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Bearcats Breakfast 2.25.11

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With no media availability with Mick Cronin and players until 3 p.m. today and most of the fodder from the Georgetown win exhausted, I'm turning to some number crunching for today's Breakfast.

Before you run to pick up your picket signs that say "Death to KenPom" or "No shame hating offensive rating," give this a chance.

A few numbers have been running through my head lately. After seeing the UC defense befuddle Georgetown, I know it isn't the only time this year we've seen the Cats hold Big East teams far below their standard output.

So the question is this, which Big East team has shown the capability to most consistently dominate on the defensive end? Which team, when at its best, holds the most high end defensive potential? Is it the Bearcats?

According to Ken Pomeroy's numbers, UC has the best adjusted defensive rating in the Big East and No. 8 in the country. That includes the non-conference schedule. I won't get into that debate here, but obviously that creates an imbalance.

Just in conference play, UC's defense rating is third in the Big East.

We could go through and find individual PPP ratings for each team in each Big East game, but you would probably find me blacked out on the ground uncontrollably reciting the pythagorean theorem in math shock if I did that.

So, in more simpler terms, I took a look at who was responsible for the three worst offensive outputs of the season of each team in Big East play.  

My completely unscientific formula of calculating it was as such: I awarded three points for holding a team to its worst output of the season, two points for the second worst and one point for the third worst. (Ties were split into halves)  

This brings tempo and style into play, but also shows an ability to slow teams out of their game and rythym, exactly what the Bearcats did against Georgetown.

Here were the results:

Team              Times in top 3    Times w worst    Total points

UC                          5                         3                    11

UConn                     5                         1                    8 1/2

DePaul                    0                          0                    0

Seton Hall                2                         0                    1 1/2

Louisville                  4                         1                     7 1/2

Nova                        3                         1                     5 1/2

USF                        0                          1                    3

Syracuse                 5                          1                   10 

Notre Dame              2                         1                    5

St. John's                7                          1                     10

Rutgers                   2                          0                     2 1/2 

WVU                       6                          2                     11

Pitt                         5                           2                     10 1/2

Providence               0                          0                      0

Georgetown              3                         1                      7

Marquette                 1                         0                      2

So, what did we learn outside of the fact DePaul and Providence might want to brush up on sliding their feet side to side?

We learned UC is the leader on the course right now for dominant potential. They've held opponents to their worst output of the season three times. Only WVU and Pitt have two. 

As for consistency, the Bearcats fall behind St. John's and WVU. (Particularly in West Virginia's case this is a reflection of the slow tempo they create limiting possessions, again, using PPP would be more precise, but I value my sanity too much)

Combining the two, though, the Bearcats and Mountaineers grind teams out of their flow better than any two in the conference, both with 11 total points.

Bottom line, shots go in and out, but defense can show up every night. It's the philosophy that's worked at UC for years and is the principle rising it back to those levels this season.

I'm not sure the statistics prove anything really tangible beyond that, but there are also studies that say having guns increase the risk of being shot, so I've seen worse.

Let's eat....

--- Real quick, before we get into basketball. The Big East football schedules were released. Here's the link. UC plays its BE opener and closer at home. In the middle, four of five on the road.

Two appearances on the ESPN family.  

--- Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News talked to BearcatLair about UC and what the Georgetown win meant for the program, also tweaking something Mick Cronin said in the process.

--- Friend of the blog George Vogel at Channel 5 stepped into the blogosphere to talk about Yancy Gates as the symbol of the Bearcats turnaround.

--- Bill Koch's follow story touches on Gates getting his "head back on straight," as the junior said. Gates is averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds the last three games.

It also gets into UC's handling of the lead against Georgetown. They showed they learned from DePaul and Providence and kept attacking the basket even with 3-6 minutes left and a double-digit lead. They never played tentative.

--- Our guy Mo Egger took to the YouTubes to address the question, "Has UC been rebuilt." Unlike the bench of his beloved New York Knicks, his argument has depth and brings a lot to the table.

--- Not only is UC still fighting for a spot in the NCAA tournament over the next three games, they are playing for positioning in the Big East tournament. If it started today, they would hold the No. 8 seed and play the winner of Marquette/DePaul on Wednesday, March 9.

However, they are only one game out of third place. Those currently in a tie for third place: Louisville, St. John's and Georgetown, all teams UC has beat this year (multiple-team tiebreakers create a mini-conference and judge by records among those teams; head to head comes first in two-way ties).

--- Cronin spoke on the Big East teleconference yesterday. Here were some highlights:

On game against Georgetown:
"Obviously it was a big win for us last night. Georgetown was number one in our conference in RPI, I believe, going into last night. So it was a big win for our team. We played excellent defense and did a great job of taking some things away from Georgetown. We've got to continue to try to improve. We're playing pretty well right now. We're excited about the way we're playing. We've won three in a row heading into UConn on Sunday. They have a big game tonight against Marquette. Sunday is going to be a big one for us. There's a lot of teams in the middle of the pack, trying to fight to get a bye in the BIG EAST tournament. We need to continue to win games if we don't want to play on Tuesday. We'd like to be in a situation where we don't have to play Tuesday."
 
Difference on Cashmere Wright the second half of the season:
"It was just confidence. He played sporadically last year coming off the ACL injury. Just knowing he's going to have the ball in his hands, he's going to play 30 minutes a game at the point guard position for us, and knowing what I expect from him as a player, and trying to figure out how to be a point guard and knowing when to score and when to pass. Every game he gains more experience and he improves. The responsibility of being the quarterback of a good team is something that has been a learning experience for him. He's really starting to be aggressive here lately."
 
On the BIG EAST Player of the Year race:
"I haven't really thought about it. I'm trying to get Rashad Bishop publicity for Defensive Player of the Year, so there was my plug. [You didn't mention Ashton Gibbs either and I think you always have to look at the team in first place and look at their best player.] I know Brad Wanamaker has had a heck of a year, but I believe Ashton Gibbs is the best player on Pittsburgh's team and that's no disrespect to any of their other guys. I think other guys definitely merit consideration. If you look at scoring I think you go with Marshon Brooks or Kemba Walker. If you slate it toward production and winning in conference play I think you have to go towards [Ben] Hansbrough and Ashton Gibbs."

--- The game vs. UConn is not sold out, but getting close according to the fine folks in ticketing/marketing. The $12 uppers are still available. It may not be the best seat in the building, but being there to yell and scream sure feels like something this team deserves right now.

--- Not sure how good or bad the result of Marquette-UConn was last night for UC. The Golden Eagles pulled off some late heroics thanks to Kemba Walker turning the ball over in the final seconds of regulation and Marquette winning in overtime. The Huskies will likely come to Fifth Third refocused, but they have really been struggling of late.  

They've lost two in a row, three of five and two consecutive road games.

The UConn Blog has moved to Defcon 5 frustration.    

--- As for Marquette, they are viewing the win over UConn the same way UC viewed the win at Georgetown. The game vs. UC on Wednesday is still setting up to be a monster game for the Eagles. Could be huge for both teams should UC slip up Sunday.

--- In case you are worried about being hosed by the selection committee here's a look inside at just how tedious and detailed the selection process is with the media mock selection session.

For some randomness...

--- This half-court heave landed this 11-year-old free Papa John's pizza for a year. I'd imagine the conversation with his parents after went something like this: Son, first of all, great shot. Second of all, let's talk about what cheese does to the body.

--- I've always said Chickens=ratings. My theory will apparently be put to the ultimate test.  

--- Sports Pickle ranks the Top 10 Worst Sports Movies. Really quality cinema here.

Though, I think I'll always have a soft spot for No Holds Barred.

"Get ready for the battle no ropes can hold!" 

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