Bearcats v Houston A Preview

Bearcats. Cougars. Lets Go.


This Wednesday at 7pm on CBSSN the #8 Cincinnati Bearcats (19-2, 8-0) take on the Houston Cougars (16-4, 6-2) at BB&T Arena. Of course the 39 game home winning streak and the current 12 game winning streak are on the line. The Bearcats also have the opportunity to widen the lead in the American over Houston (tied with Wichita St for second) with a win.

The Bearcats breezed by Memphis on Saturday and had a couple days to recoup and prepare for this Houston team.

Houston is led by the Man Bun himself Rob Gray. He’s their hero and leader. The senior averages 19.7 points a game and has the green light at every opportunity. In my opinion he’s one of the top 3 picks for AAC player of the year. I’d currently put him second, right behind Gary Clark. The Bearcats have to know where he is on the floor at all times. I’m guessing JE III, Teddy, and Moore will all see minutes on him. They also have Corey Davis Jr at 12.3 ppg and Devin Davis at 10.8 ppg and 6.4 rpg.

The Cougars average 79.3 points a game and shoot a crisp 46.7 % from the field. They are also all over the glass with 39.5 rebounds per game. Their two losses in conference are to Tulane (81-72) and Wichita St (81-63). The other two losses on the year were to LSU (80-77) and Drexel (84-80) ((ouch)).

The best defense in the country has to be hitting on all cylinders to tame the Cougars.

The GoBeercats Keys to the Game
  • Keep it physical with Man Bun. Keep a body on him and let him earn it. 14 points or less.
  • Keep turnovers to less than 10 (this is super critical) and hit free throws. (Gary had a very off night from the line against Memphis)
  •  Rebound, rebound, rebound.

This game is going to be won in the trenches. Offensive rebounds and turnovers will be huge for the Bearcats. Free throws will need to be hit along the way as well.

Adversity. The Bearcats seemed well in control of the Memphis Tigers on Saturday night. Until half time that is. Memphis came out determined and full of life. They cut down the Bearcats once 16 point down to single digits before the Bearcats knew what hit them. Yes it caused some high blood pressure but I was glad to see them get some resistance. So far the bad AAC teams haven’t shown that kind of life after getting down that much. The Bearcats pushed the lead back over ten and didn’t look back.

Floor General. The Bearcats have a void at the point guard right now. Justin Jenifer seems to have no confidence in his offensive abilities right now and Cane Broom is quick but isn’t up to par on the defensive side of the ball, not to mention he’s turnover prone. For the Bearcats to have one of their starting five produce zero offense leaves them vulnerable. The ‘Cats struggle scoring for stretches of games, not having a key player score at all highlights that. Cronin likes to remedy that with sliding Evans over to PG. What about starting him there and sliding Moore in for a start. He had the D and the shot, as we seen with his dagger late in the game at Memphis on Saturday.

Injury Watch. At Memphis it looked like Gary Clark may have gotten hurt at some point and we all held our breath. Dan and Terry didn’t really make much of it on the radio broadcast just stating that it might have been a shoe insert issue. Apparently Gary goes through them like he does defenses.  I haven’t seen anything else about it so I’m assuming The Problem doesn’t have any. Jarron Cumberland looked just fine on Saturday as well. He twisted an ankle against Temple last week.

Rank Rising. On Monday the most recent AP poll came out having the Bearcats clock in at #8. Their highest rating this season and highest such ranking since they reached #7 in 2014. Cronin is well documented for not caring or discussing the rankings.

The Problem. Gary Clark was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the second time in a row. He continues to play at an elite level. His resume to earn the title again was nothing short of impressive. He averaged 17.5 ppg, and 9.5 rebounds. He also hit career milestones of 1000 points and 1000 rebounds. Unfortunately he broke his streak of double doubles on Saturday. He had 18 points and 9(!) rebounds. Mr. Clark is also the only player in America that ranks in the top 10 of both offensive and defensive ratings.

Bearcats Defense. Clark ranks #1 in country for his defensive rating. Although it should be noted that Kyle Washington is #5, Jacob Evans III is #6, and Jarron Cumberland is #16. Virginia is the only other team with 2 players in the top 16.

The ESPN match up predictor gives the Bearcats an 89.4% chance to win this game. The Bearcats will push the streaks.

Prediction: Bearcats 65  Cougars 55

Bearcats Crush Temple

Temple Didn’t Stand a Chance

This was a game dominated by Gary Clark’s history making achievement. He became just the 5th player in Cincinnati history to score 1000 points and get 1000 rebounds. Think of the players that didn’t accomplish that for a minute. Names like Kenyon Martin, Danny Fortson, and Jason Maxiell come to mind first, none of those three guys achieved that mark. Incredible. We’re witnessing history.

It didn’t take long for this one to become untouchable. Temple thought they were going to play us tight for about 3 minutes then their hopes disappeared pretty quickly. The Bearcats has 4 players in double figures. Led by Gary Clark with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, and 2 steals all in 26 minutes. Making that his 4th double double in a row. Kyle and Jarron each had 13 points each. Jarron had 11 in the first half  and missed most of the 2nd half with what appeared to by an ankle injury. Hopefully he’s good to go on Saturday. We’ll need him. Jacob finished with a nice stat line as well scoring 10 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and just 2 turnovers in 25 minutes.

Temple had 2 players reach 7 points each, Ernest Aflakpui and Quinton Rose. Their leading scorer from the last time they played the Bearcats, Enechionyiaj, was held to just 5 points. Temple didn’t have a lot going for them in the 33 point loss at BB&T arena last night.

The Bearcats had 45 deflections and out rebounded the Owls 46-36 a major improvement from the game in Philly.

The win also moves the nation’s longest home winning streak to 37.

I predicted a 75-61 victory for the Bearcats. I hit their points spot on but gave way too much credit to Temple. I also thought Jarron would show up big in this one and that was the case as well, at least for the first half. The Bearcats actually accomplished every key of the game that was in the preview for this one. Especially shutting down Obi and Brown.

BB&T was noticeably louder for this one, we need to take it to the next level on Saturday.

The Cincinnati Bearcats are now 18-2, 8-0.

We can’t forget the Beer of the Game

Bearcats Host Temple Preview

The #9 Bearcats Host the Temple Owls Tonight!


Tonight at 9pm on CBSSN our Cincinnati Bearcats battle it out again with the Temple Owls (10-9, 2-5) I’m sure we all remember the heroics from Jacob Evans III that it took for the Bearcats to win the game in Philly. I don’t think that will be the story at BB&T later tonight. The Bearcats are rolling right now and are currently favored to win the rest of the games on the schedule! That’s intense. The conference is ours to lose and I like it that way. Controlling your own destiny is always the best case scenario.

Regardless, Temple isn’t going to be an easy fight but we’ve had their best shot at their place and walked away victors. I like the Bearcats by a lot in this one too. In Philly the Owls had two players in double figures, Forward Obi Enechionyia with 14 and Guard Shizz Alston Jr with 12. Josh Brown chipped in with 6 points and 11 rebounds also. The Owls managed to keep it close with the Bearcats on the glass all game which really helped them. They finished with 35 boards and the ‘Cats with 40.

The other huge problem in the first game was turnovers. The Bearcats had 16! We only manged to score 55 points in this one winning by 2 after JEIII hit the game winner with 0.4 seconds left.

Here are the highlights

The Bearcats also struggled from the field shooting 36% in the first half and only shot 60% from the line for the game. I’d bet a dollar that we shoot poor again in the first half. That’s the trend so far this season.

Keys to the game:

  • DON’T TURN THE BALL OVER! Less than 10
  • Make free throws (Jarron Cumberland really improved last game)
  • Feed Gary Clark
  • Shut down Enechionyia and Brown (Probably the best players on the roster)
  • Increase the rebound margin this time around I’d like to see +12 or more

We’re in the Top 10 for the first time since 2014 and I’d like to stay there. We just have to take care of business tonight.

Here are the standings in the American so far. Isn’t it beautiful?

I look for Jarron Cumberland to lead the Bearcats in this one tonight and Gary goes for another double double

Prediction: Bearcats 75 Owls 61

The Bearcats make it 36 with Win over ECU

Gary Clark is the AAC Player of the Year


The #12 Cincinnati Bearcats now 17-2 and 6-0 in the American have now won 36 straight home games. In a game where the ECU Pirates hung around a little too long because of hot shooting (55% in the first half) the ‘cats got an attitude adjustment at halftime and the defensive effort kicked it up a notch. Gary Clark went out and did Gary Clark things notching yet another double double (14 points and 14 rebounds). It was his third straight double double and seventh of the season. He probably should have had around 25 points but missed a handful of half contested shots around the rim. Jacob Evans III and Kyle Washington each chipped in 17 points apiece and was followed by 14 from Jarron Cumberland.

The second half was all Bearcats all the time. The Bearcats controlled the pace and the effort as they breezed past ECU 86-60. Offense rebounds were key and the Bearcats grabbed 22 of them. While Evans, Washington, Clark, and Cumberland were the A team last night the B team showed great potential as well. Brooks produced 8 points and 5 rebounds in 11 minutes, Tre Scott had 5 points and 7 rebounds in 14 minutes, and Cane Broome is starting to play better after his ankle sprain, last night he had 7 points and 6 assists with 0 turnovers, which is huge. The Bearcats only turned the ball over 7 times all game.

Let’s revisit the keys to the game from the game preview:

– Make the open shot – The Bearcats struggled in the first half but picked it up in the second

– Don’t commit stupid turnovers, less than 10 for the game. Check! The ‘Cats had 7 for the game

– Gary Clark – Yeah, he showed up.

My prediction was 83-59. Final score 86-60. Pretty damn close.

If you were paying attention yesterday the Wichita State Shockers lost again. That’s two in a row for the Shockers. They lost at home against SMU and at Houston yesterday. I’m not really sure what that means for the strength of the AAC. Where does a Wichita State team with losses to SMU, Houston, and Cincinnati land in the big dance? Also, I’m not sure where I’ve been but as I watched the Houston-Wichita St game yesterday I finally noticed Houston’s Rob Gray and his man bun. We have to beat Houston every chance we get. We can not lose to a guy with a man bun like Wichita St did.

Andy Katz also had some remarks about the AAC and the Bearcats

So it seems the AAC is soley in the hands of our Cincinnati Bearcats. I don’t see us losing a home game. The streak will live to see the New Shoe but the rest of the season, will hinge on playing better in the first half and the Bearcats showing up on the road. Next up for Cronin and the Bearcats is another home game, Wednesday at 9pm on the CBSSN against the Temple Owls.

We can’t forget the Beer of the Game

Bike Path Pilsner from Little Miami Brewing Company in Milford. (@littlemiamibrew)

The Basketball Bearcats Have a First Half Problem

Cronin Has a Questionable Philosophy on Big Games

If you’ve watched the Cincinnati Bearcats over the past 12 years you’ve seen some classic basketball games. You’ve seen wins over hall of fame coaches, quadruple overtimes, and heavyweight bouts with top 25 opponents. However, you’ve also see a lot of one thing in particular. You’ve seen the Bearcats come out absolutely flat in more big games than not. I’m talking Waffle House pancakes flat. I mean 15 points in a half flat. Xavier up by 20+ flat. I think you get the picture. We almost expect it now. The Bearcats play very uninspired basketball the first half and, at least for this season so far, play a much better second half and come back and win.

Now, this isn’t a bash Cronin article. What the man has done at UC a lot of people thought was impossible. I want him coaching the Bearcats for the next 112 years and beyond. I just want him to try one thing.

Talk to the players about the weight of the game!

I went back and listened to almost every clip of Coach previewing a big game on YouTube. I’ve also heard him say this multiple times on his weekly radio show.  Here’s one thing they all have in common, Coach says something to the affected of:

“If I have to talk to my players about this being a big/important game, we got bigger problems than playing _____ tomorrow.”

The Bearcats then proceed to go out and play absolutely atrocious  basketball for the first half of the game. I think it’s a little thing but he’s spoke about it many times in the past why not switch it up and let the players know that YOU think it’s a big/important game? Don’t just count on the players having intrinsic motivation to go out and win. With my opinion and $10 you can buy a 6 pack but players need that hype from their coach. Just try to speak on it once, lets see what happens.

Have you not ever noticed him saying that before? Watch this clip for just the first 57 seconds.

57 seconds is all it took in this one. What happened when we took the court at Cintas? Well the Bearcats got ran off the floor letting X score 43 points at half. There are plenty of other examples. At Temple this season, 26 points and down 3 at the half, the UCF dumpster fire, and the Florida game. We can’t come out flat against Wichita St home or away. We can’t come out flat at SMU or Houston either. The hopes of a 3 seed live with winning 3 of those games mentioned.

Whatever the man says (or screams) at halftime has to work. In most instances this season the Bearcats respond in the second half and play so much better. It would just be nice to show life in the first half and not have to have someone save the season on a last second shot.

Now, I could be dead wrong about this and he does speak to the importance of big games to his players in the locker room removed from the media and cameras, but I don’t get that vibe from Cronin. He’s a say something and live it guy. Maybe Cronin is going for a Phil Jackson type of Zen Master so he tries to use Jedi mind tricks on his players. I don’t think Cronin can namaste his way to inner peace and a National Championship, he’s too jacked up. I wouldn’t have him any other way really. Maybe this is a little to much of having your cake and eating it too. I mean we are 16-2 and ranked #12 in the country. With this team though a deep run in March is pretty much expected and we have to play complete games to make it.

 

 

Bearcats at UCF

Here we go Bearcats, let’s make it 9 in a row!

Grab a beer and strap in for the Bearcats (15-2, 4-0) and the Knights (15-5, 3-2) Tuesday night at 7pm on the CBS Sports Network or in my case tuning into Dan and Terry on 700 WLW because I don’t have that stupid channel. Either way it should be a pretty good game and if the UCF basketball twitter is any indication, they’ll be ready for us, again.

Last year the Bearcats and the Knights split their series, each winning at home. The game in Orlando was a classic rock and broken glass fight with the Knights winning 53-49, not ideal. This year UCF has some familiar faces, they’re still lead by Coach Dawkins, anchored by the BFG Tacko Fall, and if he’s healthy enough (which he probably will be because that’s how it goes) BJ Taylor. Fall leads the team in scoring with almost 12/game followed by AJ Davis at almost 11/game. Davis and Fall also lead the team in rebounding.

The thing about this year’s Knight is they wouldn’t fall under my Typical AAC team criteria. They don’t have an awful loss. Their worst two losses are Missouri and UCONN. Yes, at this point I’d consider UCONN a bad loss, they’re terrible. That UCONN loss was just last 5 days ago and the last game they’ve played. They’ll be hungry to bounce back after that.  Also, they did get DOMINATED by West Virginia, 83-45.

The Knights only allow about 55 points per game, which is pretty damn good but the Bearcats are scoring 79 per game something will have to give.

If the Bearcats want to head out of Florida with 2 wins, here are the          Keys to the Game:

  • Knock down the 3. Tacko Fall will be guarding the paint like no other. He’s huge and points in the paint will be at a premium
  • 10 or less turnovers, the Bearcats committed only 8 on Saturday against USF which was vital in an almost stagnant first half
  • Teddy needs to carry over his stroke. He had 18 on Saturday and finally found his stroke. If he’s on like that, March will be really fun
  • Get Tacko into foul trouble and off the court
  • Gary has to be aggressive not subtle, catch the ball and make a move, don’t wait for the double team
  • We still need JEIII to catch that killer instinct he’s become the Alpha in recent games now its time to take it one step further, remember he’s a man and believes in himself
  • More production from the PG position, Jenifer and/or Broome, we need more than we got on Saturday

In addition to the keys of the game I think we’ll see more of Brooks, who was effective off of the bench on Saturday with 6pts, 2 rebs, 2 blks, in 9 minutes. We should see Nas squaring up with Tacko more than once.

I like the Bearcats in this one 69-57

Bearcats Catch Fire in Win Over Bulls

The Bearcats got the W, Jacob Evans III reached 1000 points, and Jarron “Teddy” Cumberland found his stroke. In a game of two very different halves the Bearcats had the firepower to go the distance. The first half was less than ideal with the Bearcats falling behind by 10 at one point. Luckily for us we had solid senior leadership that kept us afloat. Kyle Washington was the anchor in the first half. He had 12 in the first half which included going 8-8 from the free throw line. He kept the team in the game while everyone else was struggling to hit shots and to give USF some credit their D was tenacious in the first half.

Some things we saw last night:

  • USF is attacking the basket and we couldn’t have gotten out to a slower start
  • Teddy has improved on defense or at least at getting deflections
  • Free throws are much improved (Finally!)
  • The Bio’s for the players and coaches are WILD.
  • We fed the post, a lot. Had to in the first half because Kyle was the only one who could make a shot.
  • Cronin’s halftime head explosion worked because they’re much more aggressive
  • Broome and Jenifer were both relatively quite
  • Gary Clack finished with a double double
  • The first half belonged to Kyle, the second half to Teddy
    • He’s Back.
  • Jacob Evans III gets to the 1000 points mark on a 3 late in the second half!
  • Also, there was some criminal lurking in the back halls offering money and free adidas merchandise to players. Security really needs beefed up in Florida.

How do I know Teddy is back? Just look here: (I know the picture quality sucks)

Cumberland is in the top left of both of those just holding his pose knowing he’s stroking it. Watch out and Welcome to Cumberland ladies and gentlemen.

We can’t forget the #Beerofthegame

Next up for the Bearcats is 100′ giant Tako Fall and the UCF Knights on Tuesday.

Bearcats at USF

This isn't going to take long.

The game or this post.

On Saturday the #14 Cincinnati Bearcats travel to Tampa to take on the 7-10 (0-4) Bulls. The game starts at 7pm on ESPNN (whatever that is).

USF is your typical AAC basketball team. What is a typical AAC team? Well they've lost to Morgan State (by 10), Indiana (by 17), Eastern Michigan (by 18), Elon (by 1), Appalachian St. (by 23), and Florida International (by 12). Typical. Their latest lost came to conference foe Wichita State by the small margin of 38. It probably wasn't even that close.

The Bulls only have 2 players averaging 10+ points, Payton Banks and Stephan Jiggetts and are led by Malik Martin on the boards averaging 5.5. The also have a 7' 1" Center named Nikola Scekic who could be fun to watch. The Bulls are plagued by turnovers though and on Sunday against Wichita the Bulls had 20 made field goals and 18 turnovers. Ouch. The Bearcats streak of holding opponents to 18 field goals is well within reach for this one. The Bulls seemed to have figured out football but have a ways to go when it comes to hoops.

Keys to the Game:

- Make the open shot

- Feed Gary Clark the ball at every chance you get

- Don't commit stupid turnovers like against Temple and several other games

- When in doubt let Jake do this thing.

Things I'd like to see:

- Teddy find his shot

- Free throws being made by everyone

- Cane see significant minutes

- More action form Nsoseme

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Prediction:

Bearcats 85 Bulls 59

Hang 22 in the (New) Shoe

Steve Logan Earned It


The issue of the Cincinnati Bearcats having the bar set way too high to retire a basketball player’s number has reemerged in the past couple of days on twitter. I’ve heard a lot of debate about this topic the last couple of years and have heard both good and bad ideas surrounding the subject. I jumped at the opportunity to ask UC Athletic Director Mike Bohn about it a while back at an alumni dinner before a game. He said something like “its an issue that we’re kicking around some ideas on…why who do you think should have their number reitred?” Now of course I was asking him that question because I had a specific player in mind who I thought should have his number retired but I was a little surprised that Bohn shot that right back to me. I said back to him ” #22 for the great Steve Logan.”

Not having 22 hanging in the rafters is a huge mystery to me. Now if you don’t remember Logan or not old enough to have witnessed him play let me fill you in. Logan was the epitome of a Bearcat. A hard nosed, scoring guard that could lock a player down or break their ankle as soon as look at him. One former player that I met at a book signing called Logan “pound for pound best player we’ve had at Cincinnati.” That’s pretty high regard considering the former player who said it was part of the ’92 team and spent a considerable amount of time in the NBA. Logan is also already an inductee to the University of Cincinnati Athletic Hall of Fame.

Let’s look at the numbers.

He won the Conference-USA Player of the year twice! His senior year he averaged 22pts, shot 87% from the line, and almost 6 assists. Those are conference leading numbers for Logan who the roster had listed at 6′ and 200 lbs. and if you look at him in the highlights below, 6′ was probably a little generous.

The guy was a winner. He was a sophomore the year K-Mart broke his leg but picked up right where he had left off. His senior year the Bearcats went 31-4 and 14-2 in C-USA and lead the team that had Final Four written all over it. They were a 1 seed in the tournament that year and all looked great until UCLA knocked them out (sounds recently familiar).

Logan was drafted #1 in the second round to the Warriors but never played a game. I’d love to hear what happened with that but now Logan runs a youth basketball program in Cleveland and if I’m not mistaken has a son in high school who would look awfully good in red and black if he measures up to what his dad did.

I don’t have an a good answer to Cincinnati’s number retirement problem. Some have suggested a two tier system somewhat like North Carolina has which is fine as long as we #hang22intheshoe.

The Bearcats Throttle SMU at Home

The Streak Lives!

In what was sure to be a hard fought, heart attack having finish for the Bearcats last night’s game was any but. The Bearcats dominated SMU almost from start to finish. The Bearcats, now 3-0 in the American, showed why they were picked to finish first in the league last night. Even when SMU showed signs of life late in the second half the Bearcats never lost their cool.

Some things we saw last night:

  • The offense was struggling at the start finally it picked up about half way through the first half.
  • Cane Broome saw action last night after sitting out the past 2 games with an ankle sprain.
    • He was limited though, he finished the game with 3 pts, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 turnovers in 12 minutes.
  • Teddy (Jarron Cumberland) struggled from the floor. He tried to shoot his way out of it but it didn’t look good at any point in the night. He finished with 14 points somehow and at least 1 charge. His pull up jumper is still MIA.
  • The Bearcats shot 28% in the first half and 58% in the second
  • Only 11 turnovers for the game. Huge improvement over the Temple game.
  • Shake Milton had a VERY quite 14 points last night. He only put up 5 shots in the first half.
  • Jacob Evans III has Cronin’s confidence. Down the stretch the ball was in his hands.
  • Gary Clark. Problem? Yes. The guy plays grown man basketball. He finished with 18 and 8.
  • I said the Bearcats would score 77. They finished with 76 beating SMU by 20.

 

 

GIVE THIS MAN ALL OF THE AWARDS!

 

Dan Hoard is a living legend when it comes to radio calls here are the highlights as called by him:

And we can’t forget the #Beerofthegame

If SMU is supposed to be a top 4 team in the American the gap between 1 and 2 to 3 and 4 is huge.