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Bearcats Breakfast 1.20.12

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The knee-jerk reaction of national media cracks me up. It happens in every sport, one win suddenly sways everyone's opinion into the positive and one loss makes the whole team a bunch of bums. Sometimes even one play elicits those opinions.

Being a national media member attempting to know every team isn't easy. Particularly when held the standard set here where I intake UC basketball on a daily basis. That said, the rise of this UC team hasn't occurred overnight. They've been playing at the level they did Wednesday at UConn for more than a few games now. Yet, somehow, it took 40 minutes at Gampel to make everyone believe.

The Bearcats went from not receiving a vote in the coaches poll and a distant 32nd in the AP poll to everyone's flavor of the week Thursday.

Their 70-67 win no doubt fresh in the mind of those putting out power rankings on Thursday, UC moved from non-existent to top 10.

Take a look at the old Worldwide leader, for example
. The power rankings of their 12 analysts had UC as high as ninth and rated No. 19 overall. Three of the 12 had UC in their top 15. Two of those hadn't ranked them all year.

The previous week they received 11 total votes and sat 32nd.

Luke Winn at SI was on the Bearcats bandwagon in preseason, ranking them at a top 10 team. He fell off as UC struggled out of the gate. But, after not touching the Cats any of the previous weeks, they suddenly showed up at No. 9 yesterday.

With one game, the perception changed. The conversation shifted. They went from unmentionable to one of the top 10 teams in the country. Overnight.

Apparently, winning at Georgetown doesn't move the needle but winning at UConn buries it in the red. Oh well, it's why nobody should become caught up in polls and national recognition.

As Butch Jones likes to say, "praise and blame, it's all the same."

Plenty of praise going around today, though. That can change quickly in this conference. Just ask Seton Hall.

Let's eat...

--- Speaking of praise, UC's marketing folks asked me to specifically thank the fans for supporting UC and creating a sell out at Fifth Third Arena for the Big Monday game against No. 1 Syracuse.

The magic number is back: 13,176.

"Great for our community, great for our city, great for the University of Cincinnati," Cronin said. "Big Monday. That's great advertising. What's that worth for two hours on a Monday night?"

If you have tickets you're one of the lucky ones, if not, don't give up hope you can pop over to ticketcity.com and see what you can scrounge up.

Whiteotu.jpgAlso, the game is a white out, so wear white. The student section will be supplied with these, much like the Ring of Red game.

On top of that, for all the students, don't forget your Big Heads. We've been over the list of people that would be great to bring if you need ideas. We've also been over the list of those that would be missing the point.

And if I don't see a Greg Robinson big head, I will be severely disappointed.

Also, if you need to know how to create one of these, you can either go to Kinkos, but that will cost you around $40 or you can download a Rasterbator. Yes, that's the real name. Insert your own joke here and let's move forward amicably.

Rasterbation is the act of tiling out onto smaller sheets a larger image.

Here is the free download of the software. Print, cut, paste, heckle. That simple.

--- More from the praise category
came from Scott Van Pelt yesterday, who dedicated his One Big Thing to talking about UC and the job Mick Cronin has done this year. As many others have said, including myself in this space, the last five weeks have been his best as a head coach.

Great conversation from SVP and Ryen Russillo, though. Their two of the best and they give a great insight into the national pulse around this team nationally.

--- UC held a media availability yesterday with Mick, SK and Yancy. A few good quotes and news nuggets came out of it.

Here was one from Mick I particularly liked.

On deciding not to call a timeout:

"Let's be honest, if we win I'm great, if we lose I'm an idiot," he said. "Most people say that. But for what we get paid, who cares."

--- Scott Springer always liked
Sean Kilpatrick. He's not alone in this fan base. He spoke with SK yesterday about his big shot and posted it on The YouTubes.

--- You know why you have to love
SK beyond his 17 points per game or 3-point dagger against the Huskies? The guy's attitude shows maturity beyond his years.

Most players after a game like that would be talking about how confident they are now and how much the shot is pushing them forward. Not SK. He's staying level-headed.

"Something that my coaches always told me you got to stay even keel," he said. "You can't look at it like you had a good game or hit a big shot or anything. You just got to stay even. I don't think it did anything confidence-wise."


--- Brendan Prunty of the Newark Times-Ledger
points out a specific detail that tells all you need to know about SK. After his shot went in, he immediately broke down into his defensive stance. He also places UC at No. 2 in his Big East power rankings.

--- Adam Zagoria of SNY.com talks
about the White Plains-native as well.

--- Kilpatrick missed the front end
of two 1-and-1s, Gates joked it was because of his superstition at halfcourt before it. The answer sort of faded into a longer monologue about the end of the game. I couldn't but ask what the superstition was after Yancy and SK were done at the podium yesterday. He said it was that SK looked up at the scoreboard and pointed out all four of them had 13 points.

"He said, that's got to be bad luck," Gates said.

Almost on cue, Cronin walked to the podium to speak. "You see what kids think about with the game on the line? You guys are at home screaming at your TV. They're saying, everybody's got 13."

He rubbed his forehead at the latest realization.

"The business that I have chosen."


--- Cronin shouldn't be one to rail on superstitions. He went on to talk about the real reason the team has won these games were his lucky cuff links. The horseshoe links were given to him by his daughter, Samantha, for Christmas.

Only once did he not wear them, when he realized the shirt he brought against St. John's had buttons, not french cuffs.

He didn't make that mistake again.

"You can imagine that shirt is not coming back out," he said. "And I got reprimanded for not wearing them. So it was a double, we got the loss and I got yelled at by a 5-year-old."

--- Look! It's assistant coach Darren Savino sitting next to Bill Murray.

--- Apparently, Gates is talking to himself now. UC fans don't care if he's slapping himself as long as he replicates the 13 and 12 he produced Wednesday.

--- Cronin, not surprisingly, lauded West Virginia. WVU endured five losses this year and most people considered them to be down with a host of freshman and transfers surrounding Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones. Cronin wasn't buying it. Four of the five losses came to teams that were either raneked at the time or have been since (Baylor, Mississippi State, Seton Hall, UConn). All of those were away from home.

Granted they did lose at home to Kent State in their second game of the season, 70-67.

"With all those freshmen," Cronin pointed out, "to open up at home against Kent State, a veteran team, you got to have an 11-year contract to do that -- which he does."

Cronin thought West Virginia looked fatigued on the back end of a rough stretch over Christmas when they were beaten handily by Seton Hall and thinks they just the same could be tied with UC at 5-1 in the Big East. Rather predictably, Cronin didn't miss a chance to take a veiled shot at the pollsters in the process.

"They are arguably as good as anybody in the Big East in my mind. Cincinnati-West Virginia Saturday is maybe the best regular season game between two non-ranked teams that I've ever seen. Neither one of these teams are ranked. Think about that. I want you to look at the rankings and see who you think is better. Both of us against some of those teams ranked 12th, 14th, 15th in the country. See who you would take on a neutral floor. That's where the Top 25 can be really, really irrelevant. They are a Top 20 team. Period. End of story. Not even up for debate. They are going to finish in the top four in this league and it's going to be a tall order to win on Saturday."

Here are the rankings, you can answer Cronin's question for yourself or throw up looking at the fact Louisville continues to be ranked despite their train wreck of a conference season.

--- UC players think people should start to notice them, but aren'r concerned with it, this from Bill Koch.

--- West Virginia's Kevin Jones is probably the front-runner for Big East Player of the Year. The guy is averaging 20.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

At 6-8, 260 pounds he's a matchup nightmare because he can pop out and work the perimeter while also dominating on the glass. Not to mention he's ranked 30th in the country in turnover rate.

Every play runs through him, he produces points, boards and rarely turns it over. Among those used on at least 20 percent of possessions, Jones leads the Big East and is ninth in the country in offensive rating (126.1). For reference, Sean Kilpatrick owns a 116.3 offensive rating, good for fourth in the Big East.

Cronin pointed out he can't match up with Yancy on him because Jones would take him too far away from the basket. Likely the Justin Jackson/JaQuon Parker combo will take the duty. The height mismatch will be nothing new for Park, who spent much of the night on 6-9, 260 pound Alex Oriakhi on Wednesday.

"(Jones) is as good as there is in this league," Cronin said. "He can make the 3, he can post up and he's the best rebounder in, probably, the country."


--- More than Jones, the Bearcats should be concerned about PG Truck Bryant. He's the difference maker for West Virginia.

Take a look at his splits in wins/losses over the last eight games.

WINS
Opp          Pts   FGA/M  FTA/M

Nova         34     12-23     6-7
@Rutgers 29      7-13    11-13
GTown      25      7-16     9-11
Rutgers    18       5-12     5-8
Marshall    22      7-20     6-7
AVG        25.6     8-17     7-9

LOSSES
Opp          Pts   FGA/M  FTA/M
Baylor         16    5-15      5-7
Seton Hall   11    3-16      3-4
UConn         8     2-13      3-4
AVG          11.6   3-15      4-5

--- Correlating Bryant's offensive struggles to losses is no coincidence. Usually, that stems from him being unable to get to the free throw line. Keeping him off the stripe will be essential to keeping him off the scoreboard. West Virginia has trouble finding enough offense from other places when Bryant struggles from the field.

--- For UC, that will mean stopping the trend of points guards posting career numbers.

Maalik Wayns (39) and Shabazz Napier (27) both managed career highs against Cashmere Wright and the Bearcats.

Cronin points out Napier's numbers are a bit misleading because he had only 17 points with 1:30 to go. That said...

"Rest assured, Cash is going to be watching edits of his defense, especially late game," Cronin said. "Too much space, hands down, things of that nature. I think Ge'Lawn being out, Cash is playing too many minutes. That is a problem. Especially when you are playing against Napier and Wayns, every play is a pick and roll and you are getting hit by a 6-10 guy on a ball screen every play. That will wear you down."

--- As for the latest on Guyn, Cronin said he showed progress on Tuesday but not enough to practice or play. He's hoping to get in a full practice with him soon. He won't play him until that happens, though. Playing Saturday at WVU was not ruled out.

--- Stopping Bryant could be even bigger if big man Deniz Klicili can't play for WVU.

--- Notes from the notes: With a win, UC would be the first Big East team to win eight consecutive conference road games since Syracuse started the 2009-10 season winning doing just that.

--- West Virginia has beaten UC in three consecutive meetings.

--- Some Friday Randomness...

--- Isn't this woman a little old to be busting in on a reporter with a giant inner tube strapped on her shoulder?

--- GQ talks to Turd Furguson.

--- Fred Stoller published this Kindle Single about his year as a staff writer on Seinfeld with all kinds of inside info. Definitely worth picking up. I know some of you don't do the kindle thing, not that there's anything wrong with that.

--- Fausto Carmona placing a new spin on Player to be Named Later.

--- It's Friday, big weekend on the way, down-home trip to the country culture of West Virginia, life in the Big East is crazy, the long-awaited future is now for Bearcats basketball. What else fits all of those things better than Outkast's Rosa Parks?

Ah ha, hush that fuss.

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