We've seen better weekends, but I hope Halloween helped raise all the Bearcats fans spirits. I know it helped me.
I learned a few lessons as the kids kept streaming to my front door -- one, Skittles are the overwhelming favorite over Teddy Grahams despite the delicious cinnamon coating to TGs. Two, apparently a high school boy in full-body cow costume won't easily be persuaded into hanging up the pillow case.
But it was fun, so I hope all of you enjoyed Trick or Treat and can pass on to your children the importance of Teddy Grahams in the future of America.
We can talk football, but first I want to open Monday with a little more optimistic topic.
--- UC basketball opens its season tonight with an exhibition against Carleton State. This is the same team they played in Canada. They are one of the premier teams north of the border.
It shouldn't be much of a challenge -- the final score was 87-70 in Canada -- and the Bearcats are much bigger physically. However, it will be interesting to see how this new offense scores. Catching a glimpse at Sean Kilpatrick for the first time will be fun as well.
What I think everybody wants to see, though, is the renewed Yancy Gates. It's no secret Gates needs to be an All Big East player if this team wants to return to the NCAA tournament. From what everybody says, he's turned the corner with his attitude. We'll see as the year progresses, but there's no denying his offseason habits changed.
I talked with Gates about what scared him straight and we got into the real assessments of his game by NBA scouts:
"That was the biggest part. At the end of the day every basketball player wants that chance to play at that level. Hearing what they had to see really motivated me to change."
As far as what they told Gates:
"I need to work on being more consistent with my play. I figured the way to be more consistent was to be in better shape."
Since his days at Withrow to arriving at Cincinnati expected by many to save the program, he's long been told how great he is at basketball. So, to hear criticism of why he wasn't good enough was at the very least a different feeling. But, he says it wasn't difficult.
"Not tough to hear. I take it as positive criticism. It's criticism to help me, it's not tough to hear, it's what I needed to hear."
Gates talked the talk better than at any time during his career. Tonight, we'll start to see if he walks the walk.
--- Mike DeCourcy wrote this story about Gates' turnaround last week. As always with Mike, good read.
--- If you don't make it down to Fifth Third, the game will be streaming live right here at GoBearcats.com.
--- Kevin Youklis was in the house this weekend. I hardly recognzied him without his signature facial hair.
--- There wasn't much good to say about Saturday's 31-7 loss to Syracuse and Dan Hoard didn't sugarcoat it. But he did ask that fans be loyal to the team and not turn on them. Frustration is understood, but Saturday at Nippert sounded all too much like Sunday at Paul Brown in terms of the booing and negativity.
--- Bill Koch addressed that negativity and state of the program in his Sunday gamer.
--- Obviously Brian Bennett didn't walk away from Nippert impressed on Saturday. He moved UC to the bottom of the BE power rankings.
--- He also says Syracuse is here to stay. Hard to disagree with him. They have a defense amnog the best in the league and they do a good job of ball control on offense. They utilized their RBs and TEs in the running game as well as anybody I've seen all year.
--- OK, I promise this will be the last time we relive Saturday's loss, but I have some extra quotes from the postgame I figured I would share with you rather them see them disappear on my notepad:
Butch Jones on the performance of the team in relation to Chazz Anderson:
"We didn't help him. We weren't able to establish the run game, the turnovers, we knew we had to start fast. I knew we had to control field position and filp the field position and game. We weren't able to do that."
Butch Jones on where the program goes from here:
QB Chazz Anderson on the fumble on the exchange with Isaiah Pead:
"Sometimes you got to make sure the running back gets the ball. Regardless of what play it is, you have to make sure he gets the ball. I take full responsibility as well."
LB Walter Stewart on reacting to sudden change three times following turnovers:
"It is tough. It is tough when you have those sudden changes, but we are a team. We got to carry our weight just like the offense do. If they mess up, we have to cover up for them. So, we just got to play better."
--- In honor of the first hoops game of the season, here's the basketball highlight video shown on the scoreboard the past few years. I still perk up every time I watch Melvin Levett defy grafity and helicopter around the rim.