Bearcats show off bench in opener

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The Bearcats opened their season with an expected win against Tennessee-Martin. While it wasn't perfect, the play delivered by the bench proved encouraging for the near future.

By Ashley Davis
Special to

The Bearcats know what to expect from Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright, and Jaquon Parker. In the season opener against the University of Tennessee-Martin, it was 16 points from Cash, 14 points from SK and eight from Park.

But if this collections want to be playing at Madison Square Garden on the last day of the Big East tournament again, their bench needs to be a key factor. At least on Sunday in the season opener against the Skyhawks, the bench had a balanced scoring attack, combining for 30 points in the 80-57 win.

If the balanced waves of offense from the bench players complements the scoring that the veteran starters provide, the Bearcats can be a dangerous.
It helps that head coach Mick Cronin has the luxury of bringing talented players off the bench.

"This team really has seven starters, with Titus (Rubles) and David (Nyarsuk)," Cronin said.

Nyarsuk led all bench players with nine points and six rebounds. Seven of his nine points came in just 10 first half minutes. While it's not easy, he can still make it appear so during back-to-back dunks at the end of the first half or when blocking shots as he did in the second half. His coach was pleased with his effort.

"David played like a veteran," Cronin said. "I was really impressed with David's competitive nature. David's not the greatest practice player. But when the games come on, he's pretty competitive."

Nyarsuk wasn't alone. Rubles was second in bench scoring with eight points and seven rebounds. He gives Cronin an extra scoring threat off the bench. He came into the game in the first half when Cronin pulled Jackson in response to a turnover. Rubles promptly made the first field goal of the game.

"He's a very good offensive player," Cronin said. "But at times, he gets over aggressive. His talent is real though. He's got tremendous talent. He had four assists. He led us in assists. He may be our best passer."

Cronin always looks for improvement from his players, however. This afternoon was no different. He wasn't pleased with the 19 turnovers, saying that has to change for Tuesday's game against Mississippi Valley State. He also bemoaned the three lowly deflections compiled by Rubles, Shaq Thomas, Ge'Lawn Guyn and Jermaine Sanders. 

"That confirms my belief their intensity wasn't what it needed to be," Cronin said. "And then offensively, [we were] just too sloppy at times."

Wright echoed what his head coach said about his team's intensity.

"Basically it just showed us that we got to keep working," Wright said. "The whole team from the first to the last person that comes into the game has to play hard and keep the intensity up. We can't let down. We seemed like, once we started mixing the lineups up that the intensity level went down."

Cronin recognizes that winning games is important. But he also sees the big picture in trying to improve the mistakes now.

"It's not about today; it's about where we are going," he said. "We just try to stay focused on what we've got to do to get where we are trying to go."

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