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UC-Dayton Rock 'N Roll Party

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Well, the season is over. And for many, that's quite a relief. Though some people I talked to after the game said the team lost all the goodwill it's built up the past few weeks with a subpar performance against Dayton, I disagree.

 

By winning three of their final five games, I think the Bearcats will go into the offseason with some momentum and a sense of what they'll need to accomplish next year to make the NCAA tournament.

 

Said Mick Cronin, reflecting on his squad's season: "We continued to progress. We really relied on a lot of young players with the freshmen and Yancy. A lot of close calls. It's tough when you're so close in building a program where we had to build it from, but we've improved it every year. But getting close is not where we want to be. That's the frustrating part. If you're me, you have to stay focused on the positive. At times, we were close to getting over the hump, but we didn't, and that's were the frustration comes in.  For the most part (in the past few weeks), we put our egos in our pocket and tried to scrap together and do what we had to do to get wins."

 

The sad aspect of tonight's game was that UC, once again, underestimated its opponent. As Cronin said, the Bearcats didn't start respecting the Flyers until they were losing by 15.

 

"Kids are funny," Cronin said "They were preseason top 25. They had Xavier beat until they had a technical foul in the A-10 tournament and they beat them by 30 two weeks before that, and that's a team that's in the Sweet 16. Guys don't know Dayton. That's part of it."

 

"They made a lot of shots early. You expend a lot of energy coming back. When you're trying to get over the hump and it's such a large number to come back from, fatigue comes into play. You cut it to one, and you run out of gas. What lesson did we learn? Lance just said it. We have to take people more seriously. As a unit, we have to come back next year with the mentality of a team that shows up every night with our defense and our preparation and be mature enough to understand that anybody can beat you."

 

--Senior guard Deonta Vaughn, who passed Danny Fortson for third place on the all-time scoring list tonight, was touched by the standing ovation he received from the crowd when he left the 5/3 floor for the final time.

 

"My four years have been great," Vaughn said. "All four years, I learned a lot about basketball. I matured a lot. I did a lot of great things to get this program back to where we needed it to be. I just like the program and where it's headed in the future. It started with me, (Marcus) Sikes, John (Williamson), Jamual (Warren), and everybody else. I get calls from them, because they still love the program. What we did was help rebuild the program."

 

I asked him if he felt that people recognized him for that.

 

"I feel like a lot of people recognized that," he said. "I get a lot of Facebook messages from fans that know me, telling me that. It's still good to know that a lot of people recognize that, people that aren't even from Cincinnati that tell me I had a great career. Even from some of the other coaches. It's great to have recognition like that."

 

--Mick said freshman point guard Jaquon Parker hyper extended his knee but didn't do any ligament damage. The team felt his absence tonight, though.

 

"Jaquon Parker's injury hurt us," Cronin said. "They were running fresh guys in, and Cash(mere Wright) and Deonta got tired."

 

--Stephenson said once again after the game that his plan is to return to UC for his sophomore season. I guess you can't really count on that until he's there in October for the beginning of practice, but he was pretty believable.

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