Bearcats Breakfast 1.23.12

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Big Heads. Big Monday. Big Deal.

I suppose I've woken up more excited. There was the day I moved to Key West. There was the day I can only assume a bout of temporary insanity with Amy Hartman allowed the hottest girl around to say yes to attending a big party with me. There was the day Barbershop 2: Back in Business was released in theaters.

All of those bring that excitement, that feeling where waking up doesn't feel like a chore. You pop out of bed like a kid on Christmas. Or a dad on meth. Depending on how your childhood played out, pick your analogy.

Regardless, should be a fun one tonight. Yes, Syracuse losing at Notre Dame stole a bit of the luster from the night's festivities, but as Bill Koch wrote today, not much of it.

UC still needs to win this game if they want to play for a Big East regular season title. They could officially put their biggest competition temporarily on the ropes with a win tonight. If they don't, this race pretty much becomes a sprint for second place. Not that there's anything wrong with that considering the last five years of the program.

Plus, it's a chance for you Big Head folks to bring the personality and energy to Fifth Third Arena on a national stage. Remember, let's keep it classy, no Bernie Fine stuff -- it will be confiscated, anyway. Look forward to seeing them all. The ones that have been Twitpic'd to me look strong. And if you have extras, bring them, pass them out.

See you all tonight, let's eat...

--- I guess we still need to rehash
some West Virginia nuggets. Because we need to flip the script so fast, I won't go too in depth.

Bottom line: If UC plays like that every night, they will win more than they lose. They run into Gary Browne throwing up a 3-pointer in the face of Yancy Gates he probably hits 15 percent of the time. For the record, he shoots 28 percent from 3-point range, only lofted 28 of them all season and missed both attempts on Saturday prior to hitting the game-tying shot. 

Did they need to do a better job on Kevin Jones (26 points, 13 rebounds)? Yes. But UC wasn't and won't be the first team the front-runner for BEPOY carves up this year.

Dion Dixon makes that layup 90 percent of the time. Refeerees call a foul on Truck Bryant 50 percent of the time. Clock operators actually let the clock run when play hasn't stopped 99.9 percent of the time (sidenote: Only in Morgantown).

At the end of the day, you throw your hands up and say, that's the Big East. They let one get away and that's disappointing. But some nights you play well and lose. It happens. As long as you play well, you should move forward feeling confident. UC does that today. That's half the battle.

--- Anybody paying attention to the play of Yancy Gates? They should be. Mick Cronin said prior to the lifting of the suspensions that it would take a few days for Gates to get his game legs back under him. He didn't play Gates more than 21 minutes in either of his first two games back. Since then, however, his stats of the potential-reaching type stuff.

Last four games (UC 3-1): 11.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 18 of 37 from field (48 percent), 11 of 15 FT (73 percent), 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers.

Cronin wants him to play smart basketball, play defense, rebound, get putbacks, hustle and, did I mention rebound?

He's been doing that to perfection. Gates accepted his revised role with authority and found ways to be a major contributor in doing so. Plus, these numbers have come against some of the premier interior teams in the country.

--- Also, best five minutes of
the season from Cheikh Mbodj at the end of the first half. Huge for restoring Mick's confidence in him. Keyed UC taking the lead at halftime.

--- Scott at BearcatsBlog does
a great job breaking down the game including a few screengrabs that will raise your blood pressure.

--- Much of the talk yesterday and this morning surrounds the health of Sean Kilpatrick. He's been nursing a groin injury but playing through it. He was clearly in pain at the conclusion of the West Virginia game.

Cronin acknowledged it after:

"My concern right now is SK," he said to 700WLW. "He is hurt. Not sure how bad. But we'll find out. We got to get him back healthy."

I have not heard much regarding his status, remember to follow me on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) and I'll keep you up to date as details emerge today.

For now, all we have is this Tweet from him last night:

"Nothing's gonna stop me from fighting with my teammates tomorrow ... #BearcatNation"

Nothing might not be the right word. Nothing except the trainers would be precise.

--- As a reminder, tonight's game is a White Out, so wear your white to the game.

--- Syracuse will be without 7-foot center Fab Melo tonight. He didn't play in the loss at Notre Dame, either. Not having Melo will be a nice reprieve for UC because the height problems they face anyway, but it won't mean much in the grand scheme. When a team has 10 players averaging double-digit minutes and nobody playing more than 29 minutes a game, losing one player leaves little impact.

--- Myron Medcalf at ESPN thinks losing Melo leaves a bigger impact than people (aka myself) think.

Jack Cooley did post 17 points and 10 rebounds (6 offensive) against Cuse without Melo. If Yancy can post those types of numbers along with a nice night shooting from deep, it may be enough to put the Cats over the top.

--- Donna Ditota of talks about the Orange attempting to bounce back off the loss to ND and brings up trouble shooting and defending the 3-point shot of late.

--- Mike Waters of with the keys to the game.

--- HOFer Mike DeCourcy places
UC atop the list of must-see games this week.

--- Arena Pulse places
UC-Cuse on the list of top games this week.

--- Two key stats to watch tonight:

3-point percentage: The ultimate equalizer. If the Cats can catch fire from deep -- particularly early to get the crowd into it -- they will be in business. That's the blueprint ND set. They hit 7 of 14 from 3-point range and held a 12-point lead at halftime.

Of course, not falling into the habit of firing 3-pointers just for the sake of doing so will be key as well. Keeping the 3-point attempts at 20 or lower seems to be about the right fit for efficiency most nights.

Consider the Cuse rank 14th out of 16 in conference play sending opponents to the FT line and walking that line of drive/shoot holds even more importance tonight.

Fast break points: Syracuse lives to get up and down for easy buckets in transition. Notre Dame did a nice job grinding out a half-court game. That's not necessarily the Bearcats MO, but continuing to take care of the ball (perfect conference streak with single-digit turnovers continued Saturday) and not allowing the Orange to run out on breaks will loom large in determining tempo.

--- Don't assume somebody else is bringing the Greg Robinson Big Head tonight, students, take the initiative and do it yourself. Multiple faces of football futility and shame won't hurt.

I suggest this shot. Or maybe this one.

Some randomness...

--- Blog and podcast favorites, Ballin is a Habit are still on their college hoops tour. They stopped in Joplin, Mo., to help work on the recovery from the deadly tornadoes. Best piece of their tour by far.

--- Best dunks of the college basketball season thus far. Montage!

--- 30 Rock experienced an up-and-down
run the last year or so, but last week's episode was fantastic. I'd like to see the concept of the Idiot Protest catch on in real life.

"You can't ignore us Liz Lemon, we will be out here every day misremembering movie quotes!"

Plus, Steve Buschemi is returning.

--- By the end of last night's game, Eli Manning looked like the famous photo of Y.A. Tittle.

--- I think Ed Hochuli and Steven Tyler's scarf broke Twitter.

--- Love this story about the girl who outsmarted her kidnapper to get free.

--- Can't wait to hear an Onions! call up close and personal tonight with Raf in the house. Plus, by my accounts the best pure writer/reporter in college hoops, Dana O'Neil, will be in the house.

--- And why not, it just feels like the right day to break this video out.

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Aye Aye captain, watch section 130