Notebook: Brawl a non-topic

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Years from now, the 2011-12 Bearcats season will be remember as the year of the Crosstown Brawl. Barring a run to a national championship -- and possibly even more if that does occur -- this year will be defined by the season's watershed moment.

There have been no moments like it in UC basketball history and few like in the history of the sport. The axis on which it shifted two seasons held created a constant talking point for every conversation of the trending of Xavier and Cincinnati.

As UC returns to the spotlight of national reporters searching for the popular angle and revisiting Dec. 10, Mick Cronin plans on doing something he rarely does with the media: Sending them home disappointed.

"I can tell you right now we're not going to talk about it," he said. "We're going to talk about our team and talk about Texas and our season."

While those minutes of madness will never be forgotten, their cumulative effect on the Bearcats team should, according to Cronin.

"It's not an issue," he said. "It's the most overrated concept in maybe the history of UC athletics. Seriously, it really is. But everybody loves sensationalism."

Don't we ever. We, being us heathen media types. And when it comes to the large room with rows upon rows of chairs full of unfamiliar press, the questions will definitely be coming about Dec. 10. It's the Cincinnati topic.

"They're going to be disappointed because they're not going to get their storyline," Cronin said. "Because it's not the storyline."

BOARD TO DEATH: While Texas comes in struggling on the defensive glass this year, ranked 249th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, they have fared well crashing the offensive boards.

In their tourney-clinching win against Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament the Longhorns grabbed 15 offensive rebounds.

"I'll tell you what concerns me a lot is there offensive rebounding, I will tell you that," Cronin said. "They're a great offensive rebounding team. They've got a couple kids, especially (Jaylen) Bond, that are really big and strong they go hard, Champman, they go to the offensive glass. Lately their offensive rebound numbers in their last five games have been tremendous."

A fight for rebounds won't be a new concept for UC who came off a tournament run where they won games by virtue of challenging for every rebound.

"That's every night in our league," Gates said. "We talked about that. That's the good thing about playing in our league, you're going to face all different types of teams because there's so many of us in one conference. The Big East pretty much gets you prepared for tournaments like this. We're going to face real big teams like South Florida or UConn or face teams like Notre Dame that run offense to you. The Big East pretty much gets you ready to be able to face anything."

WHAT BROWN DOES FOR TEXAS: Cronin offered lofty praise for Texas leading scorer J'Covan Brown (20.1 ppg).

"He reminds me of Carmelo Anthony at the guard position because he's just got great one-on-one ability," Cronin said. "I know J'Covan, he's 6-1. He posts up, they run
post up plays for him. And he shoots the lean-in fade away. Those are NBA shots."

Cronin walked into practice this week and heard the players talking about Brown. That's good news, it means they are well aware of the damage the junior can do. Enough nights like the 33-point effort he piled in against Missouri make him difficult to ignore.

"Our players respect him," Cronin said. "They've seen him on big Monday. Texas gets a lot of ESPN games so our kids know who J'Covan Brown is. And they understand if you're the leading scorer in the Big 12 you're a big-time player."

ORANGE ISSUE: The top seed in the Bearcats East Region suffered a brutal blow Tuesday when center Fab Melo was ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament.

Of course, the irony is UC lost to Syracuse when they didn't have their 7-foot shot-blocker and beat them with Melo on the court. Regardless, should it come down to an Elite Eight Big East rematch, the Orange would come in shorthanded.

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