The final edition of Bearcats Breakdown focuses on the Bearcats leading scorer, leading rebounder, and leading shot blocker, Yancy Gates. You could make the case that Gates was the most important Bearcat of last season. When he was on his game, the Bearcats were a force to be reckoned with. When 34 was checked out, the Bearcats took their share of losses. Being the star player means that you are the one your teammates follow. If you are playing hard, everyone else feeds off that. If you are slacking around, that eventually rubs off on everyone else. Gates had his share of growing pains during his junior season. His mini redemption at the end of the year coincided with the Bearcats mad dash to the NCAA tournament. The reason he needed a mini redemption of course, is that he was suspended for the Pittsburgh game. Gates appeared to get the message loud and clear. Before we look forward to his senior season, let's look back at his junior campaign.
Yancy Gates played 27.8 minutes a game, 67% of the minutes, which was the most any Bearcat saw the court. Gates averaged a career best, and team high, 11.9 points per game, on 51% shooting. He pulled in 6.9 boards a game, a high, with 1.2 blocks a game. Yancy also managed 1.2 assists and 0.8 steals a game, which were also career bests. His 57.9% free throw shooting was a career low.
Gates got his 11.9 points a game using 22.7% of the Cincinnati possessions, which was the second most on the team. Gates had an offensive rating of 109.4, which was 43rd in the Big East. Gates' effective shooting, and true shooting percentages were down a full point, 51.7, and 53.2, due to his worse free throw shooting, and taking a career high 14 threes. Gates hit 4 of them. The free throws were a huge hole in the game of Yancy Gates. He got to the line a a nice rate, but couldn't make many. He took the 22nd most free throws in the league, but was 32nd in free throws made. That's not a good thing.
Yancy pulled down 236 rebounds this season, 6.9 a game, which was 10th in the Big East. 74 of them were offensive boards, 2.1 a game, which was 9.2% of the UC total of offensive boards. His 4.76 defensive boards were 8th in the league, and his 21.2 defensive rebound percentage was 4th, and 132 nationally. Gates' 43 blocks were 14th in the conference, and 5% of the UC total, which was 15th in the league. He had 27 steals, which translated to a 1.7 steal percent. Gates passed the ball much better this year, 1.2 assists, a 10.3 assist percentage. Both were career highs. Gates had 44 turnovers, 1.29 a game, with an assist turnover ratio of 1. That was also a career best. He was a turnover machine. Gates cut down the fouls to 2.2 a game, which is good. His plus minus was 252, 14th in the league.
The season started off well for Gates. He put 15 on 7-16 shooting, with 10 boards up on the Mount, even though he fouled out. He followed that with 13-7-3 assists against IPFW. Gates racked up another double double with 11-11-2 steals-4 blocks against FAMU. That was one of his better all around games. Yancy followed that with 12, on 6-14, and 9 boards in the win over Savannah State. Gates was a non factor against UD due to foul trouble, but followed with 10-7-3 blocks against Wright State. Gates had a modest 8-4, followed by a 14-3-2 block game, a 12-6-3 block game, and a 11-7 against Oklahoma. Keeping it consistent. Gates had a bad shooting game against Miami, 2-9, 4-8 free throws, but had 8 boards and 2 blocks. Gates dominated St Francis. In 20 minutes, he had 18 points on 8-10 shooting, 6 boards, 3 assists, 4 steals and 1 block. That was his stat stuffing game of the year. He followed it up with 15-6-2 assists-2 steals-2 blocks against DePaul. He closed 2010 with 9-6-2 blocks against Seton Hall.
Yancy Gates started 2011 in style. The game was the Crosstown Shootout. Cincinnati fans call it the Crosstown Blowout. A lot of that was due to Gates. In 37 minutes, Gates poured in 22 points on 10-16 shooting, hitting nearly anything he put up. He pulled down a career best matching 14 rebounds, 5 offensive, with 2 assists, a steal and 2 blocks. Gates dominated the game fully. It was after that, that the tailspin began. He had 11-9 in the Nova loss, but just 9-3-3 steals against USF. He played only 17 minutes against Syracuse, where he had 3 points. That was followed by a 6-16 shooting game against Notre Dame, where he only had 5 boards. The trend looked to continue when UC rolled into St John's. Gates got in heavy foul trouble the first half, but carried the team in the second. With 8 seconds to go, Gates banked a jumper over Justin Burrell, with a foul, to put UC up 53-51, the winning margin. Gates followed that with a 11-12 double double against Rutgers. The wheels came off against West Virginia though. Gates played only 26 minutes, getting 7 points and 5 boards. That was followed by him being suspended for the Pittsburgh game.
Yancy Gates missed only the Pittsburgh game, and made the trip to Chicago for the Bearcats game against DePaul. Gates didn't start, and only played 16 minutes. He had 5 points and 3 boards before fouling out. This was the game he threw the peace sign to the scoreboard after he fouled out. He played 13 minutes and didn't score in the St John's rematch. This was the game where he wanted to check in, and yelled at Ibrahima Thomas. Gates played 30 minutes against Louisville, getting 8 points and 6 boards, but his rebirth game was against Providence. Gates dominated the Friar bigs for a 21 point game on 8-14 shooting, with 8 boards and 2 assists. That was followed with 17-11-2 blocks in the huge road win at Georgetown. Gates had a solid 14-8 game in the UConn loss, before a 11-11-2 block double double at Marquette. Gates closed the regular season hitting 10 of 10 free throws for many of his 13 points against Georgetown. The best offensive game of Yancy Gates career happened in New York, in the Big East tournament against South Florida. Gates hit 10 of 11, 5-8 at the line, for a career high 25 points. He had just 4 boards, but 2 blocks in the domination. Yancy had a nice stat line game against ND, 12-9-2 assists-3 blocks, but that didn't matter much. Gates had a great first NCAA tournament game against Missouri. He hit 7-8 for 18 points, had 11 rebounds and a block, as UC rolled over Missouri. The shooting touch wasn't there against UConn, 4-11, and he had 6 boards int he season ending loss.
It was a tale of 3 seasons for Mr Gates. He dominated inferior competition. Struggled a bit when the foes got tougher, and eventually couldn't handle it. Then, he came back and played some of the best ball of his career. We know what a motivated Yancy Gates is capable of. So does Yancy Gates. The Bearcats could have a special year if Gates has a special year. There is no reason he can't be Eric Hicks next year. There is no reason he can't be a Danny Fortson type. He's got the talent to take over games. What he needs to do is tighten his game up. Get the shooting percentage higher. Get the free throw percentage higher. Get a couple more boards a game. Get another block. A half a steal, another assist. If Gates threw up something like 15-9-2-1.6 blocks, that would be a special season. And here's the thing, I know he can do it. Here's hoping he believes the same.