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Cincinnati Bearcats

by Andrew Force | March 3rd, 2009

Good Wins: @ UNLV, UAB, Georgetown, Notre Dame, @Georgetown, West Virginia
Bad Losses: None, but swept by Providence.

Strengths:

1. Pace.  Anytime a team is able to forcibly alter your offensive flow, the level of comfort crumbles.  Its tough to even initiate the offense effectively when avoiding traps and rushing past the halfcourt stripe supersedes.  The priorities change.  One blatant illustration of Mick Cronin’s influence is the pressure defense.  Now that the program has some depth, the Bearcats finally impose their will on opponents.  Most of the time.   They trap the inbounds.  No Cincy guard is as blindingly quick as Scottie Reynolds or Dominic James.  Yet the well positioned and well trained ‘Cats frustrate constantly.  Cincy’s sweep of Georgetown, a team they will be battling for a berth, came on the shoulders of their defensive pressure.  The length of 6’5″ Alvin Mitchell and 6’6″ Rashad Bishop makes the trap more foreboding. 

2. Star Power. Guards win games in the NCAA Tournament, especially in the second weekend and beyond.  Thanks mostly to the Cincinnati Reconstruction Deonta Vaughn has a ton of experience dominating pressure D.  Countless times in his first three years Vaughn has buried triples over extended arms.  The combo guard possesses that invaluable trait, unshakable confidence.  With the game-clock ticking down, no Big East guard outperforms Vaughn.  He has the basketball sense to drive the lane late and strong shoulders to absorb contact while finishing in the lane. 

Weaknesses:

Direction.  UC needs a point guard.  It must kill Coach Cronin, a college PG himself not to have a player who can see two passes ahead.  Or a player who will pull the ball out when patience is preferable.  Before the season “The Cure” Cashmere Wright blew out his knee.  The frantic defensive element should not carry over to the offensive end.  Control even when playing fast is critical.  It never suits a team to have its leading scorer multi-task as primary distributor.  Ask Allen Iverson’s observers, rather, “teammates.” 

Shooting.  Overall they don’t shoot great from any line (3PT or FT).  However, if they are playing frenetic, spastic, then the Bearcats string a few made shots together and simultaneously frighten their opponents. 

Other Factors: 

Bench: The bench has shortened as Mike Williams is trying to recover from a sprained MCL.  Dion Dixon has great shooting ability, and fills it up nightly.  Ten times the Chicago-product has scored in double figures despite just a sprinkling of starts.  Anthony “Biggie” McClain allegedly has great potential.  Coach Cronin just wont let the world see, as Biggie plays tiny minutes. 

The Departing: Very little.  The seniors, powerful rebounder Mike Williams and gritty Branden Miller serve as captains for this edition of the Bearcats.  Since Williams transferred in with just one year remaining and Miller walks on, neither offers tangibles that will be missed.  The toughness Miller incited will be his legacy.  Coach Cronin saw a lot of himself in the hungry guard. 

Tournament Predictions:

Right now Cincy looks like a 10-12 seed.  That makes the Bearcats a first round underdog likely against a power conference opponent.  They could be difficult to knock off because they play prickly defense.  One win.  One loss.  Last 32.

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