There have been a lot of little nuggets of news coming out today. Let's tackle those first. Secondly we will get to my thoughts on the Bearcats exhibition opener.
If you missed it last night, Walter Stewart's Cincinnati career is over. There may be a full write up about Walter tomorrow. When I say there may, there will be. Butch Jones had this to say about Walt, per the man Paul Dehner Jr:
Jones also said that Stewart would have a spot on his coaching staff. It's been a while since the news broke that Walt was done, but it's still sad. I hope things work out for him. He seems like a good guy.
In some better news, Greg Blair should be granted another year of eligibility. Blair was a junior college transfer. He hurt his leg last season, played in the Miami game, then got hurt again and missed the rest of the year. Blair has been a revelation for the Bearcats this season. He's a very important part of the team and I'm glad he's coming back. The NCAA must have read that I wanted him to come back, so they allowed it. Just like how Butch Jones said Munchie was going to run more after I wrote that yesterday. The influence of the Louisville recap will live on forever. It's clearly a real thing and not something I'm making up after all of these things coincidentally happen after I put them out in the universe. That's the secret, right? Where you put what you want out there and the universe gives it to you? If that is true, I should not be talking about football things. I should be trying to get the universe to hook me up with a pretty lady who likes football and the inane babblings of a nitwit, in this case me. You probably only have 2 things that come true and I wasted them both yesterday. Damn you, universe.
Google analytics has shown me before that people on the east coast have stumbled across the blog. For those directly affected by the storm and for those who know people in the path, you are in my thoughts.
Let's use this picture of Jermaine Sanders as a break between football and basketball.
The exhibition season opened with a win over Grand Valley State. The margin is not important. It was an expiation game against a clearly inferior opponent. Let's run through 5 things I was impressed with and a few things I was not.
Cheikh Mbodj looks like a completely different player. We all heard this talk over the summer. We hear talk about this stuff every year. But I'll be dammed if they didn't show 13 on the floor to start the game and he was almost unrecognizable. He looked leaner. His foot injury has cleared up, which allowed him to run the floor. He made a nice follow dunk. I don't think he jumped at all last season. I would have loved to have seen him demand the ball and score more against such a small opponent, 2-3, 4-7 FTs for 8 points, but he looked good.
Titus Rubles had an impressive debut. He has a smooth looking jumper. He nailed a couple of 3s. He rebounded well with 8 of them. He had a couple of assists. There were a couple of negatives, he turned the ball over a couple times. He took an NBA range 3 early in the shot clock and was immediately yelled at by Mick Cronin. It was his welcome to the team.
Cashmere Wright must have spent the summer working on the 3 ball because that's pretty much all he shot. He was 4-8 with 3-7 being from 3. He had 13 and 4 assists. Cash is a good player.
Sean Kilpatrick is also a good player. He had a team high 18 points. His shot wasn't honed in, 6-14, 2-7 from 3. He got to the free throw line 6 times. That was the most impressive part of his game to me. If he can get to the line 6-8 times a game this year, that's 6-8 points a game he can score in addition to his fine shooting. He also had 8 rebounds. The only thing I didn't like was that he played 36 minutes. That seemed like a bit much.
JaQuon Parker had 16-6-2. 4 of his rebounds were offensive. He was 5-12. He did make all 5 of his free throws. He took 17 shots in 23 minutes. Dude was in gunner mode.
Liked what we saw from the bench guys. Shaq Thomas rebounded well and made a couple of steals. Ge'Lawn Guyn was really looking for his shot and played very aggressively. He took 6 shots in 15 minutes. Jermaine Sanders had 5 points. Neither Guyn or Sanders made either of the 2 threes they attempted.
Only 10 turnovers. For the first game, that's great.
The student section was packed. It was a great sight. I don't care what they did to get to the game, the fact is they were at the game and it was cool.
Grand Valley State went right at the teeth of the Cincinnati defense. You can look at the box score and see that Mbodj had 5 blocks. He had quite a few in help defense. David Nyarsuk was not very good on defense. He had 4 fouls in 9 minutes. I know it was 1 game that didn't matter and that Justin Jackson didn't play, but the fact Grand Valley was not scared of the teeth of the defense wasn't calming.
The rebounding was poor. UC had 15 offensive rebounds, which is good. They gave up 12, which is bad. 3 of the starters had 6 or more boards, Rubles, SK and Parker, but the other starters combined for 3. Out of all the concerns people should have with the team this year, this is the biggest one.
Mbodj didn't rebound at all. He was outrebounded by Kelvin Gaines, who played 20 less minutes. Mbodj didn't have 1 defensive rebound. Not 1. There is no excuse for your center to not have a defensive rebound. Especially against a team like that.
Free throws. 18-28. Not good enough. Speaking of free throws, Kelvin Gaines will make 10% if he keeps that stroke. His free throw mechanics make Munchie's passing mechanics look like Tom Brady. Take a second to think of how bad that is, and now imagine how much worse Gaines' free throw stroke is. I could feel the chill go up your spine.
That was pretty much it. I'm not worried about a scoring option off the bench because Rubles will start the season coming off the bench. Thomas missing layups is something that probably won't happen a lot in the future.