Sleepless Night Results In Better Offense

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After his team's lousy performance in Birmingham on Wednesday, Mick Cronin knew he wasn't going to be able to sleep, so he put his insomnia to good use by staying up all night and watching every minute of every Bearcat game this season in hopes of finding ways to be more productive offensively.


"There are things in that game that were embarrassing for me," Cronin said.  "Shot selection is something I pride myself on as a coach - my teams are going to play smart.  Any coach wants to feel like his teams are going to play smart basketball and we were disoriented at UAB.  We had to get ourselves back on the same page in order to take high-quality shots."


But two days of extensive work on the offensive end at practice did not produce early results on Saturday against Lipscomb as the Bearcats did not make a field goal for the first 6 ½ minutes. 


"I thought there was a possibility that we would come out and freeze because guys were so determined to run the offense that they weren't trying to score when it was there," Cronin said.  "Early in the game there was a lot of ball movement but nobody was looking to shoot."


Eventually, the Bearcats began to take - and make - good shots, shooting 54% from the floor in an 80-52 win over the Bisons.


"We had 21 assists today which is a direct reflection of ball movement and execution," Cronin said.  "You could see that the conviction to try to share the ball more was there today."


"You have to get guys to believe in letting the offense work," Mick told me.  "You have to hang on to your execution in tough times and not hang on to the bravado of, 'I'll grab the ball and go score.'  We have to rely on our execution.  Because we really got away with not executing in Maui, we hadn't become a team that really understood that yet.  Although I was very unhappy with the result at UAB, I do think it's going to make us a better team."


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Ibrahima Thomas made his first start as a Bearcat on Saturday and played 18 productive minutes, finishing with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.


"Everybody saw the real guy that's got a chance to be a really good player and help us a lot," Cronin said.


But with Big East play looming in less than two weeks, the Yancy Gates who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds in Maui, needs to grab a return flight from the Islands.  On Saturday, Gates played four ineffective minutes in the first half (0 points, 0 rebounds) and stayed on the bench for the rest of the game.


"I love everybody in that locker room and I love Yancy as much as the rest of those guys, but we needed a win," Mick told us after the game.  "It doesn't matter who you are.  If I feel that you're not ready to play - you're not sprinting down the floor, you're not playing with strength - we have to go with somebody else.  Hopefully he'll come back and respond and practice hard and get ready to play on Tuesday.  As a coach, you've to play the guys that give you the best chance to win and that's really all I try to do."


Cashmere Wright also saw limited minutes.  Deonta Vaughn started at point guard and Jaquon Parker - who barely played in the previous two games - was the first point guard off the bench.  Wright eventually got into the game in the second half and played a total of nine minutes.


"Our point guards had eight turnovers combined which has to get rectified in a hurry before Big East play starts," Cronin said.  "Our point guards are better players than that.  Their decisions are the problem right now.  They had no forced turnovers.  They didn't get trapped.  Those were all turnovers where they either made a bad pass on their own, or drove too deep.  They just elected to do that.  They have got to start seeing the floor and stop staring at their target because the defense is reading their eyes like a free safety in football.  You cannot win in the Big East with your point guards turning it over eight times in a game.  It's not going to happen."


You know what results from point guards that turn the ball over?  More sleepless nights for their coach.


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