The Aftermath

Picking up the Pieces


I didn’t get much sleep the night after the game. Maybe it was all the coffee I had in anticipation of Sunday night’s game or maybe it was witnessing the Bearcats Sweet Sixteen apperance get pulled out right from under them. I’m guessing it was the latter.

I watched this game at my parents house with my wife, having converted them from OSU fans after I went to UC had them just as excited as I was, ok maybe not just as excited. It was a family affair and after the Bearcats hot start we were just going through the motions like it was any other game.

I was concinced we were going to make a run in this tournament, more so than believing the sky is blue or that grass is green. That made it more surreal when the buzzer went off and we failed to hold a 22 point lead.

The Bearcats started this game in picture perfect fashion. They shot out of the gate like one of Mick’s horses and less like the team we watched several times this season stutter from the opening tip. Cumberland looked like he was well on his way to at least match his 27 from the Georgia State game.

And then it seemed like the refs took over the first half.

On more than one occasion I looked around the room wondering where in the hell was the foul there? The refs were weak. Popeye before spinach weak. They had a strict handsoff policy and if you looked at someone hard… that’s a foul.

That hurt the physical play of the Bearcats and fouls started piling up. Cumberland sat down in the first half but it was ok because Jacob Evans III took over. For the remaining 5 minutes or so in the first half JEIII had the ball and played 1 on 5. The isolation worked and led to layups for Jacob.

Honestly, I would have to watch the second half all over again to see what happened, I’ve already blacked it out from my memory but here’s what won’t fade.

Cumberland. He came to win this damn thing. He started out so aggressive on the offensive end and finished with 17. As long as he kept that up I knew we’d sprint to the finishline in this game against Nevada. What happened? Foul trouble and for some god forsaken reason when Teddy got his fourth foul you could see him, on television, plea with Cronin to stay in the game. WHY DID CRONIN LISTEN? Of course Cumberland wants to stay in the game he’s a baller!!! I think Coach gambled, hard, and lost here. Sit Cumberland for 4 or 5 minutes at least. He’s there when you need him. Oh man did we need him the last 5 minutes.

Clark. The Problem wasn’t as such this game. Nevada didn’t let Clark get an easy buckets, especially early. His first bucket was off of an offensive rebound and any other points were few and far between.

Cronin. In his post game interview a visibily pissed Mick didn’t take any responsibilty for this loss. Something I was pretty dissapointed with considering the game. Why he didn’t pull Cumberland I’ll never know or understand. Also, when they started doubling and trapping Evans before half court why was the game plan to let anyone just throw it at the rim? That offense was arguable the worst of the Cronin era. You had Clark or another big crowd the rim, drawing in his man with whoever had the ball throw it up. That’s exactly how the game ended too. Cane, dribbling it off his defender’s shin, faking, getting blocked, and then throwing it up with Gary trying to salvage his senior season with a wild snowball’s chance in hell of a rebound.

*sighs*

*Chugs beer*

Looking Forward. This was a phenomial season for the basketball Bearcats with the worst possible ending. We’ll have new banners for the New Shoe being the season and tournament champs, which is nice, but also it will be a reminder of the doom at the end.

Once I started thinking about it I would give up the season and tournament championships up for the next 20 years to make a Final Four or Championship game. I want that national attention. The swagger that comes with making it to April. Winning the AAC is cool and all but no one is talking about that now. Let Dan Hurley or Penny Hardaway win the conference, I’ll take the national title. I get what Cronin said about not caring about the Sweet Sixteen. Making it there is just a stepping stone to the next round, I don’t care about that either.

Clark, Washington, and most likely Evans will most definetly be hard to replace but the pieces to do this all over agin is there again. Broome and Cumberland will be an incredible combo next year. Cumberland could easily average 20+ and it isn’t inconvievable to have Broome average 15+. Also I think Scott huges strides forward in his development, especially on the offensive end.

I’d put Moore ahead of Williams in terms of the success of their freshmen year but both have loads of potential and will play a major roll.

I can’t wait to see Nsoseme get more minutes. I think he’s a force in training just waiting to dominate not to mention Mamoudou, who if you don’t follow on social media you’re really missing out on high quality content.

Fire Cronin. Are you insane? Cronin should be the coach for the forseeable future, some people, especially on twitter, need to chill. The program is clean, we have great players coming in and still on the upward swing. He wants to be here, which is more some schools in the Norwood area can say. It’s not like he’s pulling a Tommy T or anything.

Lift One to A Legend

#11 in your programs but #1 in your hearts, Gary Clark.

A Toast to Gary Clark


What we just witnessed was the last game of a legend. #11 in your programs but #1 in your hearts, Gary Clark. The 6′ 8″ senior out of Clayton, North Carolina has left a lasting impact on the program, one that without a doubt will not be forgotten anytime soon. Four years ago after seeing Gary play for the first time I told a group of friends that he’ll be the closest thing to Kenyon Martin we’ll see again. They shook that off like I was crazy. As the season of his senior year now over, Clark may not be as prolific but he embodies everything it means to be a Bearcat.

His hustle, grit, leadership, and all out effort has put him atop the list of favorites of fans young and old. Who can blame them? The guy is first class and someone we can all be proud to say was a Bearcat. I’m not sure there is anyone as high on Gary Clark as Coach Cronin is,

“One of the greatest kids that you’ll ever coach,” Cronin said. “Guys like Gary Clark, you can’t help but root for them.”

That’s just one of many times I’ve heard Cronin talk up what kind of person Gary Clark is off the court.

Gary Clark was considered a 4 Star recruit coming out of high school and had offers form Pitt, NC State, Maryland, and others. UC associate head coach Larry Davis is credited for finding him, although that fact is disputed, and has a pretty good story about his first encounter with Gary. In a super shortened nutshell Davis told Clark that he didn’t play hard enough to be a Bearcat and left without offering him.

Whatever happened it was for the best. Gary Clark has been a four year starter, he had no red shirt season. He showed up ready to play.

It can be said that since Clark got to Clifton the program has been on an upward trajectory but not without turbulence. Since he got here he’s experienced the loss of Coach Cronin for a season, a 1-3 record against X, early departures from the Tournament each of his first three years, and having to play his senior season at BB&T arena while The Shoemaker Center is being revamped. Clark certainly has made it is own though. Just look at what he’s accomplished at UC.

Accomplishments of Gary Clark

4 year starter

1000 point scorer

1000 rebounds

’17-’18 American Athletic Conference Tournament MVP

’17-’18 American Atheltic Conference Player of the Year

’17-’18 UNANIMOUS American Atheltic All First Team

’17-’18 American Atheltic Conference Defensive Player of the Year

’17-’18 American Atheltic Conference Sportsmanship Award winner

’15-’16 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year

’15-’16 Second Team All Conference

’16-’17 American Championship All-Tournament Team

Most Double Doubles in the Cronin era

’17-’18 American Athletic Conference Player of the week x2

#3 on the UC Rebounding list (behind only the Big O and Jack Twyman)

One thing Bearcats fans certainly enjoyed was the devleopment of Clark over his 4 years in Clifton. The stats show that for sure but he did more than just what showed up in the stats sheet.

Stats

Senior Night

Gary Clark, along with Kyle Washington and Jackson Bart, were honored before the Tulsa game on Feb 25th. It was an emotional game for fans watching Gary Clark live at home for the last time in a Bearcats uniform. The fun was thought to be spoiled after Clark picked up two quick fouls early in the first half. He sat out the rest of the half after scoring just 2 points. After halftime and the Bearcats down by three Clark took over, scoring 15 points in the second half and securing an 8 point win on senior day. Fellow senior Kyle Washington chipped in 8 points as well.

I pretty much held it together during the pregame ceremony, the TV interview with the CBSSN correspondent, and the post game presser. However, it was this interview with the voice of the Bearcats Dan Hoard and his partner Terry Nelson that choked me up. Clark starts to talk about how much it meant to him that his Dad finally made it to a game to watch him in person and got emotional, then I did too. Thankfully Dan saved us from a tear fest. Here’s that interview:

Highlights

#11 has given us plenty to get excited over the past 4 years. Here are my top 5 favorite plays from Clark.

Easily my favorite.

Here’s a 2-fer

Not today sir.

Remember when he lost a tooth at UConn?

and of course Gary Clark the hero…

The AAC Tournament ’18

Gary Clark willed the Bearcats to the championship game. His first game against SMU Clarked anchored the Bearcats once again with a double double. The next day he kept the tradition of beating Memphis again. He posted a second double double with 17 and 12. When it came time to beat Houston a third time in the same season guess what. Gary Clark had his third double double in a row and sealed the game with a free throw with just seconds remaining. Imagine that.

Gary Clark is a guy that we won’t forget anytime soon. His resume as a bearcat parallels that of legends that came before him and while the debate over how to honor those players who have made a lasting impact drums on all I know is Gary Clark’s #11 is now in that conversation.

Here’s to you!

 

The Madness Starts Now

Lets Dance!


In less than 2 hours the greatest sports extravganza starts. 48 games in 48 hours. It’s a wirlwind of a weekend and one the Cincinnati Bearcats have been preparing for since the beginning of the season. The Bearcats  powered through the American finishing as regular season champs and tournament champs. Now they sit the 6th ranked team in nation, 30-4, and a 2 seed in the South region of the bracket.

The Bearcats haven’t won this much hardware in 16 years and are well overdue for a run.

I like the match ups the Bearcats face this year. I don’t love them, but we’re sitting pretty.

Let’s break down the potentials for the game Friday and the potential ones on Sunday!

Round of 64

Georgia State or as their coach Ron Hunter refers to them as, The Little Step Sisters of the Poor. The Panthers are 24-10 andwon the Sun Belt Conference Tournament to get the auto bid and now face an up hill task against the Bearcats. The Panthers like to play zone and shoot the 3. The Bearcats have seen this before and while they’ve struggled to defend the 3 at times this year I just don’t see a first round upset playing out in this one. Not with this roster and the grit of the Bearcats.

Season Highlights for Georgia State include wins over Tulane, and UMass.

Players to watch: 6’3″ Sophmore and #15 D’Marcus Simonds averages about 21, 6, and 5 a game. That’s pretty impressive at any level. Look for the Bearcats to find him early and lockdown. The Panthers also have 6’5″ Junior Jeff Thomas, maybe related to Dave Thomas of Wendy’s? #30 averages 11, 4, and 2. The 6’5″ Junior Malik Benlevi #2 averages 10,7,and 2 as well.

The Keys are simple in this one – D up Simonds and limit him to 12 points or less – Control the pace of the game – hit open shots – crush them on the glass.

Prediciton: Bearcats 72 Panthers 57


Round of 32

On Sunday the Bearcats will either face 7/10 winner, Nevada or Texas. Twitter’s butt puckered when they say this potential match up with Nevada on Sunday. I’m not sure why though. First they have to take down Mo Bamba and Texas, which I think they will. Nevada has a good record, they won the Mountain West regular season and tournament. They’re 27-7 but play in a conference with Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force. They are well coached and can shoot the ball but lack depth. Something the Bearcats have plenty of this time around.

The Wolf Pack has 4 players that average double figures and are lead by Jr. Caleb Martin who averages 19, 5, and 3.

Jr. Jordan Caroline is solid as well he averages 18, 9, and 2.

Throwing bodies at these two will be key.

Prediction: Bearcats 69 Wolf Pack 59


If Texas does beat Nevada which is entirely possible, they do play in a tougher conference and it’s March, the Bearcats will face a team that finished 6th in the Big 12 and lost to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament.

The Longhorns have 4 players averaging double figures as well. They’re led by Osetkowski with 14 ppg, Jones 14 , Bamba 13, and Roach II with 12. The Longhorns can rebound and have good size. Seeing them Sunday would mean our interior D would have to be on point and we’d probably see more minutes for Brooks.

If you missed Coach Hunter’s breakdown of the match up with the Bearcats here it is and it’s an all timer.

ESPN gives the Bearcats about a 10% (the 5th highest percentage) chance to win the whole damn thing. It starts this weekend. LET’S GO BEARCATS!

Championship Sunday

The Bearcats v The Man Bun: A Trilogy


I hope you set your clocks right last night (spring forward btw) because if you didn’t you’re going to miss out on an all timer today. The Cincinnati Bearcats go for their 30th win this season against the Houston Cougars. The Bearcats have the opportunity to win 30 games for the second straight season. The difference this season so far has been the regular season outright title and possibly the AAC tournament title too. A man bun stands in our way.

I’d love for Gary and Kyle to dominate this game and lead us to a W today. Throw in the game changing performaces of Cumberland and Scott with little bit of Cane to spice things up and I think we can all watch the Bearcats finally cut down some nets today.

That’s easier said then done though. The Cougs are the last team to beat the Bearcats. Houston got the better of the Bearcats in Houston winning, 67-62. It also ended the 16 game winning streak we had going at the time. We’ve sinced started a new one but you’d think the guys are ready to avenge that L, this time for a trophy and banner.

I’d also assume Man Bun is salty Gary Clark won the POY and he didn’t that might give them some extra motivation too.

Cronin was hyped for the regular season title. I can’t imagine what he’ll be like once the Bearcats beat Houston later today. I’ll have my cigar ready though, that’s for sure!

Keys to the Game

  1. Rebound. No reason why Clark and Washington should dominate this stat
  2. D up the Man Bun. Don’t let him get hot or make plays. They’ve been able to do this relatively well the first two games. Don’t skip out this time.
  3. No turnovers. It feels like the Bearcats have really improved in this category.
  4. Score. Don’t go decades without scoring.
  5. A Clark double double + Broome and Cumberland in double digits = W 

Prediction

Bearcats 63 Cougars 60

 

The End of the Regular Season

The Bearcats Last Chance to Impress


Sunday the Cincinnati Bearcats take on #11 Wichita State for the second time in about two weeks. The Shockers did just that at BB&T Arena beating the then #5 Bearcats on their home floor and ending a 39 game home winning streak. It was the Bearcats second loss of the week and fourth overall for the season.

At that time Joe Lunardi had the Bearcats as a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Selection Committee had just announced their top 16 teams and they too had the Bearcats at a 2 seed. After the set of losses the Bearcats have since beaten UConn, Tulsa, and Tulane.

It is the opinion of this blog that even though the AAC tournament isn’t until next weekend, Championship Sunday and Selection Sunday sharing the spotlite, it is this Sunday in Wichita that the Bearcats make their final push and plea with the committee to get back to that 2 seed.

Most of the latest bracketology being thrown around has the Bearcats at a 3, maybe even playing as close as Nashville. Which would be a huge turnaround from some place like Spoakane, WA. I wouldn’t mind that at all really. Being the top 3 seed could have advantages. BUT if the goal is to get the best seed possible then a win on Sunday is a must.

For the Bearcats to have a shot at a 2 beating Wichita State on the road would certainly help. Add a win or two in the AAC tournament and I think we have a good shot at it. The point of this is

The committee will probably already have its mind made up by tip off of the AAC Championship game next week. 

Winning all the way up to that point would get the job done.

There’s evidence to support this. Last year when Cincinnati lost to SMU in the AAC championship the outcome was null in the eyes of the committee. Both teams were seeded the same. The committee didn’t care who won. They based their decision on everything leading up to that point. I’d guess they would do the same this year. We’ll see.

Thoughts, let me know with a comment or tweet.

Go Bearcats!