Cronin considering lineup changes

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Mick Cronin hinted in the postgame radio show at Syracuse and spoke more openly at his media availability on Monday about possible changes in the starting lineup.

Last season, Cronin was notorious for swapping the starting lineup game by game, but this year has been consistent. Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, Rashad Bishop, Yancy Gates and Ibrahima Thomas have been the starters for all but two games.

Three games in a row where the Bearcats saw slow starts not only at the top of the game, but to open the second half. Syracuse opened the second half with a 16-0 run that buried the Bearcats.

Cronin and his staff spent the weekend evaluating options in the lineup.

"We as a staff spent time looking at lineup changes, things we could do to start the game off a little bit better," Cronin said. "But when you evaluate the film, we got great shots. My concern is our defense. Our defense and rebounding are things we can control and the reason we were undefeated was our defense. We had to get back to keeping our focus totally on defense and being a great defensive team."

Reading between the lines of Cronin's initial broach of the subject made it seem the results were inconclusive for why the starters struggled to score to open the game and the half -- outside of missing open shots. Any moves would be to accentuate his re-emphasis on defense.

In purely speculative nature, that could mean Dion Dixon moving to point and Larry Davis starting at the two. Davis is a tenacious defender. Against Notre Dame, who likes to spread you out and move the ball around, it might also be logical for Darnell Wilks to start over Yancy Gates, who is nursing a sore ankle.

(Cronin said Gates ankle was still sore on Monday, "but he's fine.") 

Cronin went on to state the changes this Wednesday would be more strategic than disciplinary.

"You always got to try to get better," Cronin said. "Also, you got matchups at times. (Notre Dame coach Mike Brey) could elect to start (G Eric) Atkins as an extra ballhandler. They could also start Joey Brooks instead of Atkins, so it could depend on what they do. They've started small or started bigger guys.

"Yeah, it's about matchup purposes to matchup with their motion offenses. Obviously, we have some concerns."


Many fans are calling for Sean Kilpatrick to move into the starting lineup as he develops into one of the most consistent scorers on the team. He's averaging 10.1 points, knocked down 6 of his last 8 3-pointers and owns the best offensive rating on the team.

Kilpatrick logged at least 19 minutes in each of the last three games.

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