Due to the attack of a virus on my computer and subsequent five-hour session with the McAfee anti-virus folks overseas, today's Breakfast comes to you with some brevity, tardiness and concerning amount of angst.
To subdue some of the expletives that would have littered this post, I will be playing this video throughout the time I write it. I recommend you join in in listening to my cell ringtone and one of the fantastic feel-good songs of all-time.
--- Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn, whose always been a Bearcats Breakfast favorite, broke out the surprise of the early-season rankings.
The guy cuts through the traditions and cliches college basketball better than anybody in the business. He drills directly to the base numbers and facts regardless of jerseys or expectations.
As anybody following UC closely has seen -- and Mick Cronin has been pounding the desk about since last season -- the Cats tend to be underrated by lazy pundits due to the history of the past five years.
Count Winn as the first national writer to publicize the potential in the 2011-12 Bearcats.
Here's his analysis of UC -- the fourth of four Big East teams ranked in positions 5-8:
Hoops nation was highly skeptical of the Bearcats last season when they started 14-0 without beating a single NCAA tournament team. When they fell to 18-5 in February, they were written off as a non-factor in the Big East, and a late surge to 26-9 only earned them the No. 25 spot in the final AP poll. But Cincy's résumé, in retrospect, offered a lot of promise for a strong 2011-12: Mick Cronin's team finished 18th in the nation in defensive efficiency, had road wins at St. John's, Georgetown and Marquette, and routed A-10 champ Xavier by 20 at home. The Bearcats handily beat Missouri in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and return the core of that team, including power forward Yancy Gates and promising freshman guard Sean Kilpatrick. They're my dark horse pick to win the Big East title.
Winn's history is pretty solid. If you go back to his first power rankings of last season, it included some of the traps nearly everyone fell into with Kansas State and Michigan State ranked in the top three. On the flip side, Winn has Butler, BYU and Florida in his top 16.
These rankings mean little. UC has just as much chance to end up like his preseason No. 8 from last year in Villanova and fall off into oblivion next March, as they do to end up like No. 13 Kentucky and rise to the Final Four.
The overriding aspect that means quite a bit in my eyes is polls like this one place UC back in the conversation -- not just as a quality team, but elite one.
Being a part of the process and in the mix nationally represents the next step in the evolution of the program. Most figured that would be the case after advancing to the second around last year, but there's a big difference between winning a game in the tournament and being a preseason Top 10 team when it comes to notoriety and exposure. (BTW, those two traits mean little in pros, but when one or two committments from teenagers can change the course of the next 5-10 years, they go a long way).
--- In other way-too-early-poll news, Jeff Goodman of Foxsports put out his Top 25. I like Jeff, but his Xavier slant is more predictable than me eating Skyline before the Crosstown Shootout. Having incorrect returning players on the Bearcats doesn't help, either.
--- News regarding the football program. The date of the season opener against Austin Peay was moved from Thursday, Sept. 1 to Saturday Sept. 3.
The times and TV of the game are yet to be announced, but it will be a Saturday game instead of the Thursday night opener. If I were UC, I wouldn't want to take the chance of going up against the possible season premiere of Community, either. (P.S. for those without joking font, there's absolutely zero chance that had anything to do with this decision)
--- I mentioned Brian Bennett's spring wraps here yesterday. UC's wasn't posted when I posted the Breakfast, so if you didn't see it, here's the direct link to Brian's look at the Cats.
--- Brian also looks at the season's biggest newcomers. Kenbrell Thompkins makes the list. I believe Thompkins can deliver one of the great receiver seasons in recent history, but let's remember, Vidal Hazelton was on this same list last year. Things happen.
--- Irving Fryar was the man back in the day. He played 16 years in the league, concluding in 2000. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and went off for a career-high 1,316 yards as a 35-year-old with Philly in 1997. Remarkable.
He recently spoke with the UC football team and Butch Jones Blog caught up with him.
--- Speaking of Butch Jones, he offered up some supreme hospitality to Bill Koch recently and Bill posted a blog about it.
--- The long offseason allows these types of debates which serve little purpose. Of course, so does Saved by the Bell trivia, but I still get amped up to tell you the name of the Hawaiian hotel the gang stayed at for summer vacation.
Rush the Court ranked the top 20 college hoops jobs in the country. I'd disagree with the position of UCLA and Arizona (both should be 5-10 spots lower), but UC isn't on there, though plenty of Big East schools are represented. The school needs three to five more years of sustained success and it would return to the most desirable jobs. Whoever consistently finishes in the top five of this conference year in and year out will own one of the top 10 jobs in the country. Period. That goes for anyone from DePaul to Syracuse.
--- Some randomness...
--- If giant boxers and midget actresses can't stay together, what chance do the rest of us have?!?
--- LeBron buried some demons last night. Say what you will, but outside all the off-the-court garbage, he's always been one of the best basketball players we've ever seen. Has Dan Gilbert issued his reaction letter to the Heat series win over the Celts yet?
--- No wonder first dates cause so much stress.
--- Us at the Reds scoreboard crew have been trying to push the Rally Squirrel for a few years now. The bullpen at the Portland SeaDogs have taken the concept to a new level.
--- Talking about Monty Python earlier calmed me down and also left me wanting more. So here's one of the many great scenes from the Search for the Holy Grail.
"It's not a question of where he grips it, it's a simple question of weight ratios."