If you’re looking for a pick me up, turn back now.
If you’re looking for a pity party-fire everyone witch hunt, turn back now.
Let’s pick up the pieces and drink. Definitely keep drinking, heavily.
And as always remember this, with my opinion and $10 you can buy a six pack.
The Round of 64
After a hard fought season and second consecutive American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship the basketball Bearcats find themselves on the outside looking into the Madness, this time after the first round.
The defensive savvy Bearcats allowed 48 points in the second half against Iowa. Senior guard Justin Jenifer refused to give in scoring 19 points in what would be his last outing as a Bearcat but it wasn’t enough. Iowa was too big and too deep to seal a victory with Bearcat MVP Jarron Cumberland not in the zone although he finished with 18. Add in the fact that the force in the middle Nysier Brooks was in foul trouble early and ended up fouling out early in the second half and you have an early exit, again. This takes Coach Cronin’s NCAA Tournament record to a dismal 6-11.
The Bearcats looked to be in command from the tip, at one point pushing to a 13 point lead and causing Iowa to call two time outs early in the first half to try to stifle the momentum the Bearcats were building. Brooks finished with 11 points and was just as valuable on the defensive end totally disrupting any inside work the Hawkeyes tried to do in the paint.
“that’s all I have to say about that”
What the Bearcats Need
The Bearcats need to make changes, I think we can all agree on that, here are my suggestions.
Big men – Brooks and Tre are the show, Ellie has to develop more but I do love his energy. This might not be a popular opinion, I’ve shared those before, like Cronin needs to actually draw up an out of bounds play, I’ve yet to see one since mid way through the season and if you think you have show me the tape and I’ll show you why you’re wrong, but back to my original thought, I don’t trust Mamadou’s decision making skills, at all. He’s undersized and as of now, a liability on the floor. The Bearcats need to recruit some big men with size and strength. I know they are hard to come by but Cronin’s has gotten them before, see Yancy Gates. I’m assuming Cumberland enters the draft. If that happens the big men are going to be key to the teams success next year. Big men can’t play 38 minutes a game, having players to fill the gap is a must.
Tougher OOC schedule– this years’ schedule was a good attempt but crushing a down UCLA didn’t really help. This is way easier said than done, I know, but it must be done. We’ll get our win count in this shitty conference against the UConns, Tulanes, and SMUs. This conference isn’t going to help us. Especially with UConn stuck in mediocrity and Wichita State right above them. I’d vote to kick out ECU and Tulane to bring in VCU and and maybe a Buffalo or Murray State. Seriously, that’s how much those teams aren’t contributing. We should take up “the anyone anywhere” mentality to challenge the team as much as possible. We might not win 30 games a season but it’ll pay off in March.
Depth – In all honesty the Bearcats were 1 deep from the bench this year. That was Cane Broome. After that you have nothing but question marks. Especially when it comes to bigs but I’ve already addressed that. Logan Johnson is almost a guaranteed starter next year and he has an insane amount of athletic ability but has some much needed basketball ability to develop this summer, priority #1, this jump shot. Juco transfer Rashawn Fredricks had a disappoint season. If you compare his first year playing on this level with Broome or Titus Rubles it’s still disappointing. Freshmen Laquill Hardnett and Prince Gilliam never played, unless I was at the Queen City Bar in 5/3 and missed it. That brings me to Trevor Moore. I put him and Ellie on the same level. I love his energy and he plays the defense Cronin wants but if he’s the best shooter Cronin has ever recruit Cronin needs to revaluate the shooters he recruits.
Cronin does have help on the way though with this year’s Ohio’s Mr. Basketball Samari Curtis coming in from Xenia high school. He averaged 34 points a game this season. I look for him to play some actual minutes next year.
Mick Cronin – I might lose some of you here but here we go. I don’t think Mick Cronin should be fired. That would include several rebuilding years, bringing in someone who would probably leave after two or three seasons (see the football team) and put us in a continuous rebuild. I don’t like our chances there. I like stability. I don’t like steadily being bounced out of the tournament the first weekend each year just as much as you, I get it. I do like making the tournament though a new coach doesn’t guarantee that. He needs to adjust the pace of his offense. If you watched that game Friday you saw Iowa press most of the game. You also saw the Bearcats break the press then set up their offense and then get the ball to Cumberland with 10 seconds or less on the shot clock, not good. Very rarely did the Bearcats use the press to their advantage. Forget setting up the offense and push the ball while you have numbers. Layups are points too and when you shoot something like 5 of 22 from the 3 point line those layups are your friends. Play the defense you want to play but it needs to be matched with offensive efficiency.
Hopefully, this talked you off of the ledge. If not remember this. The spring football game is April 13th at Nippert Stadium and the football Bearcats look to build on an 11-2 season with all the weapons coming back. Get excited!