Kilpatrick working toward consistency

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Kilpatrick.jpgSean Kilpatrick continued to show signs of his bright future during Wednesday's win against DePaul, his next obstacle is finding consistency to provide those more often.


CINCINNATI - Sean Kilpatrick finished at the rim with contact. He powered to the hoop with advanced, precise moves. He buried a 3-pointer. He attacked the lane, drew defenders and dished.


Against DePaul, Kilpatrick played the role of offensive leader.


That role went unfilled during many of the Bearcats' two-act plays this Big East season. Of course, this wasn't opening night for the redshirt freshman (that actually provided 21 points against Mount St. Mary's).


Just 24 games into his UC career, Kilpatrick displayed his offensive star potential. He showed he can be the most electric on the team. His 18 points willed a win against South Florida. His 14-point outburst made the difference against Seton Hall. Without 19 at DePaul, well, Jimmy Drew's last-second heave wouldn't have mattered for an entirely different reason.


Kilpatrick can provide the offensive spark this team ranked 14th in the conference in points per game (63.7) and tied for 11th in points per possession (1.01) needs.


Only, one problem exists. For all the smooth moves and offensive gems like the one produced Wednesday night at DePaul, a similar number of nights exist where his production lagged.


Kilpatrick owns six games of 16 or more points this season. He also owns eight games of six or less. As a player still developing defensive abilities, it places his coach between a rock and a hard place.


"It seems he's either had 17 or 20 or 0 or 2," Cronin said. "He's a streaky guy right now in his career. He's a freshman. When he struggles early in games he seems to lose his confidence a little bit. Or maybe presses too much. That's just a matter of maturity for him."


Each night, as the game evolves, Kilpatrick can't always tell what type of night it will be. If there was a consistent theme, he'd be replicating it by now.


"I don't always know, but I get some kind of heat towards it when I see sometimes we are struggling to score," Kilpatrick said. "Not only that, but if (Dion Dixon's) the only one out there scoring and he needs some type of help. That's when I figure I can help out a little bit."


Kilpatrick's not alone in the search for consistency. The same could be said for Dixon, Yancy Gates, Cashmere Wright or any number of UC's contributors.  


"He's a freshman," Cronin said. "I don't believe in putting too much on him. I would love for him to get on a run of double figure games. I would be all for it. I would be all for Dion Dixon to get on a run of double-figure consistency, too." 


Yet, numbers prove Kilpatrick's future shines bright.


In conference play, he ranks ninth in the Big East in points per minute value. The next closest Bearcats player is Yancy Gates at a tie for 40th. Kilpatrick's offensive rating of 111.8 tops the team.


A surface solution would be to give Kilpatrick more minutes, however, he already leads the team in percentage of possessions used on offense (24.1). When Kilpatrick shows it will be a night like DePaul, he plays (27 minutes). When his offense struggles, he sits.


The formula works for now, but Kilpatrick searches for a way to locate the offensive spark more often and make himself harder to pull out of the game.


"At first, I actually try to get my points off of steals," Kilpatrick said. "If you look at it, if you can get a couple steals and get going there that should be the key to scoring. It's always defense first."


His plan follows Cronin's blueprint. You can't force offense, especially on Sunday against a team like St. John's. When that happens, so do a rash of turnovers - 17 of them, to be exact, in the first meeting.


Trusting the offense has been the catchphrase of late around UC. Run the plays and the open looks will come to whoever the defense leaves open - whether that be Kilpatrick or anybody else.


"You try to coach guys to have a level of toughness to just play hard, play defense and on offense play against the defense," Cronin said. "If you are open, you shoot; if you are not you drive and create. You can't control whether the ball goes in the basket or not. All we can control is continue to execute, stay together and keep fighting."

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