Bearcats Breakfast 1.3.11

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Little late start this morning since I spent last night up late locked into the Fiesta Bowl where I actually witnessed a coach deciding a redshirt freshman was more trustworthy than Andrew Luck.

The redshirt freshman kicker, of course, was not -- twice. I feel for the kid because it wasn't his fault. He never should have been put in the situation to hit a 37-yard field goal for the win. Not when Luck was driving down the field with zero resistance, then David Shaw decided to stop trying to score.

Yet, I digress.

Regardless, a great day of bowl games yesterday. I was just so happy games like the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl didn't mean anything in the big picture. Phew! That would have been terrible if they were part of a playoff. (*Sarcasm font)

Let's eat...

--- Spent yesterday afternoon
at the UC media availability talking with Mick Cronin and Sean Kilpatrick about the return of three suspended players and how the heck they will mix back in.

The entire presser is here.

Mick was purposely concise in discussing the situation. He didn't want to reveal too much and, obviously, was uninterested in placing any roles or expectations on the returning players.

Let's quickly note that Octavius Ellis will not be back as he still nurses his broken hand. And Cheikh Mbodj may not be back, either.

Jeff Goodman at CBS reported that Cronin is considering redshirting both of them because of injury. Ellis, in my opinion, will happen. With Mbodj, Cronin has an interesting decision to make. How much will he be needed with the new setup of this offense? He'd seemingly be a nice fit defensively guarding the rim and helping out on defense, but playing behind Gates and Jackson, where does he fit in?

Worth keeping an eye on.

Back to yesterday's comments, Cronin clearly wasn't paving the way for Gates to be thrust into the middle. He wouldn't confirm nor deny that the senior would start and when asked if it is safe to assume the starting lineup will change he said, "it's not safe to assume anything."

From Cronin's perspective, there is no reason to rush anybody back.

"The hardest thing those guys have all fought is practicing knowing you are not going to play," he said. "It is hard. It is hard to stay focused. It is hard to have a sense of urgency; it is tough. You try to change things up for them and do different types of workouts for them but there is really no substitute. Trying to keep those guys on edge, yeah, we worked them as hard as we can, but it is not the same. I would not expect any of the three guys to be sharp. I just don't. Hopefully they can give us some depth."

This team found itself by playing as a group, by finding an unselfish streak in all of them. In the return of these three players, that won't go away. Cronin is making sure of that when talking more about the roles of the suspended players Wednesday.

"We are going to play to win," he said. "Everybody needs to do whatever job they are asked to do. That is part of being on our team. If I ask you to fill up the water at timeouts and that is what is important to us winning then that is what you need to do."

--- Cronin has been mixing up the teams
in practice with Cheikh, Shaq Thomas, Yancy playing with either Dion or Cash on their team.

"They usually beat us when it's five on five," Cronin said.

From a players perspective, nothing will feel different Wednesday night.

"They have worked us harder than normal," Kilpatrick said. "Those are the guys that even though they haven't been playing with us in games they have been working us real hard. Nothing has really changed. It's the same old team."

--- Bill Koch touched on this topic including some quotes and info from his road trip to Pittsburgh.

--- Kilpatrick earned honors
as Big East Player of the Week. He averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds in the Cats two wins against Oklahoma and Pittsburgh. He was the first UC player to win the award since Deonta Vaughn in 2008.

Lost in Kilpatrick's offense has been the evolution of his defense. Cronin pointed out his hustle and defensive discipline flipped two possessions in the final minute against Pittsburgh.

One was a dive for the ball where he skidded across the floor to help come away with it.

"He dove seven feet in true Pete Rose fashion, belly-flop, head-first," Cronin said. "You look on film and say how did he even think he could get that? The other guy got it, but he stole it from the guy on the dive. Huge possession."

The other was the charge he took on the next possession with about 30 seconds left.

"He said it hurt, though" Cronin said, laughing.

"If that's what it takes to win," Kipatrick chimed in. "If it takes a charge to get that W, then that is what I am about."

Helping SK change his mentality from scorer who has to play defense to defensive player who scores has been part of his maturation -- as it is with many young college players. The way he's accepted his job on defense has been the biggest difference in his game from freshman year to sophomore year.

"I know with the team we have had the last couple of games, I play a significant role in that," he said. "If I don't do a lot of the things on the court that I normally don't do then there is a slight chance that it will be a long day for us. That's what I try to do, get more deflections and more rebounds and at least more steals. I don't really worry about the points or anything like that."

--- Don't forget, the last days
are upon you to pick up the $100 mini-plan that includes ND, Villanova, Syracuse, and Louisville. Not sure what else you want of a Benjamin. (The kids don't call them Benjamins anymore, do they?)

--- The latest AP and Coaches polls came out yesterday with UC still on the outside looking in. Still some work to be done to win the voters over. Pitt's losses to Wagner, Long Beach State and Notre Dame devalue the win a bit.

That said, as everyone knows, plenty of opportunities to impress lie ahead. If UC finds a way to beat ND, St. John's, Georgetown and Villanova, they will crack the poll again on Jan. 16. Really, going 3-1 over that stretch as long as it includes a win against Georgetown would also put them in. I don't see any way they end up in there next week. They didn't receive a vote in the coaches and were 32 in the AP.

--- For those of you wondering about the TV for the UC-ND game on Wednesday, here are the details via Tommy G, though, the exact FSO channel locally is still unknown.

Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame TV info for 1/4 on Big East Network: FSO(more info coming), MSG+, TW-Wisco, WHAS (L'Ville), COX-NO, COX-RI, ESPN3

--- If you don't read Ballin' is a Habit
every day, you should be. Anyway, they are embarking on a 60-day college basketball tour that will roll them through Cincinnati next week. See their schedule here and shoot them some suggestions and buy them a drink since they are paying for it all themselves. Or just donate.

--- Tom Groeschen with some more
of the aftermath of UC's 31-24 Liberty Bowl victory, including Butch Jones rightly calling this the greatest time in UC football history.


--- Apparently, it's never too late to tell your husband/wife to get the heck out. I guess this 99-year-old man thinks he's ready to tear the club up.

--- I'd do a lot of things for $1,000. Getting this tattoo is not one of them.

--- Snoop Dogg hosted
The Price is Right. Nothing quite says OG like Plinko.

--- Hybrid sharks! Aw, C'mon!

--- My favorite headline of the day:
"Mayan Calendar predicts doomsday in 2012. Or not."

--- Was headed over to YouTube
to find some music and the YouTube gremlins recommended this to me. They know me so well. I can't resist. Have a good one.

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