I'm talking searching for the remains of the Titanic deep. Celine Dion not included.
Here's the question -- and a significant one facing UC basketball next season: Can these freshmen take the next step to provide the 10-deep rotation Mick Cronin desires for "high-octane" basketball?
As Mick stated to Bill Koch the other day, the freshman had some games where they made major contributions and others were he had to get them out of there. That can't be the case in a deep rotation next season.
An interesting element of the season for UC's three freshmen was they all fit into about the same category. They all played minutes in spots, but ended up between 14 and 25 percent of the team's overall minutes. Those minutes will more than likely increase next year for a majority of them.
Player %Min ORat eFG% PPG
Jeremiah Davis III 14.2 91.4 48.5 2.5
Ge'Lawn Guyn 21.5 90.6 45.7 2.3
Jermaine Sanders 15.9 93.7 46.4 1.7
Toss in redshirts Shaq Thomas and Octavius Ellis, though they don't apply in this scenario.
You typically see this every year, the sophomore who played a limited role his freshman season breaking out to be a key component in the sophomore year.
So, what should be expected out of these freshman? Is there a precedent? In recent history the only UC player to fall into this category was JaQuon Parker in 2009. His sophomore struggles were well documented during his rise this year, but he tends to be more the exception than the rule when looking around the conference.
Here were the 2011 freshman from tournament team's in the Big East that played less than 25 percent of their team's minutes with their sophomore year numbers as a comparison.
The success rate is startling.
Year, Player, School %Min ORat eFG% PPG
2011 Markel Starks, GT 22.6 76.1 35.8 1.5
2012 Markel Starks, GT 56.5 105.3 55.7 7.1
2011 Da. Gardner, MU 19.9 117.9 57.6 4.6
2012 Da. Gardner, MU 36.9 118.4 56.1 9.5
2011 Tyler Olander, Conn 22.5 82.6 37.3 1.5
2012 Tyler Olander, Conn 43.6 101.5 44.8 4.2
2011 Niles Giffey, Conn 24.2 92.6 47.4 2.2
2012 Niles Giffey, Conn 26.5 113.3 52.7 2.6
2011 JJ Moore, Pitt 13.4 107.8 50.0 3.7
2012 JJ Moore, Pitt 44.1 108.1 50.2 7.4
2011 Talib Zanna, Pitt 23.4 106.7 56.3 3.7
2012 Talib Zanna, Pitt 47.9 117.7 56.1 6.2
2011 Fab Melo, Cuse 23.2 89.8 60.7 2.3
2012 Fab Melo, Cuse 51.4 110.2 56.6 7.8
2011 James Bell, Nova 17.3 114.3 52.1 2.4
2012 James Bell, Nova 51.4 106.1 50.6 7.0
--- The point of all this, not only did these players numbers go up across the board because of their increased minutes, but almost all became much more efficient players. Only James Bell of Villanova saw a fall in offensive rating and exactly half saw their rating jump more than 19 points.
--- Melo's offensive numbers experienced a respectable jump, but he became one of the premier defensive players in the country and won Big East Most Improved Player.
Talib Zanna, while an unknown to most outsiders, played a major role for Pitt as he became one of the best rebounders in the conference.
Markel Starks went from a non-contributor to a player who carried Georgetown to a win at Louisville with 20 points.
--- If all three Bearcats freshman can experience a jump in line with those we saw this past season, UC's offense will be high-octane, indeed.
If they all averaged this standard evolution of six to eight points per game, you'd have somewhere in the area of 12-18 extra points per contest from the sophomores-to-be. Add in whatever contribution can be delivered from Thomas and you have made up for the loss of Dixon and Gates -- at least offensively without taking into consideration the improvement of the team's top scorers.
Maybe these expectations are lofty -- and maybe one of these players will blow them out of the water -- but recent history suggests they absolutely should be taking a major step in production and efficiency in 2012-13.
--- Moving on to football, click over across the GoBearcats.com to Dan Hoard's latest column, talking about the development of Munchie Legaux and the QB position. DH points out this is Butch Jones' first year as a head coach where the QB hasn't been set in spring practice.
While Legaux earned the role of front-runner, I found Butch calling Munchie No. 1 and Brendon Kay 1-A to be an interesting statement. Kay could be an intriguing thought. He comes with all the physical ability, but has NEVER been healthy enough to seize the starting job. This seemingly will be his best shot. I'd be shocked if we were told the starter before the midpoint of training camp.
--- Tommy G has this conversation with George Winn, who is in the competitive mix with Ralph David Abernathy IV and Jameel Poteat for the starting running back job.
This will be a fun one to watch evolve as well and with so much talent back there, it would be hard to imagine all three not seeing significant carries in 2012.
--- Speaking with Butch this week, I broached one topic that has been swirling around in the news. The Plus-One playoff model appears closer to reality than ever before. Had such a model been around in 2009, UC would have played in a national semifinal and been one win away from the national championship.
(Sidenote: Think of all the dominoes that wouldn't have fallen had that occurred? BK likely would have stayed, no Butch Jones, what happens in 2010.....This series of events ends with your head exploding.)
Butch was non-committal on the specifics of what he'd prefer to see for the national championship, but very clear on the way he wants the rest of the postseason run.
"I like the current bowl setup," he said. "I think it's great for college football. We're the one sport where the regular season matters. Every game is a championship game. So, as long as we can keep the bowl format the way it is and the importance on the regular season I'm all for it, what they decide."
From one reporter's perspective, let's hope they decide on a four-team playoff -- and I'll take those semifinal games as home games for the top seeds as well.
--- I'm way late on this, but since it involves Mr. Cincinnati Bearcat JK Schaffer, I must include it. Here was video from his Pro Day he conducted earlier in the week at Nippert Stadium since he tweaked a hamstring during UC's official day in the bubble.
--- Also, JK's been on fire on Twitter lately, as he broke out a thank you to AD Whit Babcock yesterday.
"RT @Schaff37: Big thank you to @WhitBabcock for deciding to keep the future #Bearcats games at the #NIP. There's no better place to play college football"
Many UC fans and players agree with his assessment.
--- On that topic, Whit and Butch both spoke about temporarily ditching games at PBS here.
--- I think I found the one event I would have less a chance of winning than a Hair-Off.
--- Here's a piece documenting the life of a poker player. Having met some professional poker players, I have no idea who they don't all have ulcers.
--- Latest sign that I'm getting old: Two things I most look forward to on Sunday's? Golf and 60 Minutes. The latter had this great piece on Novak Djokovic this weekend.
--- Maybe the only reason I wish I lived in Los Angeles right now is to attend this live reading of The Big Lebowski with Seth Rogen as The Dude.
--- Sports Pickle with a great headline on the Parcells-to-Saints story.
--- OU Bobcats fans everywhere (including here) can only say thank you and good luck to John Groce. And whoever takes his place will have no excuse considering the talent returning.
--- Today is MC Hammer's 49th birthday. Wow, when MC Hammer turns 50, I might need to enter therapy. Until then, your crew is through and we're Too Legit Too Quit -- sang!