As expected Monday, the topic turned to Cashmere Wright and his offensive struggles since returning from the knee sprain suffered against DePaul.
Wright was 1 of 11 from 3-point land in a loss to Pittsburgh and 6 of 35 since in the first games since returning. He's scored 39 points in the five games (7.5 ppg), that's less than half his season average entering the game against the Blue Demons. The five-game run is his lowest such stretch of the season.
Mick Cronin admitted after Saturday's game the senior from Savannah, Ga., is playing through some pain and it's affecting his game. His toughness is undeniable and the fact he's able to push through what's ailing him a testament to the gritty type of player he's become.
At that concept a conversation emerged as to what should be done, if anything, to help Wright return to his pre-injury form which was arguably the best basketball he's played in his UC career.
Should he rest whatever is ailing him and take a break? Should they work on the technical aspect of his shot? Should more minutes filter to Ge'Lawn Guyn? Or should he be left alone because he's earned the right during one of the best careers of the Cronin era to work out of his slump on his own.
Cronin assured any issues with Wright are not mechanical, rather a result of the extended period of time he was shut down during his injury.
"There's no question he lost his rhythm," Cronin said. "When he was injured he wasn't even shooting around. We had to totally shut him down, the only thing he did was get in the pool a little bit. There's no way you can do that in the middle of the season and have it not affect you. So, he keeps giving us as much as he can give us. Hopefully he's able to get back in some sort of comfort zone down the stretch."
History suggests sticking with Wright would be the correct move. Take a look at this time last year. On this date last year he was entering the tail end of a five-game stretch where he struggled at 3 for 14 from long range (21 percent). What happened next? He hit 10 of his next 19 sparking a UC run to five wins in six games and double-bye in the Big East tournament.
At the suggestion he should rest a few games to be sure he returns to shape for the postseason would be among the worst case scenarios in the mind of the head coach, who again assured the senior guard is healthy or he wouldn't be playing.
"What happens is when you lose your condiitioning because you are not practicing and you miss so many games maybe you lose your confidence a little bit as well as your rhythm," he said. "He just has to try to get his confidence back in practice. The problem is he hasn't been playing. When you don't play you have no rhythm in basketball."
As for the concept of more minutes for sophomore backup PG Ge'Lawn Guyn, his inconsistencies shooting the ball in games has limited his minutes. He's averaged five minutes the past three games, though contributed a critical three-point play in the second half Saturday. He's 5 of 17 from the field in conference play for 5.45 points per every 40 minutes on the floor.
"He struggles at times defensively off the ball but his on the ball intensity and his on-the-ball defense is really good," Cronin said. "He hasn't been able to knock down a high percentage of open shots. Although, he works really hard on it. In all of our practices and all of our drills he's a high percentage shooter. So, it's been frustrating to see him not be able to get it going from the perimeter as a perimeter shooter because he's a guy that makes them in practice and makes them in drills.
"It's hard to get any kind of rhythm when you are a guy that's not getting a majority of consecutive minutes."
Moral of the story, sure, Cash may be struggling but you dance with who brought you. And this senior has brought Cronin and the Bearcats a plethora of wins over the course of his career. He earned the right for as much as he's carried this team to work his way out of the current slump.
Frustrating for Wright? Yes. Then again, this guy made a career of bouncing back from tough situations and dealing with injuries. If anybody knows how to slough off frustration, it's No. 1.
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