Sit back, reflect and laugh

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Wednesday night will go down as the latest in a rapidly growing string of great moments for the newest version of the University of Cincinnati basketball program.


It's hard to find one more special. On the road, in a hostile environment, the team nobody thought could do so reached the magic number of 10 Big East wins, 23 overall and (unofficially) punched a ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005.


This would be easy to wax poetic about the play of Yancy Gates. The sleeping Bearcat woke up five games ago, contributed a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds with two monster blocks against Marquette. Heck, he even clinched the game by knocking down two free throws.


I could shift the conversation to the evolution of Cashmere Wright, who must be mentioned among the best point guards in the Big East with the way he's played during the last month. He poured in 15 points to go with five rebounds and a steal Wednesday.


We'd be remiss not to talk about Mick Cronin, who challenged Wright and Dion Dixon after a subpar performance against UConn and saw both respond. He also cut Ibrahima Thomas' minutes Sunday, only to return his confidence by plopping him back into the starting lineup Wednesday. He rewarded with countless big buckets on his way to 12 points and seven rebounds.


Every player and coach on the Bearcats charter plane back from Milwaukee deserves praise and recognition for their contribution.


At a moment like this, I like to look back at the low points.




That's right, the lowest of the low. The point that made you curse at the television or sacrifice the nearest piece non-breakable merchandise. The point that made you want to write your congressman in anger. The point that made you consider giving up on your team or actually following through with the threat.


So, what was the most difficult aspect of this rebuilding project for you to stomach?


Was it the first season in the moment after the loss to in Game 4 Wofford when you realized how far this program had to go?


Was is Year 2 during the 45-point mercy killing at the hands of Connecticut when the full power of the Big East machine was concerningly evident.


Was it when Cashmere Wright tore his ACL? Or when Mike Williams went down?


Was it the three straight losses to Xavier?


Was it playing in the CBI on the road at Bradley with those NCAA tournament games a distant memory?


Was it last year watching a team making its miracle run see its Big East and NCAA tournament hopes banked into extinction by DeSean Butler?


Ugh. Still hard to write about that one without picturing the devastation on Dixon's face.  


Every fan handled the process differently. You may have taken it out on the head coach or the athletic director or the players or your pets. 


No matter how you handled it or when your low moment occurred you can look back on it today and smile. And laugh.


Because it's over.


The goal five years ago was to rebuild the gutted program back to an NCAA tournament level and compete with the best in the Big East.


Done and done.

The process required patience, resiliency, intelligence, commitment and about any other positive character trait imaginable.


In a week and a half, the road will come full circle as the name "Cincinnati" is listed next to a seed on the CBS Selection Show.


There were many moments over the last five years where all UC fans wondered how long it would be until the Bearcats joined that elite company and were allowed to personally experience the greatest tournament in all of sports again.


No matter what your low moment was, as you relish in Wednesday's victory and start planning the possible road trips for the NCAA tournament, you should pause for a moment.


It's been a long, arduous road back to the observational outlook near the top of the NCAA basketball mountain. The long journey back to relevancy is officially over.


Sit back, reflect and appreciate it.  

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Couldn't agree more. I was thinkin this morning.. this is the biggest win for UC basketball since...
the Duke game? Either way, biggest win in the post-Huggins era. Climbing the mountain was tough.. it was straight uphill, with a 45 mph wind right in our faces, we kept gettin knocked back down a few feet (injuries, Butler's bank, ineligible players, missed FTs, etc etc). But Mick has taken the program back where we all wanted it. Praise Mick. Thanks Mick.

I would like to apologize to Mick. Only out of pure frustration, especially the previous two seasons with February MeltDowns, did I want a change. I don't know what else to say, but I was wrong and feel badly. You have made UC relevant again. For that, I thank you.

Cashmere Wright, you are easily becoming a GREAT player. Love watching that happen.

Let's keep it up and win many more games this season.