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2007-2008 Cincinnati Bearcats

by Andrew Force | November 12th, 2007

2006-2007 Record: 11-19 (2-14), 16th
Postseason Games: NA

Returning Statistical Leaders:
14.5 ppg – Deonta Vaughn
7.3 rpg – John Williamson
3.5 apg – Deonta Vaughn

Starting Lineup: Key Stat:
C Anthony McClain 6’11 Fr. 6 BIG EAST scholarship offers
PF John Williamson 6’6 Sr. Led team in rebounding 18 times
SF Marcus Sikes 6’8 Sr. 5-5 3-pointers to start the season
G Jamual Warren 6’2 Sr. 15% shooter from 3-point land
PG Deonta Vaughn 6’1 Soph. 8-19 as a starting PG

Key Player Losses: Mike Williams. This dude walked into Texas with a premiere recruiting class of Lamarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, Dion Dowell, and Connor Atchley. That is a pair of 5-stars, a couple of 4-stars, and a 3-star all in one package.

In what would have been their senior and defining year, Aldridge is now starting for the Portland Trailblazers, Gibson is winning playoff games for the Cavs, and both Dowell and Williams have long since transferred.

Dowell excelled at the University of Houston while Mike Williams began October by rupturing his Achilles’ tendon during workouts.

For a team that struggled severely with depth a year ago, losing a Big East-caliber player hurts. Almost as much as blowing out your Achilles’.

Impact Newcomer: Anthony McClain.

The kid nicknamed Biggie was a big get for Coach Cronin. McClain stands 6’11” and plays longer. Boy did the height-challenged Bearcats need him.

McClain played for three different high schools and does have holes in his game. Cronin is obviously eager to have a true center to work with after last season. The kinks should get ironed out swiftly.

With his skill set, shot-blocking and stamina, Anthony McClain will start right away.

Tough Question: How does Mick Cronin acclimate the freshman class to Big East play?

Deciding to fast forward the transition period at UC, Cronin brought in four junior college players. That excludes ineligible JuCo transfers he lured and two D1 transfers.

These players were more ready to compete on Day One than marginally talented freshmen would have been. Cronin decided to focus on the Class of 2007.

As six new and impressively-talented freshmen matriculate to campus, the task becomes different but equally difficult. This team of well-traveled seniors and unproven freshmen need somehow gel into a BIG EAST-worthy unit.

Also, does winning today supersede developing young talent in Coach Cronin’s mind?

Good luck Mick.

Too Much PT: When you have six returning letterwinners, no one is playing too often.

Get Him on the Floor: John Williamson.

Sure Big John played 31 minutes per game last year as Coach Mick Cronin started from scratch. He fits the category because the potential for diminished minutes exists.

Frontcourt additions will thankfully move JW from the center spot. It was ridiculous to see a 6’6” man in the post last year. Regardless of height, Williamson brings a warrior’s mentality that must permeate the still undermanned squad.

Point Guards’ Impact: Deonta Vaughn is a scoring guard. Out of necessity Vaughn looked to score buckets and buckets.

No team can succeed in this league with one scoring option. No team can excel with exclusively one-on-one players. The coaches are too good and the players are too athletic.

Vaughn could kill two birds with one stone by maturing as a point guard. The NBA will look more seriously at him if he proves he can run an offense. Standing 6’1, this should be his priority as a player. How fortuitous that his development aligns with Cincy’s?

Expectations: No players have been with the program long enough to judge their success or failure.

Final Word: The 2006-2007 campaign was not about wins and losses for UC. The goal was to implement a new way of doing things. Because the team included almost no holdovers, the process was rather easy.

After that 11-19 aberration, the Coach Cronin era begins in sincerity. Focusing his staff’s energies on the class of 2007, the diminutive Jiminy Cricket attracted four top flight players.

By welcoming his true players, Cronin can now be judged by his on-court success. The expectations for the Hometown Boy get serious as they always will be for the hard-nosed Cronin’s troops.

–Andrew Force

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