Jon Rothstein is an interesting guy to follow on twitter. Sometimes he gives you analysis like Kyle Kuric is the next Dan Marjele and Sean Kilpatrick is the next Reece Gaines and Brad Redford is the next LeBron James. Might have made one of those up. Other times, Rothstein sits down with coaches and gets them to open the vault. He did that with Mick Cronin last night. I tweeted some of this, but I'll bring you the whole thing. Why not? Follow Jon on twitter. That seems like the apporpriate plug to do here.
On tempo: "We'll play faster. We've spent all spring + summer learning to play the way we did when Yancy was out last year."
On the guards: "Whenever you have returning guards that are proven winners, you have a chance to have a great year."
On Cashmere Wright: "If he stays healthy, his goal should be to be the best PG in the Big East."
On Sean Kilpatrick: "Scoring is an afterthought for him. We're trying to trim him down + work on his quickness."
On JaQuon Parker: "Once we got him away from PG, it allowed him to flourish. It freed him to get to the rim."
On Cheikh Mbodj: "He's a big key. He's down 24 pounds. He's a different guy than he was last year."
On Jermaine Sanders: "He's a completely different player than he was 12 months ago. He's lost 20 pounds."
On Shaq Thomas: "He's the forgotten guy. People from North Jersey know just how talented he is."
On Titus Rubles: "He's a perfect fit for our system. He's a true faceup player. I hope he can a Jae Crowder type."
On Ge'Lawn Guyn: "He's got more confidence now. He's got a chance to excel with our tempo."
On Justin Jackson: "Having an energy guy is a component I like to have. He's always revving everyone up."
Here are a couple of my thoughts on this.
I want to believe the tempo thing. I really, really, really do. It's one thing for the Bearcats to play uptempo against Savannah State and Northern Saginaw Valley, but it's a completely different thing to do in the Big East. You take the most uptempo teams in the league and they grind to a halt with the excellent defense of the rest of the league. We talk about how the Bearcats did this to opponents. We've seen opponents do this to the Bearcats. Without Yancy things should be more up and down, but at the same time, there is going to have to be a half court offense that gets modified. You can't run the same sets you did a year ago. I know that Cronin knows this and I don't need to say it, but I am a little worried that we could have a Bearcats team averaging 80 points in the non-con suddenly averaging 62 in Big East play. I'm a worrier, it's what I do. I also use a lot of commas. I have long thoughts.
Let's tackle the guards point and Cashmere Wright with the same paw point. There is no doubt that after nearly 2 years of saying "It's Cash's team," that it's finally truly Cash's team. We saw Wright dominate after the suspensions. We saw him turn into a jump shooter at other times. He's got the talent and ability to be the man for this team. He has taken steps. Now he needs to take the leap. I believe that he is absolutely capable. He may not be the greatest defender, but he has a knack for pressure. His steals jumping off the chart last season attest to that. My biggest knock on his offensive game is that he will not get to the line. His FT rate dropped to the point where you could tell someone his grand pappy was murdered on a free throw line and that's why Cash didn't go there. That's an extra 2-3 points per game for him. The Bearcats are going to go as far as Cashmere Wright can take them. I think he can take them a long way. I know you do too.
Sean Kilpatrick has to evolve his game. What he does now is great. He can make shots. He's not afraid to pull the trigger. He can rebound. When in the position, he can set guys up. When teams got in his face last season, we saw a little of the take the ball to the basket game from Killa. We need to see it more this season. He's not the 6th man anymore. He's not the 2nd or 3rd or even 4th option like he was at times last season. He's front and center with Cashmere. I expect him to have a great season. Just imagine if he can keep shooting 3s like he has shown, AND he can get to the rim at a high frequency. He would be a huge offensive threat to the rest of the league, not just one of it's premier shooters.
Mick didn't really say anything new about JaQuon Parker, but he didn't have to. JaQuon is going to bust his ass. You know this, I know this, Mick knows this. If he's at the 3 or 4, it doesn't matter. I would like to see his shooting continue to evolve. He started off hotter than a hot thing that's hot, but he cooled down towards the end of the season. Marquette game excluded. Believe it or not, Parker is a senior. He's a leader. Just roll the ball out there for him.
I really hope Cheikh Mbodj is a different player this year, because the player he was last year was not very good. He had 2 memorable halves of basketball, the second against Miami and the first at West Virginia. He had a solid game against St John's with 5 blocks and 7 boards at Rutgers. But all he was, was Yancy Gates' fill in when Gates was on the bench his 8 minutes a game. He was not the same player after the suspension. He was getting big minutes, 11, 19, 14, 25, 13. He played more than 11 minutes just 4 times the rest of the season. He'll probably be in the starting lineup or the first big off the bench. Hopefully the trimmer 13 can do work.
I'm very pumped to read that Jermaine Sanders is in the best shape of his life and ready to ball out this year. It's no mystery that I have an irrational love for his game. He's going to be a big part off the bench. I think a Sean Kilpatrick role from a couple years ago would work for him.
Shaq Thomas had issues getting through the NCAA clearinghouse last year, which saw him get a redshirt. Thomas was the highest rated recruit of the class a year ago. People were excited to see what he could do. If he's able to match the hype, maybe he could have a year like SK did a couple years ago. I know I just said that, but it's different. Killa redshirted, got used to playing with the team and then boom, instant hit. I think Thomas could have the same impact. I like Sanders could be the scorer off the bench, but I think Thomas could be a more impactful player if this makes sense. I think it does.
Titus Rubles is a very intriguing player. I heard pretty much nothing about his game before this summer. I don't want to get caught in the summer buzz with him, but I'm starting to buy in. I buy the Jae Crowder comp in the sense that he can be a do it all 4, but I don't think anyone is saying that he's going to be as good as Jae Crowder was last season. After all, he was the Big East player of the year. If Rubles can be a 4 who can put the ball on the floor and spread out the defense, that would be great. Him with Cash, SK and Parker could be dangerous and a lot of fun to watch. I wouldn't hate it if Rubles started from day 1.
Ge'Lawn Guyn had his best games of his career when the Bearcats played the wide open offense. He had 10 points and 11 points. He threw in 7 assists against Chicago St. He's a terrier on defense. It sounds like he's the clear cut back up to Cash. That's what he should be. He didn't really get to be a point guard last season. Dion Dixon handled the ball when Cash was out. He matured a lot as the season progressed. He can play.
Mick's comments about Justin Jackson were very disappointing. He was either an impact player, or he was a guy standing in the corner on offense. It's easy to remember the blocks and the dunk backs. Do you remember what he did against Florida State? Against Texas? That's because he didn't do anything. I understand he's never going to be an offensive player. That doesn't bother me. UC has guys who can score. They need him to be a rebounding machine. He had 4 a game last year. Since he started a lot of games, that's not good enough. Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith joke all the time "What do you call a power forward who averages 4 rebounds a game? A small forward." Justin can block shots. He can make steals. He can make some bonehead decisions with the basketball. He has no refined offensive game. I love him as much as the next guy, but he's a junior. He's probably going to start. We need some stats to go with the #JUSTINJACKSONMEANFACE.
Jeremiah Davis and Kelvin Gaines were the only Bearcats not mentioned. Whatever Davis did to get in the doghouse after the West Virginia game, I don't know. He played quite a bit up until that game. He played double digit minutes just twice after that. One was in the blowout against St John's. I like his confidence. Hopefully he can get his way out of the hole. As for Gaines, he's still a project.
Alex Eppensteiner was not mentioned by Mick and nearly not mentioned by me. I wasn't going to ignore the chick magnet.
I think there are 93 days until basketball season. I love football. It's my favorite sport. But Cincinnati Bearcats basketball is one of my favorite things in the world. Get here quickly.