I spent quite a bit of time on campus yesterday taking in the mini-basketball media day as well as the conclusion of UC's football practice. One thing occured to me as the disappointment from there being no lemonade at Chick-fil-a sunk in, was all the teams in sports that thrived after the loss of bigtime players. Some of the great teams of all time did so, in fact.
The thought process sparked from hearing Mick Cronin, Sean Kilpatrick and Yancy Gates talk about making up for the loss of Lance Stephenson and Deonta Vaughn.
You don't even have to leave campus to realize that. UC won two national titles right after the Big O left.
The 2001 Mariners won 116 games after losing Ken Griffey Jr., A-Rod and Randy Johnson the years prior.
Not to bring this program up, but Xavier enjoyed one of its best seasons in 2004 after David West and his National Player of the Year award departed for the NBA. They made the Elite 8 and nearly toppled No. 1 seed Duke to make the Final Four.
The list goes on and on.
Not to say Stephenson and Vaughn were the caliber of the players mentioned above, but they were the key cogs in the Bearcats system last year.
With experience at key positions, the possible emergence of Yancy Gates on the horizon and an early-season schedule conducive to building confidence, that would create a nice setup for the team to build a powerful, new identity very fast.
Whether it happens or not is yet to be seen.
It's amazing what a lack of lemonade will do to your brain.
--- I wrote about the team's outlook of the run defense after Bilal Powell gouged them for 215 yards on Friday. It was the first time all year we saw the UC run defense struggle with anyone.
--- Scott Springer posts a preview of the Scott Springer Bowl. Since he owns degrees from both schools, he earns the title. If only we could come up with a Keg O'Lies-type trophy to designate it. Maybe a signed photo and set list from his favorite Bruce Springsteen concert.
Regardless, he takes you in-depth into the matchups and reminds everyone that I look like Trent Dilfer. Which I actually enjoy. Except for the lack of wealth, prestige and rings I own in comparison to him.
--- Brian Bennett posted his power rankings. The Bearcats jumped up to No. 2 and the supposed preseason powers have creeped back to the top after demoralizing non-conference losses.
Pitt's 45-14 win at Syracuse may have been more of an indictment on USF than the Cuse. Maybe the Cuse are who we thought they were and their win at USF was nothing more than beating up on what apparently is a lifeless football team right now on offense (15 points combined in the last two games)
For UC's sake, it hopes that's true.
--- B-twice also has love for Armon Binns in his review/preview.
--- Bill Koch writes about protecting the football . UC is currently (minus)-6 in turnover ratio after being plus-9 last season.
Zach Collaros played safe with his passes until the Louisville game. The two picks doubled his total for the season.
D.J. Woods scared himself into ball security after the problems against Oklahoma, so the situation improved. But it is a major concern.
--- The Tampa Tribune talks about UC expecting a stiff USF defense.
--- As a reminder, Friday's game against USF is a Ring of Red game. So, dress accordingly. With it being a Friday night and considering that women are more attracted to men who wear red, well, it could be a win-win for male Bearcats fans. .
--- I completely missed this on Friday, but Paul Daugherty wrote this piece on Isaiah Pead for SI. Good stuff.
--- The kickoff for homecoming against Syracuse is noon. Great news for early risers and for sports writers who suddenly have a Saturday night available.
--- Chad Brendel at 247sports has a story on the maturity of Yancy Gates. That storyline was the talk of media day yesterday -- and rightfully so.
Gates is down to 265 after playing around 270, 275 last year and says he can feel the difference just walking to class.
The best line I heard to define how different Gates' focus and attitude differs this season came from Mick Cronin.
"Now I don't have to coach his attitude and effort," he said.
"He was our hardest worker in every strength and conditioning session according to Dave Andrews, for the last five months. To a point where he stopped conditioning sessions with strength and conditioning with no coaches present to redo drills because he didn't think we were doing it hard enough. To say that's a 180 is an understatement."
The light appears to have popped on for Gates, who went on to say he believes he belongs on the Preseason All-Big East team. He probably won't be there when it comes out this week.
"Just more motivation to prove people wrong," Gates said.
--- Former UC soccer star Omar Cummings continues to tear it up for the Colorado Rapids. Colorado earned a playoff berth and Cummings scored another goal.
--- For some randomness, first off, I can't believe I didn't know that they are filming Hangover 2. The details are that this time the four guys -- everyone is back -- end up in Bangkok, Thailand. And Mel Gibson makes a cameo.
--- Who knew MC Hammer and Jay-Z were fueding. But since they are, we all might as well make fun of it.