This Monday could have been filled with some dreary predictions about a steep uphill climb for the Bearcats. It could have been filled with agitated accounts of ways in which the Bearcats saw another opportunity squandered. It could have been another jumping off point for fan base frustration.
Thank you, Yancy Gates.
The discussion could have turned to the 17 turnovers. It could have turned to losing four consecutive games against quality opponents. It could have pointed out another slow start.
Thank you, Yancy Gates.
Mick Cronin called it probably the biggest shot of Gates' Cincinnati career and on this morning it feels hard to argue.
With one patient, turnaround bank, Gates revitilized the energy created during the first half of the season and temporarily replaced memories of so many brutal blows delivered in close losses last season. Namely, one against that same Red Storm.
Thank you, Yancy Gates.
To give Gates all the credit would be unfair. The collective defensive performance in holding St. John's to 51 points deserves some recognition. The offensive aggression of Cashmere Wright during a lull in the second half reminded everyone why he's leading this team. And if not for the incredible bench minutes provided by Justin Jackson and Biggie McClain in the first half, well, my inbox would be pumped full of some venom.
Yet, when provided one final opportunity, Gates showed a maturity those who've followed his career since he was 14 years old long desired. He didn't rush. He didn't force a prayer. He took his time and when presented with solid defense used his size to put up a shot with contact.
Much like this win, it wasn't pretty. But much like this win, it was darn effective. And much like this win, at the end of the day nobody cares how it looked.
Thank you, Yancy Gates.
--- Cronin spoke in the postgame about how hard he has been pushing Wright lately. He said on radio they "had a rough couple days of practice." Cronin wants his point guard to be the aggresor and a playmaker.
Many times Wright becomes preoccupied with running the offense and forgets he should be a major part of that. He didn't during the second half stretch where Wright's personal eight-point spurt put UC ahead 44-37.
--- As if St. John's 12 of 26 mark from the free throw line didn't drop your jaw enough, through the seven previous conference games, the Red Storm shot 81 percent from the line. That stat is as unbelievable today as it was Saturday.
--- This win, like many this year, had depth written all over it. UC used 11 players, 10 of which played at least eight minutes. Eight players scored points -- shockingly, one of the three that didn't was leading scorer Dion Dixon.
--- When the Bearcats look back during the early afternoon of Selection Sunday, that win at St. John's could be the difference between feeling confident and sweating bullets. There will be plenty more opportuntities to say that as the season progresses, but this was the first one.
--- I thought there was some very honest, revealing conversation from Cronin about Sean Kilpatrick on Saturday.
Kilpatrick struggled mightily on Saturday, being held without a field goal in his return to New York. It continued his feast or famine trend of the season. And Cronin had this to say as far as why he hasn't started Kilpatrick to this point:
"Sean Kilpatrick is a freshman," Cronin said on 700WLW. "As you know everybody has all the answers but the people who get paid to do this. People say play Sean Kilpatrick 30 minutes, like he's Carmelo Anthony. He's a freshman, I redshirted him last year. He's a good player.
"He's a guy that puts too much pressure on himself. That's part of the reason I bring him off the bench."
--- For the record, right now every single major Bracketology predictor has UC in the tournament. They average out to a No. 8 seed. (H/t BearcatsNews message poster for the site).
--- At this point in the season, the RPI is barely worth the paper it's printed on. UC is ranked No. 38 and Xavier somehow is slotted at 27. Whose No. 1 you ask? No, not undefeated Ohio State. Not defending champ with one loss Duke.
BYU. The fighting Jimmers. And as excited as I am to see the result of BYU and SD State on Wednesday, nobody can convince myself that BYU is the No. 1 team in the country.
Can we stop talking about the RPI until we are within a week of Selection Sunday please. It takes so long for that system to flesh itself out it's absurd.
--- Interesting weekend across the Big East, to be sure. Road teams finally had their day. UC, Villanova and Rutgers were all road underdogs and all pulled out wins.
Also, Providence pulled out the shocker of the weekend with an upset of No. 19 Louisville for their first BE win of the season.
--- Rutgers will be feeling good about itself when they arrive in Cincinnati on Wednesday. They just pulled off a 66-60 road upset at Seton Hall. That's two in a row. Don't look now, but the Rut is only one game back of the Bearcats in the Big East standings.
--- WVU comes to Fifth Third on Saturday. They will be with one extra open seat on their bench since reserve forward Danny Jennings apparently walked out on the team during the middle of their game against USF on Sunday.
That's barely a story, Huggins reaction to it is such vintage Huggs, however, I wanted to link it up for you.
"I understand you have to report it and that's fine, but can we talk about the guys who play?" Huggins said. "Because he didn't play anyway. And hasn't played.
"The truth of the matter is he's been a non-entity. You know, we started him to try to get some other guys motivated and things, and he did work hard in practice for a while, but he hasn't -- I mean, look at his career stats. We didn't just lose Kevin Jones. You know what I'm saying? It's a sidebar."
--- Quick break from basketball. The East-West Shrine Game was this weekend. Armon Binns played and had one catch for 11 yards.
Unfortunately, the review from Todd McShay wasn't gleaming of his performance.
--- NFL Draft analyst Chad Reuter had better things to say about UC's Jason Kelce. Here's the Twitter post:
"ChadReuter Cincy C Jason Kelce is one of my favorite linemen in this draft. Attitude, quickness...not much girth, but plays strong."
Kelce, along with Jake Rogers, are the only two Bearcats who will be at the Scouting Combine in Indy.
--- Former UC assistant Mike Tomlin will make his second Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. There will be some more Bearcats flair across Jerry's World with UC's Brandon Underwood playing for the Packers.
Underwood made two solo tackles in Green Bay's win against Chicago in the NFC championship.
--- How about some randomness....
--- Go ahead, you laugh at the McRib. McDonald's will be busy swimming through its money pit like Scrooge McDuck.
--- Blog favorite Alfonso Ribiero performed The Carlton Dance at the Orlando Magic game on Friday. Not shockingly, it was awesome.
--- One man is suing, but really, this should be the new slogan for the city of Las Vegas.
--- Thad Matta knows how to work up a sweat.