Bearcats Breakfast 5.2.12

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After hearing about Nick Van Exel being elected into the Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame, I can't help but reminisce about the season that changed my view of college basketball.

Despite the sketch which makes me look like I'm awaiting my application for AARP, I'm actually 31 years old. The 1991-92 Bearcats caught me at the intersection of impressionable and bored, the perfect combination to be swept up in the sport. For whatever reason, I'd never been a dedicated college hoops fan before Nicky Van and everyone else took the tournament by storm.

Nothing was like watching the kid from Kenosha, Wis., though. In junior high, he was the player I emulated in practice. I tossed more halfcourt heaves yelling his name than should be legally allowed. Of course, none swished through as his did. On a related note, if I ever would have hit a buzzer-beater, I would have run directly to the locker room, too.

Great to see he'll be honored by the local HOF. Cool moment from Cincinnati folks my age.

Let's eat...

--- Sporting News came out with a list ranking the football coaches in the Big East. Some guy named Butch ended up at No. 1. Somehow, SN left Doug Marrone of Syracuse off the list. But Butch would have the upper hand on him by virtue of the shared BE title last year.

Hard to argue with Butch Jones at the top considering the year UC enjoyed last season plus success on and off the field. I remember after the season and latest round of coaching changes, mentioning to Butch only one current coach has more seasons in the Big East. His reaction was the same type of disbelief I had when I first looked at the numbers. What a wild realization.

--- This season will be a bigger challenge than even last year. Recovering from the 4-8 year was far from easy, but the motivation of the 2010 disappointment drove a team packed with experienced senior stars.

As Jones has spoken about and Andrea Adelson touches on here, this will be an incredibly young team.

Only nine players on the roster averaged 35 snaps a game last season (AA lists the nine in her blog) and they'll be replacing their leading passer, rusher, sacker and tackler.

The thought of losing the four most important stats in college football would seem to be a doom-and-gloom number. But is it really?

Upon further review, not quite. Here is a list of BCS teams that won a division, conference or national championship last year and find how many of them returned their top passer, rusher, tackler and sacker.

Team       Total   Pass/Rush/Tack/Sack  
Clemson    0/4    N/N/N/N
Va. Tech    1/4    N/N/Y/N
Okla. St.    2/4    Y/N/N/Y
Mich. St.    3/4    Y/Y/N/Y
Wisconsin  1/4    N/Y/N/N
Georgia      1/4   Y/N/N/N
LSU           2/4   Y/N/N/Y
Alabama    2/4    N/N/Y/Y
Oregon      2/4    Y/Y/N/N
USC          4/4    Y/Y/Y/Y
UC            4/4    Y/Y/Y/Y
WVU         3/4    Y/N/Y/Y
Louisville   1/4     N/N/Y/N

--- Of the 13 BCS programs that can claim some type of championship last year, nine of them returned 50 percent or less of their passer, rusher, tackler and sacker combination.

-- Only USC and UC returned all four players.

--- A number I found most surprising in this list, in the age of the QB and spread offense, 5 of 13 teams didn't return their leading passer from the previous year -- that includes the national champion Crimson Tide.

--- Perhaps this would be as much an indictment on the ACC (in case the Clemson Orange Bowl debacle didn't count), but both Clemson and VT claimed division titles with new faces at the key positions. Clemson saw the emergence of Tajh Boyd propel them without any of their top players returning. But they are living proof of a team's ability to win without the benefit of returning stat stuffers.

--- Overcoming the loss of
Collaros, Pead, Wolfe and Schaffer will be difficult, but it's far from doomsday. All of college football proved as much last season.

--- Bearcat Nation looks at the possible draftees for next year's Bearcats. Too bad Pat O'Donnell wasn't a coming out this year, pretty sure the Jaguars would have been blowing up his phone.

My current choice for top Bearcat selected next year? Walter Stewart.

--- UC players talk on about what watching the draft did for their approach to next season.

--- John Hughes talks to BearcatLair about his draft day surprise. Got to be thrilled for him.

--- calls UC the best at developing recruits into drafted players.

--- Here are the details
on Van Exel's enshrinement. He'll be joined by fellow Bearcats Cheryl Cook and Jerry Couzins.

--- A guy who hopes to break some of Van Exel's single-season record, Sean Kilpatrick, was ranked as the No. 6 shooting guard in the country entering next season by The Sporting News and HOFer Mike DeCourcy.

Mike, predictably, makes a great point about the move from small forward to Dion Dixon's shooting guard spot. SK should be matched up with smaller defenders more often and be able to take advantage of his 6-foot-4 frame. SK slashing to the lane against smaller defenders is unfair. I'll have to poke around for a better 1-2 guard combo than SK and Cashmere Wright next season. The list won't be long.

--- Andy Katz discusses some of the challenges coaches are facing dealing with 18-game conference basketball schedules. It makes playing non-con home-and-homes extremely difficult. He specifically mentions UC having trouble finding top opponents to make a deal.

A situation to keep an eye on: UK and Indiana appear to be at an impasse with the future of their rivalry. From the I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin' department: If that relationship falls apart, UC-IU would be a logical local replacement.

I'll say this, as much as I would love to sit down and put together the basketball schedule for UC, I'm glad it isn't my job. Talk about pulling your hair out.

--- Randomness...

--- Eli Manning is hosting SNL Friday. The promos aren't bad, particularly the final two.

--- Stone Gossard says Pearl Jam plans on finishing their new album this year. Hell yes.

--- This may be the coolest iPhone case I've ever seen. Perfect for calling the authorities if your friend OD's on caffeine pills prior to a career filled with box office bombs and softcore porn. (I'm so excited!)

--- Add this to the list of reasons why I don't go hunting. I probably too much resemble a turkey, anyway.

--- In honor of a new Pearl Jam album, here's a great one from the Back Spacer. Have a good one.

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