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Wright Feels Alright...And A Top 10 List From NYC

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When Cashmere Wright is finished playing college basketball next year, he hopes to move on to a pro career.  After that, he should probably get into broadcasting.

But not sports broadcasting.

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Wright jokes that he could have a future as a TV meteorologist.  The junior guard says that he knows that rain is coming when his surgically-repaired knee starts to hurt.

"Before I go to sleep, I start to feel a little aching in my legs and when I wake up and see rain I go, 'Yep.  I knew it,'" Wright told me.  "When it rains it feels horrible.  Even walking hurts.  Sometimes it's kind of hard to get out of bed.  But once I get out and get stretched, it feels a little better."

The Bearcats chances of making lengthy runs in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments will depend in large part on Wright's knees.  He's had three surgical procedures on his left knee after tearing his ACL as a freshman, and Cashmere recently hurt his right knee.

"That's the sad part," said Wright.  "In the Louisville game, I did something to it.  But after taking a few days off, they feel much better.  It must be the new tights that I have.  I love these new tights."

Cashmere has started wearing full-length compression tights under his shorts to control the swelling in his knees.  Head coach Mick Cronin is also limiting his reps at practice and had Wright come off the bench against Villanova in hopes of limiting him to 25 minutes of playing time in the final game of the regular season (he played 27)

"He is a guy that needs rest - especially late in the season," said Cronin.  "He knows what he's doing and he proved at Villanova - despite being hurt and despite me not starting him and trying to get him more rest - his stats were off the charts."

Wright finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 7 steals, and no turnovers against 'Nova and the Bearcats outscored the Wildcats by 21 points while he was in the game.  The 22-year-old from Georgia says he understands the importance of resting his knees as much as possible.

"You have to realize that you're getting older and your body is getting older and if you want to have a career in basketball, you have to realize that your body is your future," said Wright.  "You can't be out here going hard in every second of every drill.  Sometimes you have to take some time off."

The break ends on Thursday afternoon at 2:00.

"Everything is one-and-done from now on," said Wright.  "It's all about winning now.  It's time to play."

**********

Since Late Night with David Letterman is doing re-runs this week, there's no chance of getting Dave to do another Chuck Machock spoof, but I will continue my Letterman-like tradition of doing a daily Top 10 list from the Big East Tournament.

1.  Final score from Wednesday afternoon:  Georgetown 64 Pittsburgh 52.  So it's the Bearcats against the Hoyas on Thursday at 2:00.

"They are a very hard team to defend so that's a problem," said Cronin.  "We all know that the offense that they run is very complicated.  But this year, their defense has really been the staple for them because of their size.  I really think for us to have success up here, we're going to have to shoot the ball well."

2.  One of fun things about the Big East Tournament is that you never know who you are going to see in the arena.  Two years ago when UC faced West Virginia, former President Bill Clinton and actor Denzel Washington were in the stands.

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"I didn't see them until we got home and I watched the highlights," said Cashmere Wright.  "We had no clue that they were there.  I was like, 'Whoa!  We had a President at our game.'  That had to be one of the coolest things ever.  To actually have Denzel Washington and a former President watching."

Will Wright be scanning the crowd for celebs before any UC games in the Big East Tourney this week?

"I think that would throw off my game," said Wright.  "You have to go out there and focus and not worry about who is in the crowd."

I suspect Coach Cronin will be very happy to hear that.

3.  The Bearcats played zone defense for nearly all of their last two games and it was highly effective in wins over Marquette and Villanova.  But that might not be the best strategy against Georgetown since the key to beating the Hoyas in their first meeting was forcing 17 turnovers.

"We practice man-to-man every day," said Coach Cronin.  "We work on our defensive principles and I think that helps our zone because you see us matching up at times.  If we're going to lose, we're going to pick how we are going to lose.  We're not going to let certain things beat us.  Going into a game, you have to assess the other team's strengths and what gives us the best chance to win.  Right now, I feel good about our defense because we are just as good in man-to-man as we are in zone."

4.  My favorite broadcasting crew in any sport is the ESPN trio of Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas, and Bill Raftery and I always look forward to hearing their calls in the Big East Tourney.  I also really enjoyed this story that Bilas recently wrote about the late, great Skip Prosser. 

5.  The Louisville press notes include a reference to Rick Pitino being "the only coach to take three different schools to the NCAA Final Four (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville)."  I didn't realize it until reading this interview in The Sporting News, but that is a not-so-subtle dig at UK coach John Calipari who has also taken three schools to the Final Four (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky).  Louisville can technically use the line about Pitino since two of Calipari's Final Four trips were vacated due to NCAA rules violations.

6.  Today's amusing New York City room service "deal" is the Big Apple breakfast at the Intercontinental Barclay. 

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Two eggs, meat, potatoes, bagel, fruit, juice, and coffee...for a mere $42.  Needless to say, I won't be ordering.

7.  Last year, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey took his team to see the musical "Jersey Boys" before playing their first game in the Big East Tourney.  There are no Broadway shows on the itinerary for the Bearcats, but Mick Cronin is giving the players some time to enjoy themselves in New York. 

"I'm a big believer that these kids work hard and you have to let them have fun," Coach Cronin told me.  "Obviously, my job is to get them focused on playing basketball, but they put in a lot of hard work and it's a long season.  The worst thing you can do is make it all business all of the time."

8.  For the second straight year, Tom Gelehrter has joined us in the Big Apple to provide video content on GoBearcats.com.  Look for daily pre- and post-game reports as long as the 'Cats are alive in the tourney. 

9.  I am six years late on this (and it has nothing to do with the Big East Tournament), but my wife and I are watching Season 5 of The Shield on DVD and Forest Whitaker's performance as Lieutenant Kavanaugh might be the greatest acting job in TV history.  He is unbelievably creepy.  I am obsessed and felt the need to share.

10.  There are 12 colleges that use "Bearcats" for their team nickname (13 if you include the Sam Houston State Bearkats).  Ironically, Cincinnati practiced at one of the other 11 schools on Wednesday. 

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In addition to Baruch College in Manhattan, the other "Bearcats" are Brescia University, Lander University, McKendree College, NW Missouri State University, Rust College, Southwest Baptist University, St. Vincent College, Binghamton University, UC Blue Ash (formerly Raymond Walters College), and Willamette University.

I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I'm on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad. 

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