Bearcats Breakfast 1.27.12

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Much of the conversation at yesterday's media availability revolved around the health of Sean Kilpatrick and, really, the health meters of the entire team right now.

Kilpatrick admitted he's playing through pain from a groin injury and hip pointer. He said his lateral movement is the biggest aspect of his game affected by the injury. That said, he's not about to be taking any time off.

"I'm playing," he said assertively. "You get injured in the offseason."

They're currently enjoying a stretch of one game against Rutgers in 13 days, a nice reprieve from three games in six days against UConn, WVU and Syracuse.

Mick Cronin actually alluded to the schedule a bit yesterday.

"Anybody in basketball that I respect said the same thing, we ran out of gas against Syracuse," Cronin said. "I was unhappy and that's an excuse in my world. My friends in the pros say the schedule can get you beat at times. At Connecticut, at West Virginia probably reared its head Monday night against Syracuse -- and Syracuse reared their head, they have great players."

The great news being with the most difficult portion of the schedule in the rearview mirror, UC should be able to get to the business of winning games they're supposed to, which they've done well this season outside of one Saturday afternoon against St. John's.

For what it's worth (and likely very little considering the wild results around this conference on a daily basis) the KenPom genius computer has UC favored to win seven of the next eight games.

In fact, four of the next five games come against teams KenPom ranks 100 or higher.

@Rutgers (101)
DePaul (164)
@St. John's (152)
@Marquette (19)
Providence (124)

For comparison, four of the last five opponents were ranked 35 or lower -- the Cats came out of that stretch 3-2.

Considering UC will play so many games against teams they are favored to beat, the coach's platform of keeping the correct mental state makes sense. Avoid laying an egg -- like WVU did at St. John's on Wednesday -- and they should be in contention to win every game.

"You get to this point in the year you have to make sure you are ready to play at gametime," Cronin said. "This time of year I just try to keep my team in the right mental state where we are happy to be playing. It's almost like the dog days of baseball in July. Too early to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now but it's definitely late enough where it's not new and fun anymore."

Bill Koch wrote more on this topic in today's Enquirer.

Let's eat...

--- Rutgers will be playing with a point to prove Saturday night at the RAC, always a dangerous combination.

They suffered a brutal 69-64 loss to DePaul on Wednesday. Mike Rice claimed his team blinked then curled up and went away as it squandered a double-digit second-half lead at home. The Blue Demons may be better, but they are still DePaul.

"We have to understand that the worst thing that happened for us was they lost," Cronin said. "now they are going to go back and refocus and sharpen up."

Of course, win or lose in the game previous, the Bearcats seeing a full effort from their opponents will be an adjustment they'll need to get used to.

For the team who rarely seems to get the respect they deserve -- or at least Cronin has openly discussed as much over the last year or so -- that respect is being shown by opponents and crowds alike.

They have run into some hostile atmospheres.

"Coach Boeheim called it one of his biggest bounceback wins, guy's been coaching 30 years," Cronin said. "We've gained the respect, for whatever reason, as a team. So teams are ready to play against us. We have to understand that. You have a sellout crowd on Saturday night at Rutgers, you have to understand that it's like Connecticut going in there. That's a big game for them."

--- It may be a little early to be looking
at Bracketology, but why not.

In the latest Joe Lunardi Bracketology out this week, UC was in as a 10 seed and not even among the last four in. Good news.

From the seat they currently sit in today, the view and perspective looks similar to those surrounding Cronin and the Bearcats.

"I don't think there is any question we've got to win games," Cronin said. "I could probably say that about everybody right now in our league other than Syracuse."

Joey Brackets had the Big East getting eight teams in. While Cronin admitted the conference won't be sending 11 teams into the Dance again this year, another question remains looking across the big picture.

"But then you look around the country and say, 'well, who is going to get in? Seriously, look around, there is so much parity," he said. "It's going to be a rough year to be on that committee is my prediction going forward."

Could the year of the mid-major be upon us?

--- I'm not sure where else in the Big East you could find a ticket deal like UC is breaking out for TODAY ONLY, but it's pretty remarkable.

They are offering the four-ticket Big East package for just $59. That includes parking. There are other deals as well.

My job isn't to push tickets on this is an absurd offer.

--- If you missed Bearcats
Sports Weekly with Mick Cronin and Tommy G last night, here's the link.

--- Scott at Bearcats Blog has been
on a perimeter defense kick all week. He touched the legal limit for screen grab: blog post ratio on Wednesday and went into the statistical abyss yesterday. Being familiar with the statistical abyss, I hope he remembered to occasionally come up for air.

One observation from his research was that eight of the last nine guards went above their season average for points. So, yes, the perimeter defense hasn't been shutting anybody down lately. However, it's also worth noting that of those nine, only four were over their average by more than five points (Wayns, Cheek, Napier, Browne). Plus, there have been a total of 15 guards with decent point averages UC faced in Big East play. Those are the only four to score more than five points over their average.

Napier only had 17 points with a minute and change remaining and Browne, well, that lofted 3-pointer still stings.

That doesn't mean the stats are wrong and UC's perimeter defense deserves accolades, not in the least, however, it should be noted that while it hasn't been spectacular, this hasn't been a consistent problem.

--- The lack of turnovers created the last two games on the other hand...

Both West Virginia and Syracuse only turned the ball over eight times against the UC defense.

Entering those games, the Bearcats were forcing an average of 16 turnovers a game in Big East play and forced every team into double-digit turnovers.

Indeed, that stat -- along with the deflection stat -- drives this team. Both have been significantly down the last two games.

"Coach Cronin, he was saying we don't play defense no more," Yancy Gates said. "We have to get our edge back on defense."

For the record, Rugers comes into the game 12th in the Big East in turnover percentage on offense. This could be a team ripe for the picking. (Get it...)

--- Gary Parrish of ranked the 2000 UC Bearcats as one of the top 16 teams of all-time.

What, we're not going there on a happy Friday.

--- Maybe for the first time ever I'll utter this sentence: I agree with Jeff Goodman. The rise of Notre Dame this year is one of the most shocking developments of this season.

--- On the football front, Joe Reedy wrote this story on Derek Wolfe at the Senior Bowl. Reeds is usually pretty accurate with his draft round predictions, but I've heard Wolfe going higher than the fifth-sixth round number he put out there.

--- A new helmet prototype showed up. Feeling another Ring of Red game with these guys.

--- Sad news this morning in hearing that former UC/Bengals quarterback Greg Cook has passed away, according to WCPO.

Cook was a special player and in fact held a number of Bengals rookie passing records until Andy Dalton snapped them this season.


--- Here's a link for all the ladies that are fans of the Breakfast. Oh, wait, I don't have any female readers? Right. Well, here's a preview of Tim Riggins' new movie anyway.

--- A rap song about Parks and Rec's Ron Swanson. Yes, please.

--- The return of Ferris Bueller, for a commercial at least.

--- I would ask what the heck is wrong with Kevin Garnett, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

--- Feeling like a weird,
creepy weekend is upon us for some reason. No real football, trip to New Jersey, just not the norm. That's why this odd, creepy video seems apropos.


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