Redshirt freshman Cashmere Wright appears to have a better "handle" on his game of late (despite an ill-advised, Charles Williams-like dribble in the waning moments against Seton Hall). Being allowed in the interview room is one step in the right direction (guys in the doghouse are generally not). Also, Wright's minutes are on the way back up after undergoing some Mick Cronin "bench therapy".
All but anointed the starting point guard last year, the 32-points per game scorer in Savannah, Georgia high school games has not been announced with the starting five since the December disappointment at UAB. That has allowed Wright to take some things in.
" Right now, I think it's on the up," said Wright of his playing status. "I think it started (with) things going to fast for me. I think right now I'm starting to get accustomed to the game. I realize my role and what Coach Cronin wants from me. Just playing off instinct and not off just trying and thinking about things."
Wright hit in double figures in his first official game as a Bearcat (12 vs. Prairie View A&M) but has only hit that number one other time, coming off the bench against Miami (OH). While able to make some dramatic moves, he often wasn't able to finish them and like many Bearcats his shooting has not been as accurate. Wright's three-point shooting has improved but is only at 30 percent and his free throw shooting must improve as a point guard as that stands at just 54 percent.
That all comes after missing what would've been his freshman year with an injury.
"It wasn't a surprise for me, it was more of a surprise for other people," said Wright of the quickness you find in the college game. "I really knew that it was going to be harder than what everyone else thought it was for me. From watching last year and just being a part of the team, everything wasn't as easy as everybody thought it was."
Despite that preliminary knowledge, Wright has struggled and not played to his potential as have fellow freshmen Lance Stephenson and Jaquon Parker. Those three could make up the core of a very good future team, but for now, they're all undergoing adjustments.
In Wright's case, he's had to learn (again) while sitting. At least, this season he's not injured.
"When I first came in, I was stunned," said Wright of his early season struggles. "I was looking at,'I can do this,'. Then, when he put me on the bench I was more hungry and I realized I needed to work for what I had to get back where I was."
As easy as the game looks from the stands or from the bench, or in a high school recruit's eyes, it all becomes magnified upon stepping out on the floor. Cashmere Wright, one of the fastest players with the ball, has had to step back and shift gears to understand.
"It's slowed down tremendously for me right now," said Wright of his recent productivity.
"Coach Cronin started showing me things in the game film of how I could improve, and like where my mistakes are coming, and what do I do to cause my mistakes and how can I improve them."
Correspondingly, Wright's minutes have been back up with 23 against Cal State-Bakersfield and 15 against Seton Hall (where he shot 3-4 from the field, made his only trey and had a season-high five assists) although he was limited to nine minutes (2-2 shooting) in the epic "slippage" at St. John's.. Mick Cronin knows what Cashmere Wright's capable of and hopefully, by year's end, UC fans will see.
"I think everything since the UConn game, my confidence level has gone up, just knowing that I have the ability to play," said Wright of his newfound "Mojo". "Everything started to slow down and my confidence level's been rising ever since. I'm just looking for him to give me the minutes to play and everything will start to work out."
With several talented young
players, this season in the Big East has been trying at times.
However, once and if everyone gets on the same page, the results
could be fruitful come March. Once the mental and physical
challenges of the Big East are met, things could be looking up for
Bearcat fans (and gosh, isn't it about time?).
"You can't put too much pressure on yourself, because when you put too much pressure on yourself, that's when you perform worse," said Wright on topic many his age have heard time and again. " We just need to go out and perform like we were when we were in Maui and see what happens. Just play our hardest."
Actually, this time of year, life would be much simpler if we could all go back to Maui....