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"You Don't Win A Race In Cruise Control"

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One of the most frequent criticisms of the Bearcats over the last few years is that they shoot too many three-pointers.  But after watching the Syracuse and Notre Dame games, I'm starting to think that UC should shoot more of them.

 

What's the point of feeding the post, if you can't convert?

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that the 'Cats should pass the ball around the perimeter and ignore the paint, but with this team a wide-open three is probably a higher-percentage shot than a contested two.

 

Against Syracuse, Cincinnati was 7-for-31 (23%) inside the 3-point line (3-for-25 with 4:00 to go).  In the Notre Dame game, the Bearcats were 16-for-44 (36%) inside the arc.  That's a combined 23-for-75 (31%).  In the same two games, UC nailed 18-of-44 three-pointers (41%).

 

In other words, if the Bearcats are going to continue to attack the rim, they had better start doing it with more strength.

 

"When you get the ball to within two feet of the basket, you have to put it in," Mick Cronin said after the 66-58 loss at Notre Dame.  "If you don't make layups you're not going to win.  Pitt beat Syracuse the other night because when they got the ball inside against the zone they scored.  Nasir Robinson had 21 points.  Very few people know who Nasir Robinson is.  They know Pitt's basketball team, but they don't know him.  He's a tough kid that can make layups. 

 

"We're working hard to get better shots.  Notre Dame played man-to-man for the entire game and we only shot eight free throws.  That's unacceptable - we've got to get to the foul line.  Our shot selection is better, but we have to finish better.  In the first half, we were 9-for-27 inside the three-point stripe.  Somebody has got to put the ball in the basket from point-blank range."

 

At least Yancy Gates was aggressive offensively on Wednesday as he tied a career high with 16 field goal attempts, but he needs to take the ball toward the basket instead of falling away from it.  For a guy his size, Yancy attempts a shockingly-low number of free throws.  Consider this:  Notre Dame power forward Tyrone Nash, who is an inch shorter and 30 pounds lighter than Yancy, has attempted 108 free throws this year, while Gates has attempted 58.

 

Then there's Ibrahima Thomas who has been in a dreadful slump since scoring 12 points in the win over Seton Hall.  In the five games since, Thomas is 5-for-20 (25%) from the floor with at least two missed dunks and has scored a total of 10 points.

 

The Bearcats are trying to play "inside-out" on offense, but their recent inability to finish in the lane is a major reason why UC has been getting off to atrocious starts.  A change in the starting lineup for more offense could be in the works, but a change in mindset is just as important.

 

"Our intensity wasn't what it needed to be for the first 25 minutes of the game," Coach Cronin said.  "We're not dogging it, but I'm talking about beating a Top 25 team on the road.  Part of our inability to put the ball in the basket is intensity.  That's part of being locked in.

 

"We're a different team when we're down.  It can't be the way.  You can't drive on cruise control.  You don't win a road race that way.  That's the safe way to drive home, but that's not the way to win the Indianapolis 500.  Whoever goes the fastest wins.  We have to go full-speed all of the time.  I love my team and they're fun to coach, but you see our intensity level change after we fall behind.  If we're going to get over the hump and be able to win these kinds of games on the road, we have to play that way for 40 minutes."

 

* * * * *

 

When I arrived at the airport for the team flight to South Bend on Tuesday, I was stunned to see Larry Davis walk in on crutches.  The Bearcat senior had to be helped off of the floor that afternoon after his surgically-repaired left knee buckled at practice.

 

"Larry took a hard fall and we were scared," Coach Cronin said.  "He is the fastest healer of all-time as he has self-proclaimed.  Even when he was writhing in pain, he was declaring that he would play.  I thought there was no possible way until he was dunking the ball in the shoot-around on Wednesday morning.  He is officially the fastest healer in history."

 

Davis played 16 minutes against the Irish and hit 1 of 2 treys.  For the season, Larry is 23-of-49 (47%) from outside the arc to rank third in the Big East behind Louisville's Chris Smith and Georgetown's Austin Freeman.

 

I'd love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com

 

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

 

And I have finally joined Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

 

Enjoy this week's photo of young Sam, proudly displaying a LEGO masterpiece.

 

Sam with LEGO masterpiece.jpg

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