Today has to be one of the worst Mondays of the year. Most of you have been off since Thursday, you've likely taken significant steps backward in your family life after insulting an in-law and the fridge smelled a little too much like old cranberries when you were pulling out a bottle of water this morning.
The morning felt all the more troubling for me since Leslie Nielsen died last night at 84. Sad to see him go, he was one of the greatest comedic actors of all time. Nobody played the fool better.
So, to cheer you up, block your mother-in-law's phone number for the next eight minutes and enjoy the best moments of the Naked Gun Trilogy.
RIP Enrico Pollazzo, now time for some Breakfast...
--- Feeling better this Monday will only come from reading more about the Bearcats domination of Dayton.
There have been fewer more impressive performances against a respected program than the one we witnessed on Saturday night. Prior to the game there were reasons for cautious optimism. After Saturday, you can drop the cautious. You saw a glimpse of what this team can be. Playing relentless defense will be their calling card and if they can hit shots -- they can beat anybody.
That will be the question. On Saturday, they did. The Bearcats put a signifcant amount of pressure on themselves surrounding this game and rose up to play one of the gems of the Mick Cronin era. And all of it with Yancy Gates barely being a factor with foul trouble.
--- My new super-intern from Ohio U. Will Frasure covered for me while I was flying the friendly skies back from East Hartford. Here's his take on the resounding statement win.
--- The always active Gary P. left a comment that called Dayton another cupcake as part of the cupcake conference schedule.
Sure, the non-conference slate is pretty weak. It continues with Wright State on Wednesday, who did push Richmond (66-61 L) a day before the Spiders upended Purdue, 65-54.
Oklahoma doesn't strike fear into anybody and they are the most recognizable name of those remaining not named Xavier.
But, I wouldn't call Dayton a cupcake. I can't tell you what happened to the Flyers on Saturday. Tom Archdeacon points out the explanations are they weren't giving the same effort as UC. Doug Harris writes about UD's poor practices. And it's always easy to blame 20 percent shooting.
This Dayton team drove down I-75 with a highly regarded freshman point guard and veteran cast surrounding him -- including Chris Wright, who will likely be an NBA Draft pick next year.
Hardly a cupcake. Plus, it would have been worth talking about even if UC beat a directional school with the convincing style of the 68-34 victory.
The non-confernce portion leaves a bit to be desired, but the confidence that comes from a win like this can go a long way. And when you play in the Big East, nobody will be doubting your schedule when they scan the resume in March.
--- With a win at Oklahoma and taking caring of business against teams the Bearcats will be heavily favored to beat could put them at 12-0 entering Big East play.
That still won't mean much. The Big East -- doubted all offeseason -- is owning the early portions of the year and appears to be as brutal as always.
As Cronin said last week, "our fate will be decided in the Big East."
Mike DeCourcy was at US Bank Arena and wrote about UC stacking up in Big East play. Mike points out the league is 71-17 against outside opponents, has the highest strength of schedule and No. 1 conference in RPI.
--- Paul Daugherty discusses the possibility the Bearcats may actually be pretty good thanks to their depth.
I'd imagine a few heads turned at that final score. I'll be interested to see the crowd at Fifth Third on Wednesday against Wright State. The attendance hovered around 4k the first four games. Will there be a few more people on the bandwagon now?
Of course, the national disrespect will likely continue until BE play.
--- Cronin talked about the Red and Black team (starters/backups) don't always have the same result. Many days the backups come away with the win. Ten players had double-digit minutes on Saturday.
Hard to argue that type of defensive effort doesn't at least in some way stem from how fresh the guys are out there. It's the advantage to having so many interchangable parts.
"There's many ays where the red team beats the black team," Cronin said. "You don't see that at a lot of practices. In the past, I've had to break team's up to up the competitiveness and cohesiveness. The black team, they don't usually dominate practice. Usually, if you do that, your starters will crush the other team, and our red team actually wins. It's good because, like I've told (Sean) Kilpatrick, I can sub you in on the black team, but you can become a scorer and leader for the red team. That's really helped us. Guys are buying into their roles and are coming along well mentally."
--- Here's the News-Record gamer with Patrick Strang's photos on the right. How about those 1960 throwbacks? Nice touch. After the way they played in them, I am thinking bringing those guys back for a Big East blockbuster would be a smart idea.
--- How about Darnell Wilks? He'd been very quiet through the first four games, but made every hustle play imaginable in the win.
It didn't go unnoticed by Cronin, despite Wilks not connecting on a field goal.
"I don't know if Darnell's played a better game as a Bearcat," Cronin said. "He might not understand what I mean by that, but his defense on Chris Wright and his execution on switching really rattled him. He kept some balls alive and used his athleticism well. It takes time to get guys to understand that that's how they can be effective. Making shots can be one way, but that's not the only way. You can always be aggressive and use your athleticism, and he used his athleticism tonight."
Wilks finished with six rebounds, five assists, a steal and perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the FT line.
--- Ibrahima Thomas was assisted to the locker room during the game. Thomas will be fine. Cronin said after the game it was only cramps.
--- The big news surfacing on Monday was that TCU will join the Big East as an all sports member in 2012-2013. Great news for the Big East and the future of a Big East Network with yet another nice market in the mix.
As for college hoops, I'm sure everyone is on pins and needles to see the contentious TCU-Seton Hall battles. Also, the scheduling will only become tougher. But without TCU, there was a chance there would be no BE at all, so any complaints should probably be muzzled.
--- As for UC football in Hartford, unfortunately, there's not much left to say. Here was my postgame column assessing the aftermath of the official elimination from bowl contention.
--- Vidal Hazelton made the trip, practiced in warmups and was dressed all game. He did not play. The fact he was even cleared to play just 84 days since his ACL injury is one of the best stories of the year.
Jones said he is erring on the side of caution and Hazelton may play a few snaps against Pittsburgh.
--- The Pittsburgh game will be a noon kickoff for Senior Day at Nippert. The Panthers will have something to play for. If they win and UConn and WVU lose, then they would be the Big East BCS representative at 7-5. That sentence really describes the entire Big East 2010 season.
--- Armon Binns became the eighth WR in UC history to surpass 1,000 yards in a season. Mardy Gilyard did it last season.
--- The volleyball team learned its fate for the NCAA tournament on Sunday. UC (29-5) will be heading to University of Illinois for an opening round match against Western Kentucky (27-5) on Friday. If they win, they will face the winner of Austin Peay and Illinois.
--- How about some randomness.....
--- I'm going to subsitute in a bowling league tonight, I'm sure it will go something like this.
--- Not sure how this is happening in Alaska and not Jersey.
--- The Daily Show sings, a lot. Here's a compilation. The Jon Stewart-choir song to Bernie Madoff may be the single greatest moment in the history of the show.
--- Can somebody get Kanye West some new material? Maybe he can start a beef with Justin Bieber.
--- The golf course is a sanctuary for old men. If you enter it and disturb the piece, you will invoke rage. And sneaky quickness.
--- I love the concept of Facebook Flash mobs. But I think I would be walk out midway through this one....right after I bought two Beef N Cheddars from Arby's.