Bearcats Breakfast 1.10.11

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A bit of a rude awakening on Sunday for the Bearcats. They lost in a place where every team in the Big East has lost for the past three years. They lost in place where Villanova has won 45 times in a row.

They were within seven points late in the second half of a game where they shot 2 of 20 from 3-point range and 15 of 25 from the free throw line.

It could have been worse. But those are the types of scenarios you need to overcome to win against the upcoming level of competition. 

As Mick Cronin admitted after the game, this team wasn't ready for what it found itself in on Sunday afternoon. There was no game even close to it in intensity on the team's schedule to this point.

"We just weren't in this type of dogfight before," Cronin said on postgame radio. "And by the time we adjusted to the dogfight, we were down."

Cronin blamed himself for a pre-conference schedule that didn't include enough (any) games that pushed the Bearcats from tip to horn. Dayton, Xavier and Oklahoma were supposed to, but they didn't.

He talked pretty in-depth about that to Bill Koch. The lone non-radio team media member to make the trip to Philly, as far as I can tell.

--- A few stats of note. The Bearcats weren't making 3-pointers, but just kept hoisting them up in the first half. The poor shot selection was reminiscent of last season chucking up a 3-point shot was default mode for an offensive possession 

In particular, Rashad Bishop finished 1 of 7 from 3-point range.

UC shot nine 3-pointers in the first 15 minutes of the game.

When UC settled down and attacked the bucket in the second half, they started drawing fouls and scoring at a higher percentage. UC was far too passive before halftime, maybe that is a product of Cronin's "dogfight" theory, but it was painfully obvious.

--- Tough game for Dion Dixon. The Bearcats most consistent offensive weapon to this point, unfortunately, endured an off night. He was 3 of 14 from the floor and 0 for 5 from 3.

--- Yancy Gates had one shot in the first half. Can't happen. UC is significantly better when the ball runs consistently through him.  

--- In case you missed it, here is the game recap and some video highlights

--- The best writer covering college basketball, blog favorite Dana O'Neil, was on hand at Nova and had a video interview with Mick and some postgame analysis.

She focused on UC's need to contain its composure when things are going wrong. This team hadn't seen much in the way of adversity and needed to do a better job dealing with it in the first half. Of course, they did so in the second half.

--- The technical on Ibrahima Thomas was the largest part of O'Neil's argument. Thomas needs to keep his reactions to himself and losing him down the stretch was brutal. Nova extended multiple late possessions with offensive rebounds, including a couple of tip ins. UC certainly could have used its leading rebounder there.

It forced Justin Jackson to play 22 minutes. Those were his most minutes since the season opener against Mount St. Mary's. He played eight minutes or less in five of the last six games.

He performend relatively well, all things considered. His box score line doesn't display his effect (as it often doesn't with Jackson) but he had three points, three boards, two steals and an assist.

"Justin Jackson (22 minutes) was probably the biggest bright spot of the day," Cronin said. "He pressed very effectively." 

--- While there is no right time to play at Villanova these days, UC catches USF at the perfect time. The Bulls have now lost six in a row after falling against Louisville on Sunday.

--- Bill Koch touches on Ibrahima Thomas' reaction the team accentuating the positive in his notebook.

--- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger says we were supposed to learn if UC was legit on Sunday. And came away inconclusive. As I stated on Friday, this will be much better judged as the five-game body of work. So far, 0-1. USF, SU, ND and STJ await.    

--- UC may have had a beef with some of the foul calls, but by the end of the game, Nova had all five starters with four fouls. This from Joe Juliano of the Philly Inquirer.

--- Tommy G has this feature on of Cashmere Wright. Great stuff, per usual.

--- Thanks to the Bearcats Twitterverse for passing along KenPom's UC Bearcats page with all the statistical analysis you could want on the team. Most interesting -- Yancy Gates isn't even ranked in offensive efficiency. Cashmere Wright is ranked 17th in the country in steal percentage.

--- Six ranked teams lost to unranked teams on the road this weekend. I doubt anybody is getting down on UK or Mizzou.

UC lost on the road to the No. 7 team in the country. No shame in it. .

---  RPI rankings are still pretty scandalous at this time of year (see Georgetown ranked 3rd and Pitt 10th?!?) but, here is a look Lance McAlister put together of UC's opponents and their rankings.

Ahead for UC
Record: 15-1/Big East: 2-1.........15 games remaining: 8 road/7home
If UC goes 8-7 the rest of the way they would have a winning Big East record (10-8) and be 23-8 heading into the Big East tournament.
127.....(6-11) South Florida
4.... ...(16-0) @ Syracuse
9...... .(14-2) @ Notre Dame
12.... .(10-4) @ St. John's
112....(10-5) Rutgers
10..... (15-1) @ Pittsburgh
239... (6-9) @ DePaul
12.... (10-4) St. John's
42.... (13-2) Louisville
95.... (11-6) @ Providence
3...... (12-4) @ Georgetown
15.... (10-4) West Virginia
6...... (12-2) Connecticut
86.....(11-5) @ Marquette
3...... (12-4) Georgetown

--- The good folks at Fox19, including Brian Giesenschlag put together this fantastic piece on Josh Schneider, who is quietly becoming one of the best swimmers in the world. He recently broke an American record for anybody who hadn't heard. 

London 2012 can't arrive soon enough for him.

--- How about some randomness...

--- I find it hilarious Ron Franklin says he's "taking the high road" considering he arrived here by taking Sweet Baby Highway to A-hole Avenue. 

--- I guess there is some kind of football game tonight. Pat Forde writes about how Oregon turned cool into a national power.  

--- Marshawn Lynch with one of the nastiest runs you'll ever see. Big Lead gave it the Tecmo Bowl treatment.    

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Hey Paul;

Love Bearcat Breakfast but I've got to step in and take issue with some of the coverage of UC's loss to NOVA. First, I found the tone of Dana O'Neill's piece down right condescending. This ain't the Bearcats first rodeo in a tough B.East venue. They understand the battle that is conference play.

What is offensive is the notion that some of the foul calls weren't "reprehensibly egregious" (meaning they were some milder form of egregious?). While i disagree with that opinion, Justin Jackson getting shoved to the ground, Dion Dixon getting shoved in front of the ref and then being CALLED for a foul as just two examples; my bigger issue is with the non-calls which had a more significant impact on the game.

NOVA likes to pressure the perimeter and collapse the lane if anything manages to get inside. They play a very physical brand of man to man. The amount of leeway they received from the officials in the first half, in my opinion, led directly to the Bearcats settling for wide open treys despite having a poor shooting day.

if you think about it, why bother driving the lane, trying to curl off of screens or post up in the paint when it's guaranteed that you will get hacked, grabbed or tripped and as likely not to receive a foul call for your troubles. Doing so is tantamout to an empty possession. You are way better off trying to shoot a wide open trey. At least you aren't being hacked and when you are fouled they have no choice but to blow the whistle, as was the case for Dixon and Bishop.

Secondly, the fact that all 5 NOVA starters ended up with 4 fouls is not indicative of officiating balance. if they measured the number of correct calls against incorrect calls against non-calls and compared NOVA's ratio to UC's ratio then a conclusive statement could be drawn about the officiating. Stating that all 5 starters had 4 fouls is a statement of fact indicative of nothing.

Keep up the good work, Paul.