The season Lance Stephenson is experiencing fascinates me.
There was the hype before he ever stepped foot on campus - "Born Ready" and the legal trouble and the questions about whether he'd be even eligible to play this year. There was the hype in the preseason when those who saw him play in open gym or in summer leagues said the hype about his talent (and, I suppose, his born readiness) was legit.
was the hype that followed the
"Enjoy him while you can," was the thought espoused by many Bearcats fans. "He might be one-and-done and off to the NBA after the season is over."
Three months later, after watching Stephenson average 11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 28.7 minutes per games, how do you feel now about those preceding statements? There's little doubt Stephenson has an NBA-type body - that was what struck me first when I saw him in a preseason intrasquad scrimmage - and that he has NBA-type moves and NBA-type athleticism.
But we've learned much about Stephenson since the Bearcats started playing - the most-striking (and somewhat-surprising), is that Stephenson doesn't perform like a one-and-done kind of guy. When it comes to actually playing basketball, he's been nothing more than a pretty good freshman.
As Mick Cronin has said this season, there are very few freshmen in existence that have the skills and knowhow to take over a game as rookies - players like Kentucky's John Wall and Demarcus Cousins come to mind. Most tend to struggle sooner or later - or both.
Which is where Stephenson stands at this point. At times, he looks tentative. At times, he looks unsure of himself. At times, frankly, he looks lost on the court.
example occurred last Sunday vs.
the second half,
Coming off two-straight games where Stephenson didn't start the ballgame - his abdominal strain notwithstanding - and with Cronin recently complaining about his defense, I wondered about the kind of progress the freshman is making.
"He had a
couple great practices (after the Notre Dame game)," Cronin said following the
This is not to say that Stephenson's talent has disintegrated. It's just that college basketball is completely different than anything he's ever experienced on the court. In a physical and a mental sense.
freshmen are like that, because every game is different," Cronin said. "It's
the first time he's seen
Something to think about anyway.
"They have the players," Boeheim said. "It's just fitting
them all together. That's difficult to do with so many new players. Stephenson
is a good player and (
The question is: how much more patience do Bearcats fans have?
--You know what we haven't done in a while? A mailbag. If you're interested, shoot me some questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll attempt to answer them. You have queries about the basketball squad, Butch Jones' football team, the reemergence of Mary Wineberg? Send them to me.