Bearcats Breakfast 2.20.12

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Coming off another win, the Bearcats tournament resume has begun to come into clearer focus. They are far from in the kitchen, but they can sniff The Dance right now.

Four games are left in the regular season and by the numbers all appear to be coin flips. By my educated guess, winning two of the four would put the Cats in the tournament and beating Louisville would definitely place them on the doorstep. A win against the Cards would make UC 5-3 against the Top 50. I'm not sure how you keep out a team with that stat.

But, don't worry, I will delve deeper into the selection committee/RPI abyss later this week. Oh yeah, that discussion is coming. Strap on your statistical shield and hypothesis helmet because I'm going in.

For now, let's eat...

--- Much was made in the postgame about the technical foul on Yancy Gates. My initial reaction seeing the play evolve in front of me was that Gates angrily tossed Theodore to the ground. I thought he should have received a technical. I still do.

I don't think it was malicious, I think it was just frustration in the heat of the battle. Yet, it still needed to be called. Gates and the Bearcats reputation stemming from the Xavier brawl likely didn't help this judgment decision from the officiating crew.

Mick Cronin didn't agree with me. That's fine, I'd expect us to have different opinions. His salary compared to mine making him a more credible source and his point is certainly fair.

"If that's a T, you can call 15 Ts a game in the Big East," he said. "I think when big guys are getting whacked at the way he got whacked at that's a natural reaction."

It should also be pointed out that was the first technical foul for any UC player or coach since the XU brawl. There was no denying it affected Gates. Not only in his numbers (5 points, 8 rebounds) but his overall style of play. It's truly amazing how much that day still lingers in the brain of so many players who were involved in it (Gates and Tu Holloway, specifically).

"Yeah, no doubt (it affected Yancy)," Cronin said. "Negatively, because the other stuff that was going on, the talking and taunting and other stuff, but I don't even want to get into it because it's all an excuse. You got to keep your head and do what you got to do, but I didn't think it was egregious at all."

At the end of the day, Mick and I do agree it wasn't something so out of control that warranted much more conversation.

--- Bill Koch also went into the play and other elements of the win in his game story.

--- In case you missed my game column on Dion Dixon, here you go. I think Dion has played with a different level of energy and focus the last few games. It's become obvious he's counting down the moments he has left in college basketball.

--- Loved Mick's comment after the game when asked if he felt better about his situation after getting a big tourney resume win.

"My situation is I'm a single dad with no hair and a team that's just trying to get better every day," he said.

--- Talk about getting better every day, JaQuon Parker's breakthrough season continues to deliver wins for the UC. He came up huge Saturday hitting big shot after big shot for his 12 points -- not to mention seven big boards playing the forward position at 6-foot-3.

Chad Brendel wrote about Parker after the game.

The junior's point total was third on the team, but the timeliness loomed larger than anybody. He nailed two 3-pointers during the 18-4 run to open the game that rattled the Pirates. Then, as the Pirates attempted to charge back, both his second-half field goals came immediately after Hall buckets cut the lead to single digits.

Cronin spoke about Parker's contributions:

"That's where I got to do a better job in recruiting, I need more guys with his toughness," he said. "It's the hardest thing to probably evaluate when you are watching kids play. Because everybody is looking for that guy that's got great talent. I think the most underrated talent is toughness."

Mick said from the second he found out about Parker he knew he owned the toughness intangible. He offered this anecdote from his recruitment.

"Larry Davis called me from the Virginia state tournament and told me, 'This kid is an animal,'" Cronin said. "I said, 'How big is he?' He said 6-3. I said what position does he play? He said it doesn't matter. Moral of the story, his team won the state championship and he's Mr. Basketball, as a junior."

--- Seton Hall blog South Orange Juice
took a look back at the loss and gave credit to Cincinnati's defensive gameplan.

--- South Florida is now 10-4 in conference play and owning people at home. I think winning there will be more difficult than any other game on UC's schedule. Take into account the fact they are still playing to prove themselves, in need of quality wins and playing so well at home, finding a W won't be easy.

--- Notre Dame keeps finding ways to win. Still unsure how they came back on Villanova -- the team that always seems to find a way to lose.

--- For a minute, it appeared UC would -- yet again -- be facing a team coming off a loss. It had occurred in five of the previous seven games. Nothing focuses a team more than an L and with the likes of Syracuse and Rutgers, the losses were of the shocking variety and served as more than enough motivation to pull off wins.

Maybe fortunately for UC, the Cards held on to beat DePaul in overtime.

Remember, 9 p.m. Thursday. Wear black, the game is officially being tabbed as a Blackout.

--- Dana O'Neil places UC 7th in
this week's Big East power rankings.

--- So, I'm trying to distinguish the major
differences between UC and Louisville this year. Obviously, the national perception has been that the Cardinals are a great team. They've been in the Top 25 almost every week and currently sit 18th overall.

UC -- on the other hand -- can't buy an ounce of respect.

Yes, I understand the early season struggles of the Cats and the Blue Hose incident hurt credibility.

But, as far as marquee wins, the only non-conference difference between the two would be Louisville owns an OT win against Vanderbilt. That was the only team ranked at the time Louisville played them. Yes, they own a win against Memphis -- which looks nice today. They also didn't suffer any bad losses like the Cats.

Let all that go and you have two teams on dramatically similar season tracks but night and day rankings.

Yes, Louisville owns a tougher strength of schedule, though, every other ranked team they've played, they lost: UK (69-62), Georgetown (71-68), Marquette (74-63) and Syracuse (52-51). I have a hard time giving credit for losing games.

In comparison, UC owns a win against Georgetown (68-64) -- also, UConn and Pitt, who were ranked at the time, but obviously don't mean as much now.

Both are an identical 9-5 in the conference. Yet, all the respect and love goes to the Cards who have been considering among the national elite all year. I'll admit their resume looks better, but outside of giving credit for losing to good teams, the difference doesn't correlate to the gap which existed all year.

--- Off the soapbox and on to football,
Isaiah Pead, Derek Wolfe and John Hughes will head to the NFL Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis. JK Schaffer will not. Dan Hoard wrote about how this serves as just another opportunity for JK to prove people wrong.

--- Draft Insider ranked Pead as the sixth best back, that seems to be the standard slot for him. They see him as a possible second-round selection. It's looking more and more like Friday (second and third rounds) will be the day Pead goes.

--- Randomness...

--- Referee Karl Hess ejected N.C. State alums Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from the Wolfpack's game this weekend. Watching this video makes me want to see LaZelle Durden and Melvin Levett get run on Thursday night.

--- The whole ESPN Mobile Asian slur headline is unbelievable.

--- I have a feeling this is what resident Knicks fanatic Mo Egger fully anticipates.

--- Two unreal aspects of this dunk: Gabe York is in high school. He's only 6-foot-2. I'd call the game off after this dunk. Everybody go home, it won't get any better than this.

The kid underneath York should read this Plain-Dealer piece on what it's like to get dunked on.

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