Big East Conference (18-15, 7-11)
Big Wins: 11/23 vs Vanderbilt (67-58), 11/24 vs Maryland (69-57), 3/10 vs Louisville (69-66)
Bad Losses: 1/9 at Seton Hall (76-83), 1/13 at St. John’s (50-52), 2/16 at USF (57-65)
Coach: Mick Cronin
Why They Can Surprise:
Some may call it depth, others may see it as a team that lacks an identity, but no matter how you look at it, Coach Mick Cronin has started 11 different players during the 2009-2010 campaign. And it is not that bad of a thing because the Bearcats have a ton of depth in the frontcourt and that has turned this team into one of the best rebounding teams in the nation.
There are not any players on Cincinnati who have put up great numbers on the glass, but Yancy Gates is as close as it gets. The 6-9 sophomore is the wide-bodied space eater under the basket and is continuing to emerge as a consistent interior scorer as well as a solid rebounder and shot blocker. Rashad Bishop is the multi-dimensional scorer in the frontcourt. He grabs his fair share of boards, but his ability to step outside and hit the mid-range jumper adds another dynamic to the Bearcats offense. However, he has been suspended and his status for the postseason is still up in the air. Ibrahima Thomas and Steve Toyloy are potential starters up front too and both of those players, while not great scorers, are good rebounders for players who are limited in minutes.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The backcourt relies heavily on a couple freshmen. Lance Stephenson has lived up to all the hype and is averaging 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Stephenson does not always take the smartest shots, which is why he is shooting a dismal 20.6 percent from beyond the arc, but he can certainly do plenty of scoring by attacking the basket. Cashmere Wright is the other freshman who is often in the starting lineup. The 6-0 point guard is not much of a scorer at this point in his career, but he can keep the opposition honest by knocking down the occasional long ball. However, both freshmen have a lot to learn, even Stephenson who may split for the NBA, and every mistake is magnified in March. Jaquon Parker has been thrown into that mix now as well with the suspension of Bishop.
Who To Watch:
Luckily for Coach Mick Cronin he has an experienced guard in Deonta Vaughn. The 6-1 senior has taken a step back in the scoring column this season, but with Stephenson by his side that is understandable. Vaughn has cut down his turnover numbers dramatically during his senior season and that is the role Cincinnati needs him to play this year. He does not have to score quite as much, but he does need to knock down the three-point shot and keep the rest of the young backcourt under control.
Cashmere Wright, Freshman, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.9 apg
Deonta Vaughn, Senior, Guard, 11.1 ppg, 3.4 apg
Lance Stephenson, Freshman, Guard, 12.2 ppg, 2.4 apg, 5.4 rpg
Ibrahima Thomas, Junior, Forward, 5.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Yancy Gates, Sophomore, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Rashad Bishop, Junior, Forward, 8.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Larry Davis, Junior, Guard, 3.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Dion Dixon, Sophomore, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.2 apg
Jaquon Parker, Freshman, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 1.0 apg
Steve Toyloy, Senior, Center, 3.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.2 (167th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.5 (134, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (148, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.1 (70, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (226, 13)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 29.2 (277, 14)
Free-Throw Percentage: 61.6 (323, 15)
Rebound Margin: 6.1 (17, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (118, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (137, 10)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Dayton