Yancy Gates made one three-point basket as a freshman and did not hit a single trey last year.
Of the two he made during the regular season this year, one was a desperation bank shot just before the halftime buzzer in the home finale against
So what does he do in the NCAA Tournament? Knock down both of his three-point attempts with Reggie Miller-like swishes in the Bearcats 78-63 win over
Welcome to March Madness.
Alright, we'll admit it - that was lucky. But the Bearcats victory was anything but a matter of good fortune.
Given three days to prepare for the so-called "Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball," the Bearcats had little trouble with
"We did a good job of simulating their scrambling and gambling defense at practice by playing 5-on-6 or 5-on-7," Coach Cronin told me. "The guys got used to securing the basketball and not over-dribbling. Fortunately, we had some time to prepare. The way to slow a team like that down is to score on them. If they have to take the ball out of the basket, they have to deal with your 5-on-5 defense."
"Their low point total was accomplished as much on the offensive end as the defensive end," said assistant coach Larry Davis. "They thrive on stealing the ball and laying it in. They have a hard time scoring a high number if you don't turn the ball over and for most of the game we did a great job against the press."
While Gates was the obvious star with 18 points (7-8 FG) and 11 rebounds,
"Cash came in focused," Yancy Gates said. "His knee has been bothering him and he's been getting treatment to try to keep the pain to a minimum. The way he came out and showed toughness when we needed him to handle the ball - our point guard really stepped up for us. He only made three turnovers and that was big."
"I was concerned on Monday because he had a rough day at practice," Coach Cronin said. "His knee has been giving him trouble over the last month of the season. We don't talk about it a lot, but it's probably something that he'll have to get fixed after the season. He's had it drained a few times this year, but fortunately over the last few days, he's been better."
The win over
"You don't realize how much you miss it," Coach Cronin told me. "I was spoiled as an assistant and in my first few years as a head coach. You don't realize how hard it is to get here. I never had to go through a rebuilding project quite like I have at
Up next, a rematch against the UConn Huskies who beat the Bearcats 67-59 a little less than three weeks ago at Fifth Third Arena.
"I had the scouting report for that game and I look back on it and I'm going to take some of the blame because we emphasized stopping Kemba Walker so hard that maybe we didn't emphasize enough that you can't let their young guys have wide-open shots," said assistant coach Larry Davis. "We'll approach the game a little bit differently this time around and make sure that our guys know that we have to get to their perimeter guys a little bit tougher. We can't give them rhythm shots. Their freshman are playing like veteran guys now. They've played in the Big East and they know what they're doing. We have to have a more solid effort against their younger guys and still duplicate what we did against Kemba."
Saturday night at 9:40 can't get here soon enough.
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