Bearcats Breakfast 12.21.11

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If you haven't had the opportunity yet, I highly recommend checking out the latest episode of the Inside the Bearcats Podcast. Myself and Mo Egger went on and on discussing the four-guard offense, Zach Collaros and a life problem that originates with the band Bush (As many do).

Anyway, another fun, informative episode if you are a Bearcats fan, so make sure you check it out. I hope you guys are enjoying the podcasts, because I'm enjoying doing them. If there are any guests in particular you would like to hear or ways you think it could be better, please shoot me an email ( and let me know.

Let's eat...

--- The majority of the podcast Mo and I were talking about the new offense and how it would fare in the Big East. It's a popular topic these days and may end up being the defining question regarding the success of this season.

The aspect I want to take a look at today is the precedent of the four-guard offense in the Big East.

The most obvious example is Villanova. They've been running the four-guard offense for more than a few years now and obviously been a consistent upper-echelon Big East team.

Not only have they experienced success, but in 2009 they went to a Final Four with that offense. It was loaded with scorers. They went 30-8 overall and 13-5 in conference.

Most importantly, they had an offensive and rebounding presence in the middle, Dante Cunningham, who led the team in scoring (16.1) and rebounding (7.5). However, it wasn't like they shot the lights out all season. They averaged only 35 percent from 3-point range.

That said, they poured in 77 points a game that season behing Cunningham, Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes.

Therein lies the key the four-guard offense enduring the physical rigors of the Big East. You MUST score. And you must score in bunches.

"When you start talking about strategy it would be like running the spread offense in football," Mick Cronin said. "You got to score points or there is no point in it. If you are three and out and not moving the ball the defense is going to be on the field the whole time. So when you play small you have to score. We have tried this with Rashad, there is time when if you are not scoring there is no point in it because it is going to hurt your defense and it is going to hurt your rebounding. If you can get away with it, if you can score and if it doesn't hurt your defense and doesn't hurt your rebounding, you got something."

Can this team score consistently? Can their current 37 percent 3-point shooting and be able to dribble-drive and kick against elite defenders? We shall find out.

If you can't; if you stop scoring, you end up in a tailspin like Villanova endured at the end of the last two seasons.

In losing 10 of their final 15 games last year, they broke the 70-point barrier five times and won three of those. The price to pay for an off night shooting is brutal. The price to pay for a cold streak is season-ending.

You can take another case study look at Marquette the last few years. The Golden Eagles went 9-9 in the Big East last year and advanced to the Sweet 16. They went 11-7 the year prior and lost in the first round to Washington.

Yet again, what is the difference between success and failure? They were second in the Big East in points scored last year (75.2) and enjoyed one of the best seasons in their history.

Notre Dame ran the spread out routine as well and was right line with Marquette also at 75.2 points per game and finished second in the regular season.

So, can it be done? Absolutely. The precedents exist. But can UC do it? Well, that will come down to posting 70-plus points on a regular basis.

--- All of this talk doesn't guarantee the four-guard attack will be the only offense all season. Cronin said both the traditional form and spread form are practiced every day. When Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj return, they will have the ability to be versatile.

"We're not going to wait until those guys are eligible and come back," Cronin said. "We're working on it daily, incorporating them into the changes that we needed to make anyway to get the floor opened up, to be able to run more and be more aggressive of a team. When they come back, it's not like it's going to be the first time that they're involved in this."

The entire early portion of the Big East schedule once Gates and company return will most definitely be a work in progress. Cronin will be figuring out what works and what doesn't.

Fortunately, some teams thought to be elite Big East squads on the front end of the schedule have struggled mightily this season.

Here's the first five games where UC should be able to get a grip on how the offense is meshing:

@ No. 13 Pitt (without suspended players) 11-1
Notre Dame 8-5
St. John's 5-5
@ No. 16 Georgetown 9-1
Villanova 6-5

The road games will be brutal, but those are three very winnable home games against teams dealing with their own issues. Also, don't forget the factor that occurs every season in the Big East, that is teams losing on the road early at a significant rate. All of those factors bode well to a quick start in the transition period.

--- Bill Koch had this blog post on the four-guard offense.

--- This team won't win anything Cashmere Wright changes a thing he's doing. The guy has been phenomenal, as I talked about on Monday, Chad Brendel put together a story on his leadership.

It's been the defining factor in the latest resurgence. Nice outlook into his mindset and that of the rest of the team from Chad.

--- Of course, UC hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff tonight. That's right, the Golden Lions are in town. What do you need to know about them? Well, let's just say it shouldn't be pretty.

They are 1-8 on the season and have lost five consecutive games by double figures. That includes a 19-point loss in their last game at DePaul and 23-point defeat at Akron. Zippy enjoyed that visit. Lot of bouncing.

We'll move on.

--- Tim Adams with a story on strong Moeller grad and long snapper Tom DeTemple. One of my favorite interviews of the year.
--- The team hosted a pep rally event at Dave & Busters last night. While I wasn't in attendance, I can only imagine there were a few games of skee ball.

Not only was there food, highlight videos and a full team in the house -- this guy was in the house, too.

A nice, shiny new present for Christmas.

--- In case you missed it, my guy Chris Gundrum put together this story on RT Eric Lefeld, who transitioned from defensive line to starting right tackle over the past year and played a major role in earning that trophy to the right. Nice piece.

--- While I'm barely on speaking terms with Isaiah Pead right now since he decided to cut his high-fade haircut, he did break out "Isaiah Claus" this week. Worth a view from the Butch Jones Blog.

--- Also, from the blog is this view at the 1200 Club Christmas party. Not making a crazy pitch here, but it's a pretty nice group to be a part of.

--- Also, if you haven't seen the One Team, One Ticket package, take a look. If you don't have the time or ability to head to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl, you can send some members of the dance team, student, staff, etc. Also, if you could specifically place your check to ATTN: One Team, One Blogger and write the check out to Paul Dehner Jr., you can donate to this fictional program I invented.

For my donation, it's the equivalent of the Human Fund. Money for People.

--- The Bearcats basketball team made a visit to Children's Hospital yesterday. Lance McAlister was raving about their attitude and the smiles they brought. Great stuff.

Here's the photo gallery.


--- I completely thought Ashton Kutcher was bringing back Punk'd last week when I was told to show up on the wrong day for a Christmas party. Little did I know that was actually an option.

--- Since I'm sure all you were locked in, I probably don't need to tell you Marshall beat FIU inside the amazing college football venue of Tropicana Field last night.

--- If you are looking to get me a Christmas gift for me (seriously, why haven't you done this yet) I'll take this.

--- Just thinking that
it's been a while since I posted a Pearl Jam song. (What? One week?) So, here's Hunger Strike with Chris Cornell.

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