Bearcats Breakfast 1.8.13

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Every once in a while us opinionated media folks need to eat a bit of crow. Anybody believing in the Golden Domers and questioning the powers of The Saban in the days leading up to the national championship will be doing so today. They'll be easy to spot, look for the slumped shoulders and palms facing toward the sky.

That narrative won't be me today -- though, I did think Notre Dame would stay competitive into the second half.

I opened my column from last night's Notre Dame game joking about how I was called a "relentless optimist" on The Twitters by one of my followers. I was trying to paint it as a joke directed at myself, which I took as such when it was sent to me. Don't think I did a great job of portraying that I knew it was a joke and it probably came off as angry, thin-skinned or maybe just bitter. Either way, I want to officially apologize to that particular follower, who is actually one of my favorites to interact with. As anybody who reads this blog I hope knows, I can take a joke, just didn't convey that message very well.

UCND.jpgSo, there's that.

Moving on, let's eat ...

--- Occasionally, a team needs to point across the court, give the thumbs up and move forward. That's the case with UC against the Irish last night. They made almost every big play and most of them came with one second remaining in the shot clock.

After the game, Mike Brey said he believes he owns the best backcourt in America behind Jerian Wright and Eric Atkins. That's up for debate, but they looked the part.

Won't see ball movement much better than that at the college level.

"We really love moving the ball," Mike Brey said. "We like passing it and enjoy how we can get people out of position. Tonight we had some amazing possessions."

--- UC did a great job on Jack Cooley. He came in averaging 15.2 points and 11.2 boards and the UC bigs contained him to 11 points and 8 rebounds, only two offensive (he leads the nation on offensive rebounding percentage). That tied for his lowest rebound total of the year and tied for his second-lowest point output of the year.

Cheikh Mbodj with four blocks to go with his eight points.

For those who question the Bearcats bigs, thought they rose to the occasion last night defensively.

--- Justin Jackson did not play. Mick Cronin called it a "coach's decision" after the game. Jackson struggled of late and became the latest victim Cronin repeating that effort and energy will decide who plays and who doesn't. This was a message from Mick to #MeanFace, and really everyone. No spot is irreplaceable.

The previous two games Jackson totaled four points and four rebounds with six fouls in 36 minutes of play. While Mick didn't expand much on his decision, all he did when asked about it was reiterate an earlier comment that his team has two rules -- play with great effort and have a great attitude.

"You can figure it out," Cronin said. "Two rules in this program when comes to basketball."

--- Loved Mick talking about C Kelvin Gaines, who played 11 effective minutes last night.

"It's the best he's ever played: four rebounds in 11 minutes. He got a big stick back in the lane. He did a great job of trapping. He got tired. That's the only reason he came out and David went in was Kelvin was going to pass out. He was literally going to pass out. I saw him running down the floor gasping for air."

Those tied for his most minutes this season and the most in any Big East game.

"In his defense, he hasn't played those kinds of minutes," Cronin continued. "That's the challenge for him is to always get him to where he can use his athleticism and make multiple efforts in a row. He has great athleticism. It has been a three-year project with conditioning with our strength and condition coach."

--- Shaq Thomas with a career high 24 minutes. Underrated stat line of the night: 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 0 turnovers. More on him coming later this week.

--- Good to see Mike DeCourcy in the house, even though he views the Bearcats as spiraling. Of course, Mick couldn't feel more at home as critics begin to feast.

"We are used to being in this spot," Cronin said. 'I'm used to people second-guessing me as the coach of Cincinnati and I'm used to people bagging it on our team, national people thinking we are not any good. So, we are right back to where we are comfortable."

Thumbnail image for BigHeads.JPG--- Paul Daugherty writes that there is plenty of time for UC to fix their problems. As I pointed out in my column, each of the last two seasons everyone buried UC and left them for dead later in the season than this. How'd those turn out?

--- Props to the student section for a few creative big heads last night.

--- Liked UC's blacked out jerseys. Think the grey used on the name needs to be clearer, it was nearly impossible to read, but as a whole they were pretty fresh.

--- Pregame fireworks again surprised me. One of these days I'll remember the explosions are coming and not be surprised by the heat trimming my eyebrows.

--- UC Dance Team killed it at halftime with a hip-hop dance routine. Popping, locking and acrobatics. It was like 20 female Jabbawockeez. Yes, I will miss the canceled ABDC and I can admit it.

--- President Ono had his head shaved after the game as Marty Brennaman came down to emcee the event. Great stuff, greater cause. Please donate to Dragonfly and the inspirational work they do for kids with cancer.

--- Couple football notes, congrats to redshirt freshman RT Parker Ehinger, who was named Freshman All-America by the FWAA.

--- UC finished the season ranked No. 22 in the Coaches Poll.

--- Mr. Cincinnati, J.K. Schaffer signed a two-year deal with the Bengals yesterday. Great for him, have a good feeling he'll break camp with the club next year as special teamer.

--- ESPN's final power rankings place UC second behind Louisville.

--- Syracuse's Doug Marrone will be the Buffalo Bills head coach. The latest proof that going 5-2 in the Big East means you are ready for the NFL, apparently.

Some randomness ...

--- Brent Musburger did his thing last night. I think the second "whoa!" took the 70-year-old man officially into the creep category.

--- Our food tastes are ahead of the curve in Cincinnati, at least according to Wine Me, Dine Me.

--- The NY Times hits on a concerning trend I've touched upon this space a few times.

--- Remember the time you were hanging in the garage working on the car and were attacked by a bobcat? We've all been there, right?

--- Like this Drake/Rihanna song, then saw this video and want someone to explain the random bull. Was this originally a Merrill Lynch ad? Did he get loose on set and they just decided to go with it? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Have a great day everybody and, of course, shoot me any questions, comments, bull videos to or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.

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