The Bearcats lit up Maryland-Eastern Shore 92-60 on Saturday and in the process Cashmere Wright took a necessary step toward regaining the attitude Mick Cronin has been attempting to extract from him.
CINCINNATI -- Mick Cronin can offer expert analysis on a number of topics. Building a basketball program, proper use of foot stomp to snap attention during a game and, of course, reading Dr. Seuss to a 6-year-old.
But one topic probably tops them all right now --- Cashmere Wright.
"I've been around him five years," Cronin said. "When it comes to him, I'm an expert. Trust me."
In 2007 Wright became one of Cronin's first major finds out of Savannah, Ga., and prodding his development every step of the way since. So, when he witnesses an increase in turnover rate for his senior point guard and consequently in his entire team through the first nine game of the season he doesn't need to think long about the reasoning.
"I know what it is with him," Cronin said. "He's a wonderful kid. He's just too nice at times. He's got to stay mentally focused at all times."
Focus wouldn't properly quantify the exact issue. For Wright, the kid with the high-pitched laugh and contagious positive personality, focus means stepping outside himself once he steps inside the lines.
"I try to tell him, the great players aren't the nicest people on the floor," Cronin said. "You need to be arrogant out there and in command at all times. Great example for our guys I try to talk to them about how Oscar Robertson was as a player. You didn't take the ball from him. If you did you might have had no teeth left if you attempted to. Just toughness and the focus because he's got great talent."
Cronin and assistant coach Larry Davis met with Wright this week and broke down film of his play. They attempted to figure out why his assist-turnover totals flipped this season.
Cashmere Wright Assist-turnover ratio
Senior: 1.09 (entering Saturday)
Wright was given the task as master of uptempo ceremonies this year as the new UC Blitz blurs up and down Fifth Third Arena. The process came with growing pains Cronin's unaccustomed to seeing. Running this type of a show requires arrogance, Cronin insists.
The senior rarely lacks it on the court it seems, at least when he's staring down the basket from 25 feet. On Saturday his standard routine of burying 3-pointers from the Fifth Third logos returned. He eventually would hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range and finish with 20 points.
Piling in the 15.3 points per game doesn't coincide to confidence or arrogance.
"He's always been a confident shooter," Cronin said. "There's a difference."
Most importantly Saturday, he pushed the break when it necessitated, threw alley-oops like batting practice and finished with nine assists to one turnover.
"Progress," Cronin said. "I was really happy with him."
Progress will continue. The hopes being that the attention to arrogance will return the efficiency in ball-handling displayed last season and on Saturday against UMES.
"As the point guard, I'm trying to walk a thin line between shooting the ball and not shooting so much and still get everyone else involved," Wright said. "It's still an ongoing progression for me trying to work my way to get to the best of that."
If the commanding presence returns and shooting continues as it has this season at 46 percent from deep, Wright will have all the reason to be arrogant. For Cronin, of course, that could be a chicken/egg argument.
"It's about belief," he said. "I am the man. I'm not turning the ball over, I'm a great player. Are you kidding me? There's nothing you can do to me to make me turn it over. That's got to be your mentality as a great guard."
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