Want to start by apologizing for no post yesterday, I know you folks get a little cranky when you don't get the morning breakfast. It was a travel day for me. The weather officially beat me down and I bolted for Florida. To be honest, this trip during the nine-day lull in UC's hoops schedule has been planned for a bit, but it couldn't have come at a better time.
Today, I come to you from 76-degree sunny skies outside Ft. Myers. Obviously, my pale/baldness reacts to this change as well as a cat to a vacuum cleaner, but I'll take it over frozen tear ducts any day. Plus my out of control sprinkler of a golf game returns from the cobwebs to likely set off a neighborhood watch around the course.
But, all of this won't keep me from bringing the goods to you and, of course, when UC returns to action Wednesday against Rutgers, I will be there for the beginning of this important stretch in the season.
It's difficult to take a picture of warmth, but I think this creeper shot from the plane on the way in about proves the point. Now that I've caused the server to crash at Expedia, let's eat ...
--- I mentioned important stretch of the season for UC, let me dive into that a little more. In case you haven't noticed, completely unpredictable anarchy is happening out there. Miami just beat Duke by 27 points last night. LaSalle over Butler. Northwestern over Minnesota. Wake over NC State. Villanova over Louisville. All this just since UC-Syracuse on Monday.
The depth in college basketball continues to grow deeper and deeper. More than ever, drawing a higher seed to avoid the quality at-larges that can tear up brackets is of utmost importance.
On top of that, again landing in the double-bye for the Big East tournament is a big deal in a league where nearly everyone it seems will end up around .500. With everyone except UConn at least six games in to BE conference play, 11 of the 15 teams are within one game of .500 or better. Every team in the league owns at least one conference win.
The final incarnation of the old BE tournament will be another battle of attrition. Avoiding one wave goes a long way toward returning to the title game.
Point being, the time is now in the schedule to make the move. Of those teams I mentioned within a game of .500 in conference play, only one of the next three opponents falls in that category and it's a Rutgers team UC already went into the RAC and beat.
Next three: Rutgers (12-6, 3-4), @Seton Hall (13-6, 2-4) and @Providence (10-9, 2-5).
The closest thing to a signature win by any of these three teams is a Hall win at middling Wake Forest (10-8) or a Seton Hall victory against bad news Mississippi State (7-10). In league where there are no easy nights, these are relatively easy nights. Running the table leaves you 7-3 and sitting pretty entering the home stretch of the conference season.
Mick Cronin talked about trying to make up for giving away games early in the conference season, the margin for error is slim against teams like this. They must take care of business and avoid what happened to Louisville at Nova on Tuesday.
--- Mick's TV show w/ TG is on tonight at 6 p.m. on FSOhio. Assistant Larry Davis is filling in for him while he's on a recruiting trip, but Mick prerecorded his list of top 5 NBA players before taking off. Hope he finds a way to slip Jason Maxiell in there. Or at least reference he had the top play of the night earlier this season. (2:20 mark).
--- While I'm on the NBA, quick Lance Stephenson update in Indiana, his arrival season continued with probably his best game of the season on Friday. He notched 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in a narrow loss to Charlotte.
--- Interesting story from the AP on the lack of offense in college basketball right now. Scoring numbers the last two years are at the lowest since the early 80s. So, yes, Bearcats fans, struggling offense isn't only a complaint inside the I-275 belt.
Of course, I vehemently disagree with the column associated with this story from the Virginian-Pilot. College hoops is still as fun to watch as ever.
--- Notre Dame, reeling all of a sudden, and Mike Brey searching for answers. Don't think there's much doubt ND played their best game of the year at UC. Huggs struggling at WVU, Mike Decourcy wonders if he can get them back on track.
--- Wanted to give an official blog shout out to Ashley Davis, whose been interning with me here at the blog this season and doing a tremendous job. She cranked out this piece on women's star Dayeesha Hollins earlier this week. Great look inside a special athlete at UC.
All we see these days are athletes making it all about them with these elaborate ceremonies of picking their colleges (get ready, Signing Day right around the corner) or popping off about how great they are are, it's refreshing to see an athlete who made their college basketball experience not as much about the selfish spotlight, but about the family she's so close to.
Really enjoyed the opportunity I had to talk with Dayeesha this year and think what she's doing with all the opponent's defensive pressure focused on her has been nothing shy of remarkable.
--- Hated to see Travis Kelce had to pull out of the Senior Bowl due to injury. He was widely regarded as the the top tight end prospects in the game. Shouldn't hurt Kelce's stock, but would have been fun to see how well he did this week.
--- Randomness ...
--- The "Dell Dude" wants to come back and thinks he can fix the company's problems. I'm thinking Dell should first start with a customer support system that doesn't make me have to clear an entire weekday afternoon.
--- Don't step to the Scalabrine. He will beat you mercilessly and report it to the press.
--- They are making a BayWatch movie? What else is left to say on this topic? Can you really just trot out voluptuous women in swimsuits running around over and over again and think people will flock to watch? Oh, wait, the numbers say they do every time? OK, then.
--- The Lakers brought the pole out of the crawl space for an airing of the grievances. It ended about as well as Festivus at the Constanzas.
--- If you are looking for a gift for me for President's Day, Pearl Jam is playing Wrigley Field on July 19. I'll take two, near second base, please. (Sidenote: Full PJ Fall Tour dates on the way. And all is right with the world)
Predictably, here's Eddie Vedder joining Bruce Springsteen singing Our Hometown at Wrigley Field last year. Have a great day everybody.
Want to hear from you, shoot me any questions, comments or your thoughts on the rest of the Bearcats season during this middle break. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter at @pauldehnerjr.