Nice win for the Bearcats last night, 76-51. First blowout of the season, so it was a welcome change for the players not to sweat the waning moments. And for the media folk.
I was proud to say I was a part of the process as ESPN 1530's Mo Egger came up with the idea to create UC's All-Allitteration team in honor of current Cats Dion Dixon and Justin Jackson.
Here's the squad we ended up putting together (I assume you are all on pins and needles):
Starting 5: Dick Dallmer, Steve Sanders, Bobby Brannen, Devan Downey and Derrick Dickey.
First three off the bench: Jackson Julson, Rick Roberson, Junior Johnson.
Coach: Promotion for George Jackson or possibliy allowing Charlie Coles to take on two SE Ohio teams (Hint: Yeah, there's no alliterate coaches)
Beat writer: Former Enquirer scribe Dustin Dow
Broadcasters: The powerful team of Matt Millen and Dan Dierdorf flop over to hoops!
Official: Distinguished collegiate ref Steve Skiles
What is the point of all this? The game got a little out of hand. We had some time to kill.
However, there were some developments that occured as we came up with the AA team (which is alliterration all in itself). So, let's eat there...
--- Cashmere Wright was the story. That's why I wrote this column. You should read it.
--- Dion Dixon came alive in the second half and finished the game with 14 points and 3 assists on 4 of 6 shooting from behind the arc.
Dixon struggled the first two games of the season following a strong exhibition season. Mick Cronin talked openly after the game about the work in progress it has been for him in pushing Dixon in how to handle adversity -- both in game and between games.
Right now, when Dixon doesn't get involved on offense his energy and body language falls off the map. That happened during a first half where he didn't contribute much on either end.
"I really got after Dion Dixon at halftime," Cronin said. "I was really unhappy with his body language. I am going to have to pull a Rex Ryan and institute a body language rule on him. Things don't go his way he looks liek a little kid in Mt. Lookout where soembody stole his dog. He gets down on himself. You got to play harder, you got to raise your intensity level. You can't feel sorry for yourself."
It's part of the growing process for Dixon who was promoted into the prominent role of starting shooting guard through a strong offseason. Dixon hasn't had to deal with struggles in-game before. In the past, he moved to the bench when the game went awry on him.
"I'm asking the guy to become somebody he hasn't been here," Cronin said. "But it's time, he's a junior, he has the ability. He's a another guy I have to stay after. I am learning how to deal with him. He doesn't take too good to me coaching him in a soft way. When I get after him he's a much better player."
Dixon said he wasn't discouraged after struggling the first two games. "Because I know that I will work at it and it will be all right."
Cronin actually took some exception to that, which I found to be an interesting look into their coach-player relationship.
"I wish he would have been more discouraged," Cronin said."Which is what I told him in shootaround today. I wish he would have been more discouraged. I didn't like his intensity in shootaround today. The guys I've coached, if they'd had had the first two games he had, the best players I've been around would have been about to have a nervous breakdown if they played that way the first two games."
Luckily, Dixon came around in the second half. His progress will be one to monitor on Wednesday against Savannah State.
--- Speaking of Savannah State, FAMU actually beat them earlier this season, which would infer they are pretty terrible. However, Savannah actually pushed Dayton to the limit last night, only losing, 61-59.
Savannah State missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Here's the gamer from Doug Harris at the DDN. Wild.
SSU was 317th of 344 in RPI last year and has only one win this season -- over an NAIA school.
--- Also, future non-confernece opponent Oklahoma showed they are much improved from last year's record. They hung close with No. 9 Kentucky until the final minute in Maui. UK pulled away late with free throws, 76-64.
--- Yancy Gates goes for a quiet 11 points, 11 rebounds. He had two double-digit rebound games last year. He has two in the first three games this year.
That's what we in the business (and pretty much everywhere) call an encouraging sign.
--- Sean Kilpatrick was named Big East Rookie of the Week on Monday. He averaged 17 points in his first two contests.
--- If you want more, here is the Bearcats post game presser where you can here all the penetrating questions from the scribes.
--- Some football news...
--- Vidal Hazelton will begin practicing in earnest today, according to Butch Jones. Yes, that Hazelton, the one who tore his ACL less than three months ago. It's been the fastest ACL healing progress I have ever seen.
Jones hopes to find out in the next few days what the possibiliy of gaining a sixth year would be for Hazelton.
--- UC holds its weekly press luncheon today, so look for more on the football game against UConn later in the day.
How about some randomness...
--- For a second, I wasn't sure how I felt that this story was at the top of the "Latest News" category on the front page of Cincinnati.com. Then I realized I love it almost as much as I love the Bed Intruder song. Which is a lot.