Bearcats Basketball is Back

It’s Basketball Time in the Queen City!


-The Beercat

It’s the most wonderful time, of the year! The Cincinnati Bearcats are about to kick off the basketball season on Wednesday. There’s a lot to be excited for this year. We know the newly renovated 5/3rd area is looking amazing. If you went out to the exhibition game on Thursday you already have a head start on me. Odds are you did go because over 10,000 people showed up to a game that didn’t count. If you didn’t make it here are the highlights:

That dunk from LaQuill was NaStY!

The Lineup 

Losing your top 3 scorers is tough but over the years Cronin hasn’t had to rebuild, just reload. That’s what we hope happens this season too. There were some questions with who would start this season for the Bearcats and we got a preview of that this past Thursday. The line up looked like

Jenifer

Broome

Cumberland

Scott

Brooks

Cumberland, Scott, and Brooks isn’t that surprising to me. Cumberland is the #1 scoring option, Scott and Brooks are taking on new roles as starters but got minutes last year behind Washington and Clark. The dual threat of Broome/Jenifer was one that we didn’t get a lot of last season. They usually spit minutes about 50/50. Jenifer being the more defensive minded ball protector and Broome the scorer. I like the idea of starting them both. If they’re both on the floor you’d think they’d look to push the tempo and channel their inner “Showtime.”

In the recent past Cronin hasn’t switched up his starting line ups that much if he could help it (with injuries obviously he would of had to) but with Keith Williams and Trevor Moore seeing time last year some thought they would be in the mix as well. Then you have a new comer like Rashawn Fredericks. A player some thought could come in and start right away. He’s also a guy some who are close to the team say will be a Cincinnati fan favorite because of his style of play (a blue collar, hustle, and grid type of gamer).

In a tweet earlier this week I mentioned the guard combo that Illinois had a while back of Deron Williams and Dee Brown. If you don’t remember them, look it up. That backcourt could score and score quick! I’d love to see Broome and Jenifer light up the scoreboard pushing the tempo.

Game 1

When UC announced that the Buckeyes would be traveling south to Clifton I honestly didn’t believe it. It’s something that hasn’t happened in my lifetime, or my dad’s, or my 94 year old grandpa’s. So opening the newly renovated Shoemaker Center with the Big 10 team up north really got me jazzed up. Kicking off the season with the Buckeyes and having the impressive home schedule that we have this year I thought it wise to buy season tickets.

The last time the Bearcats and bUCkeys met on the hardwood, I was in Panama Beach, FL for spring break. My friends and I took over a small hole in the wall towny bar to watch the Sweet 16 game between the 2 Ohio schools. The year was 2012 and I remember that Justin Jackson was our leading scorer at half with 8 points. At the time, that wasn’t a great sign. OSU won the game 81-66. We continued to drink on the beach, heavily.

The last time OSU played at the home of the Bearcat’s you’d have to go back to 1920. The two teams also met a couple of time in the 1960’s as well, although, I’m sure Buckeye’s fans wouldn’t know anything about that.

You’ll remember that 2012 was the year of the infamous Crosstown Punchout game in Norwood.

The bUCkeyes will be ready to play though. Last season they exceeded most expectations under new coach and former Butler Bulldog Chris Holtmann. The bUCkeyes went 25-9 (15-3). They made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament before getting bounced by Gonzaga. The lowlight of the bUCkeyes season would had to have been losing to Penn State (26-13, 9-9) 3 times last season, twice in the regular season and once in the Big 10 tournament.

Prediction

Bearcats 64                          bUCkeyes 61

Tip off is at 6pm Wednesday night. I hope to see you there. I’ll be in section 207 that night, and every night the Bearcats play in Clifton.

A Toast to Nick Van Exel

A Toast to Nick Van Exel


-The Beercat

Earlier this week the University of Cincinnati inducted former basketball stand out Nick Van Exel into the UC Sports Hall of Fame. For you younger UC fans that weren’t around yet Van Exel averaged 15.2 pts and 3.6 ast during his two seasons as a Bearcat from 1991 to 1993. He left his mark at UC while  leading the Bearcats to the 1992 NCAA Final Four as a junior. As a senior he averaged 18.3 pts and 4.5 ast earning third team all-America honors and was named a finalist for the John Wooden Award for the nation’s top player. Van Exel was drafted in the second round (37th overall pick) by my LA Lakers in the 1993 NBA Draft.

Former UC and Lakers alumni Corie Blount captured some of his speech from the ceremony

Nick the Quick was a JUCO transfer out of Trinity Valley Community College in Texas a school he had to go to for poor high school grades. After 2 years in central Texas he was ready to leave. He took 32 credit hours one semester to be eligible and transfer, he would become a Bearcat.

Once he came to UC he lived in the gym over the summer until he was eligible in the fall. I’m not talking about a cliché like how much he practiced or extra hours in the gym. I’m talking about all of his belongings in a bag and literally sleeping in the gym.

He was just the type of player Coach Bob Huggins would recruit and Exel with (see what I did there?). He could ball with the best of them but needed to prove himself in the classroom and the way he carried himself. Admittedly, the later took him a while to figure out.

Van Exel played in the NBA from 93-06. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.6 assists. He did his most damage as a Laker and a Nugget. He also spent time in Dallas, Golden State, and San Antonio.

“A leader, fierce competitor, explosive athlete and the Toast of Kenosha” are just a few ways that people have described his game. He was super quick (hints the nickname), shifty, and would drive, shoot, or pass and you wouldn’t know which way to look until it was too late.  He was a bully on the court and he always got his way.

How good was he? See for yourself.

 

Congratulations Nick! It’s well deserved and long overdue ! Cheers.

Jacob Evans the Golden State Warrior

Jacob Evans III Drafted 28th Overall


     On Thursday night in the NBA Draft the reigning world champions the Golden State Warriors selected University of Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans III with their only pick in the draft. I for one am very excited JEIII was selected by a top-notch organization. Cincinnati sports fans who follow the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t be so thrilled with where he landed but they can get over it.

Jacob “Big Game Jake” as Warrior fans will soon get to know him as is a great fit here. His pre-draft prospect card says he’s a 3 and D wing that can guard multiple positions. He has a long wingspan and has an extremely high basketball IQ. I’m not saying anything Bearcats fans don’t already know. Jake did a lot of great things at UC and I believe he’ll be a great Bearcat ambassador in the NBA now too.

Glancing at his career numbers at UC you probably won’t be too impressed. He put up respectable numbers but nothing that even matched the former UC great and undrafted Chicago Bulls player Sean Kilpatrick. In his defense though the team he played on was much better overall. JEIII played along side 2017-’18 AAC POY Gary Clark all three years, not to mention Kyle Washington, Troy Caupain, and underclassmen/ the future Jarron Cumberland. Jake did what he had to do to make his team win and that’s exactly what the did, win. During Jake’s time at UC (3 years) the team went an almost unbelievable 85-22 and 65-11 his sophomore and junior year.

Evans and the Bearcats could never make it over the hump in the NCAA Tournament though. They failed to make it out of the first round each year and none more devastating than this years loss to Nevada in the second round. One the Bearcats looked to have locked up early in the second half.

I’d have to say this is the first draft I have paid attention to since SK was supposedly going to be drafted several years back and it’s the first draft I followed along with on twitter. I have to say it was wildly entertaining. Some started to panic though when we got to the mid twenties and Jake was still on the board. The writing was on the wall though for Golden State taking Jake. A team rep had been to watch Jake on three separate occasions this past season. He also worked out for them twice, the second coming just the day before the draft.

Then, you knew it was going to happen…

Realizing Jake won’t be wearing that Cincinnati jersey next year hurts but I can’t wait to see him play for the Champs. He has that winning mentality and over the past three seasons it’s hard to pick a favorite moment I had of Jake but if I had to pick one it would have to be the buzzer beater over the Man Bun against Houston at home. I got chills watching it again, full highlights below.

Not impressive enough? How about that time in Wichita when Jacob Evans III carried the Bearcats to victory on just one leg?

So #DubNation are you ready for the next Splash Brother with some Cajun flavor? He’s going to fit in just fine with the boys!

All I need to know is which Evans III Golden State jersey I should I get?

 

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