit 2 fts, then Vaughn made a lay up and drew a foul for a 54-44 score with 2:44 left. USF broke the UC press easily with a Crater to Mercer lay up. Vaughn was fouled and hit 1 of 2. Dominique Jones dribbled out nearly the whole shot clock, and managed to shake Dixon for an open 3 that sent up a big "USF" chant from the crowd. The game ended with a Gilchrist dunk from a Jones pass off a press break, 2 Vaughn free throws, 1 Crater free throw, 2 Wright fts, 2 Jones fts, a Darnell Wilks 3, 1 Jones ft, and a Wilks put back.

UC shot 19-49, 3-11, 16-26, grabbing 28 rebounds, 14 offensive, with FOUR assists against 15 turnovers. USF was 21-43, 4-10, 19-26, with 23 boards, 8 offensive, 13 assists, 15 turnovers. 

All in all, a truly awful UC performance. At no point in the second half did anyone but the most homeriffic UC fan think they had a chance to win. There was no fire. There was no determination. No one stepped up when the going was tough and made things happen. Deonta scored 9 straight at the end, but come on man, you need to do that in the middle of the game. Where was that at the 12 minute mark? UC got nothing from the front court, nothing from Lance. Cash played well off the bench, which was the only positive. Thomas rebounded well in the first half, which is half a positive. I want to talk about what Mick said after the game, but that might come later today or Thursday. 

2 final thoughts. 
1. I don't know what kind of offense this team runs. A new assistant needs to be hired in the offseason to install an offense. Guys standing around dribbling doesn't work. No one looks inside. No one looks for anyone off the wing. Everyone looks out for themselves. 4 fucking assists is pathetic. This team can't shoot, so maybe that had something to do with it, but share the ball.

2. I don't know what kind of mental toughness this team has. They pretty much folded, besides an 8-1 run when USF took the foot off the pedal. They don't show up on the road for 40 minutes. UAB, Notre Dame, and last night were no shows. Seton Hall, St John's, and Louisville were partial efforts. But, all 6 of those games were losses. The only road game they played tough in the whole way though was Xavier. And in that game, like St John's, they couldn't close out a late lead and blew it. I really don't know what this team is. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bulls Batter Bearcats

Dominique Jones (pictured) scored 26 points and had 5 rebounds as South Florida beat Cincinnati 65-57. The Bulls built an 18 point lead in the second half against a rather disinterested Bearcats team before letting up at the end. The game was incredibly ugly. UC was 19-49, 3-11, and a disgusting 16-26 at the stripe. Deonta Vaughn finished with 14, most coming late as he had 9 in a row near the end, as did Cashmere Wright. UC had 14 offensive rebounds, but couldn't make many shots off those. South Florida shot 21-43, 4-10, and  19-26. The Bulls and Bearcats combined for 32 turnovers, both 16. The score at the half was 24-23 USF, and UC didn't show up to start the second. USF scored 21 of the first 27, and that was basically your ball game. A terrible effort at a time where we can't afford them. UC is 15-10, 6-7. South Florida is 16-9, 6-7. Congratulations to the Bulls, they played hard and deserved it. More tomorrow.

Know Your Opponent: South Florida Bulls edition

Tonight on ESPNU at 7, the 15-9, 6-6 UC Bearcats hit the road again, this time to Tampa, Florida to play the host 15-9, 5-7 South Florida Bulls. This is the final of the mirror games for Cincinnati, and another sweep would be perfect. The Cats took care of the Bulls 78-70 January 20. Lance Stephenson was injured, causing Jaquan Parker to start and have a career day, going for 15-4-5 in 35 minutes. Parker has played 45 minutes since, and scored 10 points, and probably won't get any minutes tonight. That's a shame. Deonta Vaughn went off for 20. UC shot 56% for the game. The Cats held dynamo guard Dominique Jones to 21 points, and it took him 19 shots to get there. But, as you should have seen in the Q&A with AstroBull, USF isn't the same team. They have won 4 of 6, including wins over Georgetown and Pittsburgh, and get big man Augustus Gilchrist back. For the sake of not spelling that out every time, I'm calling him Gus. Cavalier, I know. The Bearcats are coming off their best road half since maybe the Xavier game. The Bulls have won their last 3 at home, but are just 8-3 for the season. How will this shake out? Let's look inside the numbers. But first, check out Voodoo 5 for all your USF needs, and an interview with me that USF Athletics said on twitter was "interesting," and "context for tonight." Also, check out my interview with him that CNati said "was a good interview that gave a nice state of the Bulls." You're welcome America. Numbers, predictions now.

Questions and Answers: Starring AstroBull from Voodoo 5

(All female USF fans are this)

With a pivotal game with South Florida on the docket for later tonight, AstroBull and I thought it would be great to swap some questions about the teams. AstroBull writes the excellent Voodoo5, which has been fun to read with USF playing well. Sure enough, I answered some of his questions right here. He asked some great questions. Here are my amazing questions to him, with his even more amazing answers.

BearcatsBlog: Dominique Jones seems to have slowed down lately. Has he hit the wall, had a slump, getting tired? 

AstroBull: I think its teams figuring what what we can't do, which is the inability of shooting the ball from deep. Teams are collapsing on defense when we drive to the basket, forcing a pass out to Anthony Crater or Mike Mercer to shoot, but they can't do it consistently. Gilchrist coming back will scare some teams out of this as he is our best shooter, but teams are going to be content on making everyone but Jones beat them on a nightly basis. 

BB: Gus Gilchrist recently returned from injury. How did he look against Marquette? What can we expect from him?

AB:Coach Heath said that Gus was going at about 80% on Saturday, and it showed a little bit. He looked pretty good on the offensive end, but was a little slow defensively trying to guard the quicker forwards of Marquettte. He will probably get 20-25 minutes like he did on Saturday, and he should do a better job defensively against Toyloy and Gates. Offensively he just needs to hit the open shot when it gets to him and things will be all good.

BB:South Florida has dropped a couple on the road after their 4 game win streak. Do you think they have enough in the tank to finish the season strong?

AB: God I hope so. Having Gilchrist will be huge down the stretch, but I think the biggest thing is having 4 of the final 6 games at home. Even one of our away games is DePaul, so its a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way. Connecticut at home to end the season will be a big one if both teams are still alive for a NCAA bid.

BB: Besides Jones, who should we look out for in the game?

AB: I think you have to keep an eye on Gilchrist. He will make Gates or Toyloy play away from the basket, which should hopefully free up the lane for Jones or Mercer. At 6'11 he has the best shot on the team, including Jones. If the bigs play off of him a little when he is at the top of the key, he will make them pay all night long. The magic
number for him will be 15 points. If he get to 15 then I think the Bulls will win this one.

BB: How much fun has this season been after years of struggling?

AB: Words can not describe how happy I am for the basketball team. I've been following the team since 2003, and to finally see the team even in consideration for an NCAA bid has been huge. Seeing the big donor seats three-quarters empty for games was embarrassing. Student turnout was horrendous, as I could walk into the student section seconds before tip off and get a first row seat. People are finally starting to talk about the basketball team for the first time in ages. That alone makes this season a success. If an NCAA big comes out of it that is awesome, but even a trip to the NIT gets the ball rolling for next season.

100 thanks to AstroBull for answering my questions, and for giving such great answers. I'm pulling for South Florida to win the rest of the their games after we (hopefully) destroy them tonight. Visit Voodoo 5, it's great, and I'll be linking to it later in the Know Your Opponent preview, so click on it lots of times.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cincinnati 60 Connecticut 48


The Cincinnati Bearcats improved to 15-9, 6-6, by sweeping the season series against the Connecticut Huskies Saturday afternoon. UConn fell to 14-11, 4-8, and look to have their backs to the wall just regarding a winning season despite Jim Calhoun's return to the bench. This was the type of game that the Bearcats haven't had on the road all year. The second half, they came out wanting to win and put UConn to shame, and for the most part, they did. I would say it was their best road performance since Xavier. It was something that Cincinnati badly needed as we head down the stretch of the season. Lance Stephenson lead UC, just like he did the first time they played, with 14-5. Ibrahima Thomas had his best game as a Bearcat, putting up a 10-11 double double. Deonta Vaughn had 10-4 assists, and Rashad Bishop had 7-7. UConn was lead by Kemba Walker's 14. Calhoun said after the game that Walker was the only player who played hard. Jerome Dyson had 13, but was 5-16 in doing so. Stanley Robinson had 10-9, with all 10 coming in the first half. Gavin Edwards threw in a solid 10-7-2 blocks-3 steals performance off the bench. Let's go back and see how this played out.

The game was in the XL Center in Hartford, a place so bad that UConn fans hate it. The game started off really slow. Rashad Bishop made the first 2, followed minutes later by a Lance Stephenson 2 that drew a Calhoun timeout 2:30 in. No one would score before Stanley Robinson scored for UConn at the 15:18 mark. Yeah, 5 minutes with 3 baskets. The next few minutes would see buckets from Stephenson, and Gates for UC, and Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson's only 3 of the game, and UC lead 9-7 at 11:51. UConn would go on a run. Kemba Walker hit a 3, and 2 free throws, and Ibrahima Thomas was stripped by Donnell Beverly, who outleted to Stanley Robinson for a dunk. UConn held the 14-9 advantage to the under 8 timeout. The teams would trade baskets at a slow, and leisurely pace when they weren't turning the ball over or taking wild jump shots. Deonta Vaughn made his only 3, and Stephenson and Steve Toyloy scored for UC, while Gavin Edwards and Robinson would score for UConn. The Huskies seemed to gather the momentum on a big play. Yancy Gates telegraphed a pass towards Bishop that Stanley Robinson picked off. Robinson drove down the floor with Bishop in front of him, before crossing him over for a dunk and a foul and an "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Robinson missed the foul shot, but UConn held a 20-14 lead. UC would go on an 8-2 run to close out the half. Ibrahima Thomas hit a 3, and Deonta Vaughn got a traditional 3 point play around a Robinson jumper, and Darnell Wilks scored his only 2 on his only shot in his only minute to tie the score at 22 with 1:35. That's the way the half would end. UC's points came from Vaughn's 6, Stephenson's 4, Thomas' 3, Gates , Toyloy, and Bishop's 2, and Cashmere Wright made a free throw. UConn was lead by Robinson's 10, Dyson's 7, Walker's 3, and Edwards' 2. UC was 9-31, 2-10 from 3, 2-7 free throws, with 19 boards 10 offensive, and 6 turnovers. UConn was 9-22, 2-7, 2-3, with 14 boards 4 offensive, and 9 turnovers. Yes, the half was very ugly.

Whatever Mick Cronin said in the locker room at halftime worked, because UC came out strong. Rashad Bishop drew a foul and made a free throw 20 seconds in for an advantage UC wouldn't give up. Lance Stephenson hit a jumper, a 3 pointer, and assisted Ibrahima Thomas for a bucket and UC lead 30-23. UConn got an Edwards free throw in that span. UConn would get free throws from Dyson to cut the lead to 5 before UC would continue to score. Deonta Vaughn missed a shot as the shot clock was winding down, but stripped the rebounder and fed Thomas for 2 more. Rashad Bishop rattled home a j, and just like that, UC was on a 12-3 run. Ending the first half on an 8-2 run and starting the next with a 12-3 run is something we haven't seen from UC in a while. UC lead 34-25 at 15:13 while shooting 5-10 on the half, while UConn was 0-7. After the break, the teams went cold. No scoring, but lots of turnovers, until Rashad Bishop got a steal from Edwards and made both free throws after drawing a foul. UConn got their first basket of the half after the under 12 timeout, when Edwards scored at 11:30 to make the score 36-27. That's right, UConn didn't make a field goal for 8:30 after going 4:40 in the first half without scoring. Great defense by UC, but horrible half court offense by UConn. UC's half court offense was terrible as well, because they could have been blowing UConn out if they ran plays, but that's neither here nor there. UC jumped right back on the Huskies with a Gates put back and Stephenson free throws after pulling home an offensive rebound, for a 13 point lead. The rebounding was great in this game. UC controlled the offensive, and defensive glass, and controlled the game. Beverly and Gates traded 1 made free throw, as the teams traded baskets by Walker, Thomas, and Edwards out of transition after the Thomas lay up. Dion Dixon, my best friend, scored his first points in 4 games by going strong to the rim. Walker hit a 3 for UConn, pulling the margin to 10 with 5:47 on the clock. Dixon would back down and hit a fade away over Stanley Robinson, and on the next possession, Steve Toyloy scored a put back, after Thomas missed a put back, after Vaughn missed a shot clock induced rushed 3. UC lead 49-35 with 3:59 left. The Toyloy rebound was UC's 17th, and final, offensive rebound of the game. Dominating effort by the bigs. Toyloy had 8 rebounds, 5 offensive. 4 of Thomas' 11 boards were offensive. After the break, Dion Dixon went strong to the rack again to give UC a 51-36 lead, which would prove to be important because UConn had a run in them. Jerome Dyson made a jumper, and UConn got a steal by Edwards from Bishop and Walker was fouled. Walker hit 1 of 2, and on UC's next possession, Stephenson would get fouled and hit 1 of 2. With 2:20 left down 13, Dyson made a lay up, drew a foul, but missed the free throw. But, he would steal the rebound from Lance and Gavin Edwards would get fouled. He hit 1 of 2. UC couldn't get the ball over half court due to UConn's pressure, and Dyson got another steal and lay up. It was 52-44 with 1:56 left and visions of St John's dancing in every UC fans, especially this one's, heads. UC finally got the ball over halfcourt, but it was because they threw it away. Dyson would draw a foul on Vaughn, but missed both free throws. If UConn made all their free throws in this stretch, who knows what would have happened, because Vaughn turned the ball over for a Dyson lay up and a 6 point game. UC finally got the ball over halfcourt at 1:15, a full minute of game time with only getting the ball over for like a second. Deonta Vaughn would hit a pair of freebies. Edwards got a lay up for UConn, making the score 54-48 with 1:07 left, and as you can see, that was the last UConn bucket. Vaughn hit 2 more free throws, got a steal from Edwards and hit Lance with an outlet pass for a Stephenson icing lay up. Ibrahima Thomas and Cashmere Wright both hit 1 of 2 at the line, and that's how we got the final.

UC shot 21-56 for 35%, 3-17 17%, and 15-25 60%. Thomas was 1-6 at the line, Cash 2-4 in disappointing efforts. UC had 41 boards, 17 offensive, and 14 turnovers. As for the Huskies, they shot 18-52 35%, 3-15 20%, and 9-18 50%. They pulled down 29 rebounds, 12 offensive, and had 15 turnovers. My prediction of less than 7 made 3s was right on the money. Neither team shot anywhere near a good percentage. Both play good to great defense, but damn are they bad to horrible on offense. Especially in the half court.

There were lots of good things to see in this game. Lance Stephenson played great. Ibrahima Thomas proved to be a force. Steve Toyloy got his hands on lots of rebounds. Rashad Bishop played well on offense and locked down Stanley Robinson in the second half. And Dion Dixon, did I mention he was my best friend, played like he had at the beginning of the year when he was playing well. As for the bad, we got nothing from Cash Wright. Deonta Vaughn has lost his jump shot, another 2-8 effort. Yancy Gates was nowhere to be seen, just 5-5. But, some of us saw that coming in their preview. The end of the game mini disaster was not fun to watch.

 The effort in the first half was so bad, both ways, that Calhoun said neither team wanted to win. Well in the second half, UC wanted to win. It's going to take an effort like that tomorrow night, as UC travels to Tampa to play the rematch against South Florida.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bearcats rebound against Connecticut

The Bearcats got back to .500 in the Big East with a 60-48 win over UConn in Hartford. The Bearcats are now 15-9, 6-6, while UConn is 14-11, 4-8. Jim Calhoun's return to the sideline was the only thing that the Hartford crowd cheered for. The Bearcats had much more to cheer for, as they played a fantastic second half in pulling away. Lance Stephenson lead the way with 14 points, and lead the way by helping UC break a 22-22 halftime tie into a 9 point lead UC would never relinquish. Deonta Vaughn had 10 points, 4 assists, but the surprise star was Ibrahima Thomas. Ibrahima put up a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. My best friend Dion Dixon returned from the dead with 6 points, looking strong taking the ball to the rim and keeping UC ahead. The Huskies were lead by Kemba Walker's 14. Jerome Dyson had 13, and Stanley Robinson scored 10, all in the first half, to go with 9 boards. The Bearcats rebounded the ball very well, holding UConn to 1 shot most of the time, and getting a lot of offensive rebounds. UC had 41 boards on the day, 17 offensive. Steve Toyloy had 8, 5 offensive, Rashad Bishop 7, and Yancy Gates 5. This was a great win for the Bearcats, mainly because it came on the road. Let's take the rest of the weekend to enjoy this one.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Know Your Opponent: Connecticut Huskies edition

Tomorrow at high noon, the 14-9, 5-6, Cincinnati Bearcats take to the scenic streets of Storrs, Connecticut to take on the 14-10, 4-7, Connecticut Huskies. Both teams are coming off losses to Syracuse, UConn's in less dominating fashion Wednesday. This is the second meetings of the UC's this season. The Bearcats pulled off a 71-69 victory thanks to a beneficial call in the closing seconds leading to Lance Stephenson sticking in a pair of free throws for the W. Lance Stephenson exploded on UConn to the tune of 21 points. Deonta Vaughn went for 17-5-5, Ibrahima Thomas had 6-9-3 blocks, and Larry Davis had 9. The Huskies were powered by 24 from Jerome Dyson, along with 7 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 20 from Stanley Robinson. UC blew a 12 point lead in the second half of that game, and Kemba Walker hit a 3 to tie the score with 9.4 seconds left.

 Just like the first meeting, Jim Calhoun is coaching the Huskies. Calhoun took a medical leave for 7 games, in which UConn went 3-4. I asked the highly esteemed what impact they thought Calhoun had coming back for Saturday, and the rest of the season.

Two things I think the Huskies have working for them Saturday, and the rest of the way, are, Calhoun's return and the emotional lift it will provide...and the "us against the world" mentality the team will have, following what I consider to be some "questionable" officiating in Syracuse. Calhoun is the motivator, Blaney is the good cop. Calhoun's return is probably a game later than ideal, but is still well timed. 7 Big East games remaining, the Huskies must go 5-2 to get back to .500 in the league. It's all hands on deck from here on out. No excuses.

 Along with, is a great place for UConn news and views. This is a pivotal game for both teams, as you could see on both of their sites, because neither can afford to take on more losses. Let's take a look at how the teams match up this time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jim Calhoun returning the sidelines for UConn Saturday

(Pictured: Jim Calhoun)

News broke this afternoon that the coach of the Connecticut Huskies is returning to the sidelines Saturday. The press release and more can be found at our friends the UConn Blog's site.  As if the game in Storrs wasn't big enough, the return of Calhoun should rile up the crowd and the UConn players. Connecticut has been in the tank lately, sporting a 14-10 record and are 4-7 in conference. UConn was 3-4 in Calhoun's 7 game absence. We knew this one would be tough, and the tough just got tougher for the Big East tilt at high noon Saturday. 

The Bench

Because everyone and their sister wrote about Deonta Vaughn struggling yesterday (I'm looking at you Mike DeCoursey and the Enquirer), I decided to write about the bench play. With Vaughn struggling, and Lance Stepheson being handcuffed at times, who is picking up their slack off the pine?

The best way to do this is to break down every game and see how well the bench played statistically. We are just breaking down UC's bench, not the starters. The opponent numbers are just bench numbers, no starters. I got all the box scores from ESPN, so if they are wrong with who started, it's their fault. The high is for the bench high, not the game high. Keep that in mind. This is long, so there is a jump.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010 Cincinnati Bearcats Football schedule

Here it is folks, the 2010 UC football schedule. The Bearcats play in 2 ESPN games, 1 ESPN2 game, and one of ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2. That's not counting the Oklahoma game, which will probably be a regional ABC game. I'm not a huge fan of Friday night games, and we play 2 back to back against Louisville and South Florida. I guess any way for the Big East to get on tv. The 3 of the first 4 look pretty tough. Hopefully we will see College Gameday in Cincinnati for the OU game. A boy can dream. Fire away with your thoughts in the comments.

Sat., Sept. 4 at Fresno State
Sat., Sept. 11 Indiana State
Thurs., Sept. 16 at NC State 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Sat., Sept. 25 Oklahoma (Paul Brown Stadium)
Sat., Oct. 2 BYE
Sat., Oct. 9 Miami (OH)
Fri., Oct. 15 at Louisville* 8 p.m. ESPN
Fri., Oct. 22 USF* 8 p.m. ESPN2
Sat., Oct. 30 Syracuse *
Sat., Nov. 6 BYE
Sat., Nov. 13 at West Virginia*
Sat., Nov. 20 Rutgers*
Sat., Nov. 27 at Connecticut*
Sat., Dec. 4 Pittsburgh* ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
*- BIG EAST Conference Game; All times Eastern and subject to change;

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Questions and Answers

UC doesn't tip off until Saturday, and in the meantime, I'll answer all the burning questions about UC and other things. Mainly UC things since this is a Cincinnati Bearcats blog. Maybe THE Cincinnati blog. After all, former Cincinnati great DeJuan Gossett follows us on twitter. DeJuan is 9th in tackles in UC history, and 2nd in solo tackles. He has incredible taste in who to follow on twitter. What does this have to do with questions? Shut up jerk, we're getting to that right now.

What are the odds that Cincinnati goes to the NCAA tournament?

Look, it's only February. We have many more games left in the regular season, and the Big East tournament. Anything can happen in New York City. I'm at the point where I'm getting a little tired of the negativity. Instead of looking at the schedule and counting the losses, we are going to look one game at a time. We need to chill.

You have said that Mick Cronin has had the pressure start to build under him. Does he make it through the off season if UC doesn't play in the Big Dance?

I'm going to say yes. UC would have to finish .500 or worse for there to be any justifiable reason for Mick to go. He came to UC with nothing. He has built UC to a contender for the tournament. Some of the fan expectations are a little too high, because there was nothing here 4 years ago. That said, Mick hasn't won a single game in March, including a disgusting loss against DePaul in the Big East tournament. The offense is absolutely awful. It needs to be changed next season. Hell, it needs to be changed tomorrow. Some people are questioning UC's conditioning. But, I think if UC is close to the tournament and end up in the NIT, he deserves to come back.

Speaking of leaving, what are the chances Lance Stephenson hangs around next year?

I think Born Ready is 70-30 to coming back. His jump shot has been horrible, especially from 3. That type of thing is going to keep him a little low on draft boards. Lance passes really well, and has started vacuuming up rebounds. The big problem lately has been Lance not getting himself involved in the offense all 40 minutes. He disappeared against Louisville, and he disappeared yesterday. We need 33 to be the player we know he is the whole game.

What's up with Deonta Vaughn? 

Nothing, he's chillin. But really. It's interesting that you asked that, because coming tomorrow, we are going to break down what's up with Deonta Vaughn. It's your lucky day.

Are any Bearcats going to the NFL combine?

Yes. Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard were invited, and you can watch them run, and catch and throw on the NFL Network in a couple weeks. I know I won't.

Are the Bearcats going to be on ESPN next football season?

At least once. The Bearcats are traveling to North Carolina State on Thursday, September 13 for a nationally televised showdown. In the last 4 seasons, UC hasn't lost on ESPN Thursday night. UC beat USF twice, and Oregon State once. Hopefully they are on more national games this season. They do play Oklahoma, so that will be on ABC or something.

It's Rivalry Week on the 4 letter, what do you think the best Big East rivalry is?

You have your Syracuse-Georgetown, Syracuse-UConn, your West Virginia-Pittsburgh, Seton Hall-Rutgers, Marquette-DePaul I guess, Louisville-Cincinnati, but I'm going to say South Florida-St John's. When I think of great Big East basketball, I think of those 2.

Be honest.

Syracuse v. Connecticut is my choice.

Back to football. How awesome is Zach Collaros going to be? 

Very awesome. Butch Jones has tons of weapons coming back on offense, with Vidal Hazelton, Collaros, Isaiah Pead, DJ Woods, Armon Binns, and what have you. The Brian Kelly Machine should roll on, but as the Butch Jones Awesome Squad. Yeah, I had nothing there, but from now on, the offense is going to be called the BJAS.

What do you think about Brian Kelly being named the Ohio football coach of the year?

Yawn, that's what I care. Why are these awards still going on? It's February. Even baseball doesn't stretch his award season as much as some of these football awards. Let's wrap this award stuff up in December, or after the national title game guys. Come on.

Was this very successful?

Hell yes it was.

Tomorrow we break down Deonta Vaughn and his up and down senior season. Thanks for reading.