Cashmere Wright has had a switch turn since December 10. That day was the Crosstown Shootout. Wright had 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in the Xavier disaster. He was clearly outplayed by Tu Holloway, his PG counterpart. Wright also fouled out of that game. The thing is, that wasn't even his worst game of the season. Presbyterian was. He threw up a 2 point, 2 rebound, 2 assist, 3 turnover game in the shocking upset. Those games had something in common, he was 1-8 from the field in both. Don't get me wrong, Wright had a couple of flashy games, 23 points on 9-14, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals with 5 turnovers against Jacksonville St. Obviously something has changed with the junior point guard. But what?
Being more aggressive. You may say, oh that's so cliche. Sometimes cliche is true. Wright had 9 games with more than 10 FG attempts his first 2 seasons. He's already racked up 5 this season. In something I'll touch on in a moment, Wright had never taken double digit 3 point attempts. He had 12 games of over 4 three point attempts. He's hit 6 this year. For seemingly the first time in his career, Cash is looking for his shot and not passing it up when it's there. He's not settling like in the past. When you get the shot you want, your confidence level rises, even if the shot doesn't go. That's because you know you can get it again.
3 point shooting. Cashmere Wright made 7 threes the first 8 games of the season. The last 4 he's made 16. I mentioned how it's taking more up top, but he's drilling more than ever. The most remarkable thing about his sudden 3 point bombing act is that it's come out of nowhere. Wright hit 18 triples his freshman season in 70 attempts. That's less than 26%. Last season he made 32 in 91 attempts. That's 35%. This season he's taken 55, but already made 23. He's hitting at 41.8%. He's 14-24 the past 3 games. Cash had 4 games where he made 3 or more 3s in his first 2 seasons. He's got 3 in a row.
Drilling inside the arc. Cash hit 41.8% on 2s his freshman year. Cash hit 45.5% his sophomore year. He's hitting 53.5% this season. The career progression took a huge step up. Some of this, a lot of this, has to do with the fact that he's facing a level of competition that he can blow by his man easy. But here's the thing that is a good sign, Cash wasn't doing that. He's doing the next thing.
Becoming more efficient. In the non-con last year, he took 4 shots for 3 points, 7 for 8, 12 for 18, 7 for 11, 5 for 6, 7 for 10, 6 for 10, 10 for 15, 4 for 9, 7 for 12, 8 for 12, 2 for 6 and 5 for 10. This season Cash has had games of 7 shots for 10 points, 14 shots for 23, 5 for 9, 16 for 25, 12 for 20 and 7 for 14. Obviously I was doing some cherry picking for this year's numbers, but the fact remains that Cash is making the most of every shot. It does look a lot more impressive when those shots are 3 pointers. So far in his career best scoring rate, Cash is using less possessions than last season, 21.5 this year, 22.3 last year.
Cash has been getting everyone involved. Cash had nearly 4 assists a game last season. He's up a little over 5 this year. He's assisting on a higher level of FGs than ever. He's had 8, 6, 5 and 7 assists the past 4 games. That's resulted in 22 points vs Wright St, 14 points vs Radford, 13 points vs Pine Bluff and 15 points against Chicago St. Adding those numbers together, Cash has been responsible for 34, 39, 33, and 29. That was half for Wright State, a fourth of Radford, 33% against UAPB and less than 30% against Chi St. You can't deny that Cash's play has rubbed off on the rest of the team. UC had 23 assists on 36 FGs that night. Being selfless with the ball rubs off. Cash has been the perfect blend of scorer and passer.
UC as a team has been highly efficient. Cincinnati is playing faster, which everyone can notice. UC has had games of 74, 73 and 69 possessions the past 3 games. But that's burying the lead. UC has been deadly efficient, scoring 1.34, 1.36, 1.38 and 1.38 points per possession the last 4 games. UC had done that 4 times the past 2 seasons. I repeat, 4 times the last 2 seasons. That speaks very badly of the offenses of the past, but highly of this one. This goes as a point for Cash because your team plays like your point guard plays. He's setting the pace and everyone is following his lead.
Wright has stopped turning the ball over. Cash has had great stretches of not many turnovers in the past. He got off to a brutal turnover heavy start to the season. He had 17 in the first 4 games. He's had 12 since. 6 in the last 5 games. That's helped him rack up a 26 to 4 assist to turnover ratio the last 4. The first 5 games it was 21 to 17. That includes his 10 assist, 0 turnover game against Marshall. Being smart with the ball does wonders.
Rebounding. Cash getting defensive boards turns him loose. Against Chicago St, 2 rebounds, pushes up the floor and assists for layups. Against APB, rebound, push, assist for 3, rebound, push, missed SK layup, UC scores on the offensive rebound. Rebound, push, Kilpatrick goes to the line. 6 points off rebounds that game. Against Wright St, drew a foul, Kilpatrick miss, Parker 3 off offensive rebound. Radford game. Cash pushed up the floor and missed a layup, got the to the line, assisted Kilpatrick for a layup, assisted Parker on a layup and drew another foul. That was 5 points. That's 14 direct points just off Cash getting rebounds. That's a huge change in his game.
I asked Cash what changed in his game lately. He said freedom for errors. When asked to elaborate, he said:
"We have enough freedom right now where you don't have to second guess your move or think about making a mistake."
From that quote, it seems like the world has opened for Cash. He's not turning his head to the bench after a questionable shot or blown defensive assignment. He's got the confidence to do what he is good at doing on the floor. Sometimes confidence is the biggest difference. It's like talking to girls. If you hesitate on the approach, your game suffers. If you walk into the situation know that if you get the right window you are going to lock it down, you will. That gives you the confidence for heat checks as well. Did I just tie in hitting on girls to Cashmere Wright's confidence on the basketball court? Yes. That's as good a time as any to wrap this post up.