In order to fill the new fullback position in the offense, Tommy Tuberville pulled from an unusual position group to make it happen.
CINCINNATI -- Patrick Coyne proudly discusses his tradition as a fullback and running back. Sure, the standout from Hamilton Badin ranked as the No. 17 dual threat QB nationally by Rivals.com upon arriving at UC, but as the coaches asked him to move to the newly created fullback position in the offense, he could draw on his past.
He could also draw on his astute mastery of sarcasm.
"I played running back and fullback until seventh grade," Coyne said, tongue in cheek. "That's the last time. I played guard in third grade. I think that's the closest thing to it. All the way back in third grade, I think it carries over. Everyone is about two feet taller and 200 pounds heavier."
The concept of moving a quarterback to the fullback/tight end position may seem like a joke, but in the world of fitting old pieces into new parts thinking outside the pocket doesn't arrive on a whim, it arrives with necessity.
Tommy Tuberville and the pro-style offense reintroduces the fullback position to the offense for the first time since Mark Dantonio roamed the sideline. When analyzing the current players capable of handling a move, Tuberville spotted candidates with the skill set to make a successful conversion - regardless of position.
That meant Coyne, the redshirt sophomore stuck in a quagmire of quarterbacks on the depth chart, but the biggest of the bunch, could increase him frame and trade the no-contact red jersey for that all-contact black.. Despite being a bit shocked at first, he happily responded to a chance at playing time by adding 20 pounds - he's now up to 244 - and lugging a different attitude into the Sheakly Athletics Center.
"It's the complete opposite end of the spectrum than playing quarterback," Coyne said. "It definitely goes from mentally strenuous to completely physically strenuous. It's definitely more physical, I'll tell you that. I don't miss (the red jersey) at all. It's good getting in there and mixing it up, getting to experience what all the other guys do every day which you didn't get to, the soreness every day."
While Coyne endured true soreness for the first time following the spring's first scrimmage on Saturday, he was joined at the position by a player all too accustomed to new experiences in spring football. Jordan Luallen has joined Coyne in the backfield in what appears to be his journey to play all 22 positions at career. He's previously played quarterback, wide receiver, running back and linebacker.
Now, he can check off fullback and tight end.
"Camp is pretty much been a mystery to me at this point," Luallen said. "This is my sixth one and this is my fifth position. It's pretty much a new adventure every time."
Don't expect the latest position change to erase Luallen's patented smile.
"I'm great with it," said Luallen, whose also joined by former linebacker E.J. Junior at the position. "Anything to help the team. I think I've kind of showed that over my career. Anything they've asked me to do I've done. This is just another step in that. If I can help the team win by doing this then I am happy to do it."
Happy? Yes. Learning? Oh yes.
Tuberville didn't expect the transition to be smooth. The first scrimmage showed a position group trailing as far behind in the technique department as any on the team, but far ahead of the curve mentally. Really, for a couple of heady former quarterbacks, the results make sense.
"It's just different," Tuberville said. "What the fullback has to do is either cleans up on pass protection someone we didn't block or has an assignment on a blitz he has to protect. They knew what to do it was just being able to be physical at the point of attack when your mind is spinning 100 miles per hour or so."
The spinning likely won't stop for a while. Nor will living in the training, dining and weight rooms. In order for these players to be sizeable enough to take on B1G linebackers on Aug. 31, the growth of the last few months must continue, particularly for Luallen, whose tipping the scales at 232 after gaining 14 pounds this offseason.
"Obviously I need to get bigger," said Luallen, who does boast his bench press numbers to be on par with most of his competition around 400 pounds. "I'm the smallest guy in the room right now. If I can keep getting bigger, get my shoulders stronger I'll be ready to block those guys."
Once they begin to drop the hammer from the fullback position, perhaps the first fullback pass play in UC history will be right around the corner? Incredibly, there would be a battle to see who gets the nod to throw it.
"I don't think we could have a double fullback pass," Coyne said, "but we are in thick competition for it right now."
I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or your application to play fullback to email@example.com or hit me up
UC fell to Purdue on Tuesday, 7-4, but as they move forward they search to combine the periodic offensive surges with the periodic excellent pitching to find a complete game to start a winning streak.
By Ashley Davis/Special to GoBearcats.com
CINCINNATI -- In what felt like a blink of an eye, head coach Brian Cleary's Bearcats were down 4-0 to Purdue Tuesday at Marge Schott Stadium, a game in which UC eventually lost 7-4.
Redshirt junior Christian McElroy had a shaky start, giving up four runs in the first inning. He got the first two outs relatively quickly, but then had some problems with control. At one point, he hit a batter, walked a batter, hit another batter and walked another batter, in that order.
"We obviously needed a better start," Cleary said.
McElroy ended up pitching three innings and giving up six runs on six hits, walking five and striking out three.
After going 4-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 2012 and finishing sixth in the Big East in fewest hits allowed (59), McElroy was drafted in the 32nd round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, but chose to stay at UC another year.
However, McElroy hasn't started the 2013 season the way he would want, coming into the Purdue game with a 1-2 record and a 5.40 ERA. His ERA jumped to 7.71 after yesterday's game.
If there was one positive thing to take away from the game (besides the mini-rally UC put together in the bottom of the ninth), it was the
bullpen work turned in by senior Thomas Gentile and freshman Mark Downs.
Gentile relieved McElroy and pitched five innings, giving up six hits and two runs, one earned, with five strikeouts and two walks. His mindset coming out of the bullpen in a situation like that is to not allow the opposing team's lead to get any larger.
"First thing you want to do is eliminate a big inning and control what you can, coming in and trying to minimize damage," Gentile said. "Try to give up the least amount of runs as possible.Obviously zero's the best, but sometimes that doesn't always happen."
Cleary was satisfied with the way Gentile pitched, but was still concerned about the two runs he gave up early in his appearance.
"I thought he got better as he went," Cleary said. "After getting out of that first being down four, every run after that is like two. You really just can't afford to give up any more runs until you get yourself back in the game."
Cleary, however, was pleased to be able to get freshman Mark Downs into the game in the ninth. Downs pitched one inning and retired all three Purdue batters he faced during his third appearance of the season.
The Bearcats don't have a lot of time to think about their fourth consecutive loss as they head to Lexington Wednesday for a date with No. 9 Kentucky.
Gentile has the right attitude, though. His team has hit well during some games and pitched well during other games. They just have to put together a complete, all-around game.
"Some days we pitch well, but we don't hit well or play well defensively," he said. "Some days we don't pitch well, but we hit very well. So we just got to put all of it together. [But] that's the beauty of baseball; there's always another day or another game right around the corner."
ESPN1530 Host Mo Egger joins me again this time as we take a look at the Big East Tournament, the Bearcats chances to make a run, what it means for their NCAA Tournament status and how the tournament helped legitimize the reincarnation of UC basketball.
Of course, we also spend the first 15 minutes discussing which of the 16 conference tournaments we would most like to attend and least like to attend this week which requires openly debating the pros and cons of Missoula, Mont. Plus, Mo takes a phone call, discusses the unhealthy disdain for Gerry McNamara.
As always, make sure you are reading Mo's blog here and listening to him from 3-6 p.m. this week on ESPN1530. You can also catch him on the weekends on national ESPN radio.
The first-round game against Providence will be a rematch of one of UC's two bad losses from the season. The 54-50 defeat at the dunk sent the two teams in different directions. It helped spark PC winning 7 of their last nine, the only two losses coming in OT at UConn on Saturday and against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
The difference? Center Kadeem Batts has gone Beastmode. Including the win against UC, over his last eight games he's averaging 19 points and 8.4 rebounds including, most recently, back-to-back double-doubles. Add that with First Team All-Big East selection Bryce Cotton at guard and there's PC's magic combo.
In the first game, UC did a nice job on the offensive glass, grabbing almost 50 percent of their misses, but not much else went right. Providence won despite Batts making only 5 of 12 free throws and sharpshooter Cotton going 2 of 9 from deep. Much of Cotton's struggles can be attributed to UC's defense but they realistically can't expect him to struggle like that again.
The biggest problem the Bearcats had in the game was finding a way to penetrate and avoid turnovers against the Providence defense. Really, against everyone that will be the deal going forward.
--- UC's formula for winning basketball games is simple: Create points off turnovers, offensive rebound like maniacs and play stifling defense. With those three things, that's enough to win games in this tournament and the next one. Talk all you want to about missed shots, shooting percentage and offensive struggles --- that's this team's formula. Every team owns their own winning formula. Some are more conducive to consistency than others. Louisville plays great defense and lets Peyton Siva create opportunities. Duke must fill it up from deep. Indiana relies on their talent to rise to the top.
By this point in the season you are who you are and have to find ways to accomplish the winning formula for your team. Points off turnovers, offensive rebounding and defense are this team's strengths, for better or worse. They must dominate in them.
--- The last few years, UC has done as well in NYC as any Big East team. They are among three teams to have won at least one game each of the last three years, USF and Notre Dame are the others. Notre Dame has advanced to the semifinals whereas all USF's wins came in the early rounds.
That also leaves them as the only team to have won at least one game in NYC each of the last three years and play in the championship game. No easy feat.
Looking even deeper at where their success ranks, only UConn and Louisville have more wins in the BET over the last three years. Here's the records of this year's Big East tournament teams the last three years:
Notre Dame: 4-3
St. John's: 2-3
Seton Hall: 2-3
Hard to believe Pittsburgh hasn't won a game in New York the last three years. Louisville with its two championship game appearances and one title deserve recognition along with UConn, but beyond those two, UC stands as the most effective team in the league's grandest stage.
What does that mean for this year? Maybe not much. But I asked Mick Cronin why his team has had so much success in New York and he pulled out an intriguing way to connect the question with this year's quest.
"Mental toughness," he said. "Guys that believe that they can win. Which with this team I got to do a better job of trying to get these guys to believe in our formula. There's times with us we worry about mistakes, we get afraid to lose at times. In fairness to them, when you start out the way we started out and end up losing so many close games you are just so worried about losing. Where, I think we can put all that behind us now. Which is going to be my message. We've done what we needed to do from a regular season standpoint we can put that behind us now. We don't have to worry about, oh, we blew it. There's a lot of that going on, not that I talked about it. It's just inevitable with the kids. You can't play not to lose. Scared money never wins. You got to play to win. That's how we got to go up there and play."
He makes a great point, I think back to the 2010 tournament team with Lance Stephenson. That team was able to leave all the disappointments of the regular season behind them, play loose, free and believe in their formula. If not for De'Sean Butler's bank shot, who knows how far that team could have gone.
Last year's team was not only playing well, but certainly believe they could beat anybody, especially after the 2OT thriller against Georgetown.
Maybe, the win against USF and likely secure spot in The Dance will help them loosen up on offense and not be as afraid to make mistakes. We shall see, but that's proven to be true with this group before.
--- Each of the last three years, a seed seven or higher has advanced to the championship game. Last year, Louisville won it as the seven seed, in 2011 UConn and Kemba Walker made the run from nine seed to title and in 2010 Georgetown lost a thriller to WVU as the No. 8 seed.
Sean Kilpatrick earns All-Big East honors for the second consecutive season, being named to the second team, just as he was last year.
While Kilpatrick would have liked to move up to the first team, he joins a small group of players who have proven good enough to make the first or second team in consecutive seasons. In fact, over the last five years only six other players have made back-to-back All-Big East teams.
Player, School (Years on A-BE team)
Luke Harangoudy, Notre Dame (2008, '09, '10)
Sam Young, Pittsburgh (2008, '09)
DeSean Butler, WVU (2009, '10)
Austin Freeman, Georgetown (2010, '11)
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette (2011, '12)
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (2012, '13)
Sean Kilpatrick, UC (2012, '13)
Should Kilpatrick return to the Bearcats, he could join Harangoudy as the only player to make three consecutive lists. Now, he also would like to follow in the footsteps of the other six because they all ended up on the first team All-Big East at one point whereas, Kilpatrick scored secondary honors both years.
--- One final note, Mick held Justin Jackson out of Saturday's game against USF. Jackson is close to being able to play. He wanted to against the Bulls, but it worried Mick that had he played him Jackson wouldn't have been able to go this week or next. When asked if he expects him to play this week, he said, "hopefully," after the game.
As always with injuries, you don't know, but signs point to Jackson taking part in the BET.
I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or your thoughts on the Bearcats Big East tournament chances to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
The UC baseball team suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of Eastern Michigan this weekend, but it didn't come without plenty of opportunities to pile on runs. Entering a difficult week against Purdue and Kentucky, finding key hits stands atop the priority list.
By Ashley Davis/Special to GoBearcats.com
CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bearcats' (4-8) offense stalled this weekend as Eastern Michigan (6-9) pitched a shutout Sunday at Marge Schott Stadium, 3-0, thus completing a three-game sweep.
In the first two games of the series, UC let Eastern Michigan bat around the lineup in one inning, including a ninth-inning six-run rally on Saturday and a nine-run inning on Friday.
On Sunday, the offense was non-existent. The Bearcats had only six hits and no player had more than one hit.
But one factor was the same in all three games: leaving runners on base.
"[It's] really been the case all weekend," Cleary says. "We just have not been able to cash in some opportunities, giving away some at-bats in some key situations."
Friday UC left 10 men on base. Saturday, it was eight. Sunday, it was six.
The bottom of the fourth inning Sunday was a perfect example of the Bearcats' inability to get runners home with less than two outs.
After freshman Ian Happ grounded out to start the inning, freshmen Jeff Murray and Woody Wallace both singled. Murray then advanced to third on a wild pitch, but junior Brendon Neel and redshirt freshman Taylor Schmidt struck out back-to-back.
These types of innings were frequent for the Bearcats all weekend. Two players reached base via singles before a fielder's choice and a strikeout snuffed out a threat on Friday. Saturday they left men on base six of the nine innings, including the ninth inning when they were down 7-3.
If there was one good thing to take away from the weekend, however, it was the Bearcats' young pitchers. Redshirt freshman Connor Walsh made his fourth start of the season Friday and pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out five batters.
Mitch Patishall started Sunday and gave up two runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Cleary was pleased with the freshman's first career start.
"He did a really good job," Cleary says. "He's got some things he can improve on, but certainly he was competitive."
Cleary was also impressed with sophomore Art Warren, who relieved Patishall in the fourth.
"I thought he did a good job, other than his run, the solo home run, and falling behind in the count," he said. "But I thought he made some great pitches."
As the Cats look toward their week with games against two good teams in Purdue and Kentucky, they hope their offense can come to life.
"I feel good about a lot of what's going on," Cleary says. "We're making it very difficult on ourselves with some little things. We've got some of these guys playing more and getting more comfortable in the field."
We want to hear from you! If you have any questions, comments or observations about UC baseball shoot them to email@example.com.
Cheikh Mbodj played one of the best games of his UC career including a key block toward the end of regulation in a critical overtime win against USF. All this with his parents in town from Senegal watching him play basketball live for the first time in six years.
CINCINNATI - Cheikh Mbodj last saw his parents two years ago.
The last time his mother and father watched him play a basketball game in person came six years ago when he still lived in his native Senegal.
They attempt to keep up with Mbodj, UC's 25-year-old starting center, either through Internet streams or the occasional online highlight. Living across the world makes following Big East basketball a challenging task.
That all changed Saturday.
For his final home game, Mbodj's parents, Asta Khaly Welle and Ousmane Mbodj, traveled 4,370 miles on a nine-hour flight from Dakar, Senegal to see their son honored for his career at UC. After six long years, they would finally see their boy play again in person.
Little could either have imagined they'd witness him play the game of his life. And little could anyone have thought Cheikh Mbodj would be responsible for saving the possibility of a demoralizing home defeat to USF placing UC on the Big Dance bubble.
Yet, in UC's 61-53 comeback victory, he scored eight points with nine rebounds and three critical blocks - all but one bucket of which came in the second half and overtime. Those were the most points and rebounds he's collected since January.
"He doesn't give us nine and eight, we don't win this game," Mick Cronin said. "I can tell you one thing about Cheikh, he can block shots and he's a great kid."
In the world of basketball and life, people don't come much nicer than Mbodj. Polite, respectful, conscientious and as quality a representative of the University of Cincinnati as Cronin could hope for. He'd love to have seen Mbodj become a more effective scorer in this final season and wonders if he pushes him too hard attempting to make it happen.
That said, players like this, people like this, deserve their moment. For Mbodj to soak up his with his parents watching him play live for the first time in six years redefines special Senior Day experiences.
"Man, it was a great feeling," Mbodj said. "I haven't seen them in so long. At first it was a surprise (they were coming), but when people told me I was really happy."
Dressed head-to-toe in native garb, they flanked Mbodj walking to the center of Fifth Third Arena as a crowd of 11,572 stood with an ovation for the 6-foot-10 center. Had the day ended there, all three would look back fondly on a special day worth remembering for the rest of their lives. Only, Mbodj provided a day they'll never forget. It, incredibly, came in what appeared could be the darkest moment of the season.
Trailing by eight points with 3:30 left, Mbodj along with fellow seniors JaQuon Parker and Cashmere Wright, helped trim the deficit to one possession. From there, Mbodj grabbed an offensive rebound from a missed Parker jump shot and proceeded to bury both free throws to pull within one.
On the ensuing possession, USF point guard Anthony Collins drove the lane off a switch attempting to break down Mbodj. The center was able to extend and block the shot with all while palming it to smother the ball into his hand for a turnover.
The block was as beastly as it was game-saving.
"I just realized he was going to try to attack me since there was a size difference," Mbodj said. "I just tried to play smarter and try to use my left hand with his right hand. I just felt the ball so I just grabbed it."
Sean Kilpatrick had seen that show before.
"He gets blocks like that in practice," said Kilpatrick, who scored 13 points. "He's so much longer than everybody his size difference on a defender is crazy because he can cover a lot of ground. Not only that he has the mobility to move with everyone in this league."
The show continued in overtime with Mbodj hitting four straight free throws, including two he earned pulling down a board off a missed Parker free throw.
In a season where numerous close losses were results of singular plays not made, Mbodj delivered them Saturday.
"There's a fine line between winning and losing and it's not easy to win games particularly in this league when every game is a death match," Cronin said. "Those kinds of plays separate who wins and who losses games."
In this case, it may have separated who plays in the NCAA tournament and who doesn't. With a loss, the Bearcats would have fallen squarely onto the bubble in the eyes of most experts. Instead, they probably should be in, Cronin admitted postgame. "Probably being the key word because you never know," he said.
Maybe the stories of how Mbodj played will be lost in translation when his parents return to Senegal on Tuesday and begin bragging on their son. Friends might not understand the importance of the game or even the game itself.
None of that will matter to Cheikh.
An ear-to-ear grin shyly flashed across his face just talking about his week leading up to the game spent hanging out with his parents, proudly showing them his life in the United States. Had the week ended at that, surely, Mbodj would look fondly back at the time as a memorable experience.
Yet, Mbodj transformed this one into a day his family will never forget. One could think the presence of Mbodj's parents inspired his defining game as a Bearcat. Anybody who knows Mbodj and how much he cares about his teammates and his effort, though, knows that's nearly impossible. Giving maximum effort has never been an issue.
"I just try to get on the floor and help my teammates win ballgames," he said. "I'll always do that. No matter who is out there watching us."
The fact his parents were watching Saturday allowed an even more remarkable day. One worth waiting six years for.
I want to hear from you. Shoot any questions, comments and thoughts on Cheikh Mbodj to firstname.lastname@example.org and hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
When living outside the elite world of blue chip magnets like Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke, schools hoping to build national title contenders must rely on more than handpicking McDonald's All-Americans.
In the case of Cincinnati, the key to ascending from one scholarship player to the verge of three consecutive NCAA tournaments revolves around recruiting to a specific profile. For Mick Cronin, that means finding players owning the intangible of toughness.
The only thing more difficult than defining toughness would be finding it.
Books have been written searching for the answers. This may not be the most talented player on the court, but will be the one who relentlessly fights when a deficit grows. This may be from refusing to give in to size disadvantages or quickness deficiencies. This may be from never allowing an injury to provide an excuse.
No player in the Mick Cronin Era more defines the intangible at the core of Cronin's rebuilding profile more than JaQuon Parker.
"What happens at this level, it becomes hard to do the things you did in high school," Cronin said. "You got to have a toughness about you. You can win games with JaQuon Parker because he can get it done against any opponent. He can raise his level of play, his focus, his toughness and when it gets tough you can count on him."
One final time Saturday, the fans at Fifth Third Arena will count on him as the Bearcats take on USF on Senior Day. That means a list of statistics and numbers will be wheeled out in an attempt to put into words what Parker meant to the basketball program.
He's averaging 11.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game this season. He's contributed 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds each of the past two seasons. He stands 6-foot-4 but tied for the team lead in offensive rebounds (62) despite giving half a foot to most big men in the lane.
Those numbers sound great, but don't tell the Parker story. Turn on the film of Cincinnati against Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Watch Parker grab 11 rebounds, five offensive, over the top of an FSU front line standing 6-10 across the board. The extra possessions he added in a defensive slugfest as physical as any in the tournament showed Parker's immeasurable value.
That wasn't the first time he'd found away to pull off the improbable to alter the outcome of a game. Saturday won't be the last.
"There's two types of players: guys that help you win games and guys that don't," Cronin said. "Guys that help you win games they can do it in a multitude of ways. But if you can't get stuff done that's hard to get done, you are not going to make it as a player."
Parker almost didn't. A conversation about his options - including transferring -- came after a disappointing sophomore season. Fittingly, as times got tough, Parker rose above. Challenged by Cronin to improve, Parker became the difference as the team was able to play a four-guard offense without being bludgeoned on the glass because he could battle anyone on the interior.
Over four years he's played four positions and if they needed him to play center he'd happily step in and make it all five spots. Cronin constantly compliments Parker's conscientious nature and relentless desire to execute his teachings. That can be viewed as a blessing and a curse at times as his unselfishness could inhibit his natural ability to rack up points. Following an urge from Cronin to pick up scoring slack down the stretch he's averaged 13 points per game over the last six.
Again, as he's escorted to center court before Saturday's game, reciting those numbers won't tell the story. For all those who spent four years looking on at Fifth Third, they won't need to hear them.
"It will be kind of bittersweet," Parker said of his expectations for Saturday, "but at the end of the day I will feel OK because I gave my all while I was here."
Nobody can deny that. Toughness may be hard to define, but easy to recognize in motion. It looks exactly like JaQuon Parker.
I want to hear from you! Send any questions, comments or your own thoughts on Parker to email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
My friend and yours, New Media and Broadcasting Director Tom Gelehrter returns to his regular spot on the podcast this week as we recap all the behind-the-scenes from the trip to Louisville, rank who we think would be the best first-round matchup for the Big East tournament, swap stories about seniors Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker as well as break down the newly-released football schedule.
Of course, we devolve into other topics such as cookie attendants, the likely current condition of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Tommy uses his power to crush a social-media trend.
As always, follow all the video work of Tommy and the team right here at GoBearcats.com including updates from spring football, basketball media availabilities and every other sport at UC.
Remember to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Everyone is doing it. Just follow this link here and the new episodes will come directly to your iTunes account or podcasting application on your mobile device of choice. Just open up the link, View in iTunes and click subscribe.
When Cashmere Wright signed to play at Cincinnati in the class of 2008, he became one of most highly considered prospects of the Mick Cronin era. Depending upon the service, he ranked somewhere around the top 100 and among the top 20 point guards coming out that year. He took a chance on a UC program he believed could turn the corner on his watch.
Five years later, he concludes one of the more productive careers in recent memory for a point guard at UC with he hopes three consecutive trips to The Dance and proved to be one of the top recruits among his class. How close to the top was he? Because us media types love to poke into these types of lists I did some research to break down the rankings.
Let's take a look at the top 20 point guard rankings from Scout.com, plus the best of the rest of the three-star or higher recruits from his draft class and see how Cashmere Wright's career stacked up (Hint: Very well).
2008 Rank/Player/School (Stars): Career breakdown
1. Brandon Jennings, Europe (5): Never played a minute of college basketball, went to Europe then the NBA and stars for the Bucks
2. Kemba Walker, UConn (5): Big East title, national title, Charlotte Bobcats. You know the story.
3. Jerime Anderson, UCLA (4): Never topped 8.8. points in a season, dramatically underachieved.
4. Larry Drew II, UNC/UCLA (4): Struggled in two years at UNC, transferred while ripping Heels, avg 7.3 pts/7.8 assts for Bruins
5. DeAndre Liggins, UK (4): Mediocre player for UK, never averaged better than 8.6 points or 2.8 assists.
6. Andre Young, Clemson (4): Solid, consistent four-year career. 1,223 points, 342 assists, 184 steals. Had one tourney win.
7. Korie Lucious, MSU/ISU (4): Flamed out at Michigan State before transferring to Iowa State. OK there, averaging 10.1/5.6 assists
8. Damier Pitts, Marshall (4): Great for the Herd. 1,551 points, 517 assists, 101 steals. However, never made Big Dance.
9. Andrew Steele, Alabama (4): Bust. Never topped 6.6 points or 2.7 assists for Tide
10. Courtney Fortson, Arkansas (4): Two great years, went pro (16.0/5.1 assists/5.4 rebs). Hogs under .500 both years.
11. Bud Mackey, Nowhere (3): Never made it to college, ran into big problems with law.
13. Demetri Goodson, Gonzaga (3): Quit basketball to pursue college football at Baylor
14. Jio Fontain, USC (3): Transferred to USC two years and averaging 9.5 points and 5.2 assists this year.
15. Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall (3): Great career, 1,371 points, 541 assists, stellar senior year. But: zero NCAA trips
16. Tu Holloway, Xavier (3): You know the story: 1,833 points, 473 assists, Sweet 16 runs, did it all for X.
17. Dash Harris, Texas A&M (3): Never better than 6 points and 4.2 assists
18. Tray Woodall, Pitt (3). Similar productivity to Cash. 1,059 points, 572 assists, 115 steals. Longtime starter on good teams.
19. Paul McCoy, SMU/SMC (3): Bolted SMU for St. Mary's and flaming out there. Only 12 points in 47 min this year.
20. Kevin Dillard, SIU/UD (3): Productive at both (878 points last two years at UD).
BEST OF OTHERS
21. Mark Lyons, X/Arizona (3): Again, you know the story. Great player, but major chemistry issues at X.
25. Erving Walker, Florida (3): Killed it for UF. 1,777 points, 547 assists, 159 steals. Tourney runs.
26. Darryl Bryant, WVU (3): Solid contributor, scorer, but nearly one turnover for every assist.
30. Jordan Taylor, Wisky (3): His junior year in contention for NPOY -- 1,533 points, 464 assists, 159 steals (Huge #s for UW)
44. Isaiah Thomas, Washington (3): Stellar three years before going pro -- 1,721 points, 415 assists, 122 steals.
If you are weighing best contributions and production for the schools they committed to (eliminating transfers), the bucket would trim down to these 12: .
Kemba Walker, Andre Young, Damier Pitts, Courtney Fortson, Cashmere Wright, Jordan Theodore, Tu Holloway, Tray Woodall, Erving Walker, Darryl Bryant, Jordan Taylor, Isaiah Thomas.
Now, you have to eliminate those that didn't experience postseason success. College basketball is all about March and March is all about guards. If you didn't win there, you didn't win. That eliminates these three:
Damier Pitts (no tourney), Courtney Fortson (under .500 both years) and Jordan Theodore (no tourney).
That leaves these as the final nine. Up for debate how they'd rank, but mine looks something like this with Cash in a debate for the top five in his class -- tightly bunched with Holloway and Woodall -- when you weigh numbers, team success and tournament success:
Moral of the story -- it's easy to swing and miss in recruiting. Just look at that top 20 . Cashmere Wright not only didn't miss, but turned into one of the top 10 most productive careers nationally for his school of all those point guards in his class.
I want to hear from you! Send any questions, comments or your own memories of Cashmere Wright to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
The Big East and UC released their football schedule this afternoon. In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the breakdown:
Sat. Aug. 31: PURDUE
Sat. Sept. 7: at Illinois
Sat. Sept. 14: NORTHWESTERN STATE (La.)
Sat. Sept. 21: at Miami (Ohio)
Sat. Oct. 5: at South Florida
Fri. Oct. 11: TEMPLE (ESPN/ESPN2)
Sat. Oct. 19: CONNECTICUT
Wed. Oct. 30: at Memphis (8 p.m., ESPN2)
Sat. Nov. 9: SMU
Sat. Nov. 16: at Rutgers
Sat. Nov. 23: at Houston
Thu. Dec. 5: LOUISVILLE (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Three observations regarding the schedule:
1) Obviously, a wide variety of days of the week for the game. Luckily no Tuesday games, so #MACtion still has that market cornered. UC will play a game on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this year. Of course, last year they played on each of those days except for the rare Wednesday game.
It's rare even within the Big East this year, UC at Memphis is the only Wednesday game for a Big East team all year. While far from ideal, it's actually not a bad deal because it comes around a bye week, so Tommy Tuberville will have a week-and-a-half to prepare for both Memphis and the next week at home against SMU.
2) He'll also have two weeks to prepare for what could be the game of the year in the Big East, hosting Louisville on Thursday to close the regular season. Three of the last four years the Big East title has come down to a game the final week of the season and there's a chance this could be the latest incarnation.
Louisville will be the unanimous favorite to win the league, but a UC team returning its quarterback, all five starters on the offensive line and playmaker Ralph David Abernathy IV shouldn't be far behind.
Plus, UC-Louisville in what could be the final Keg Of Nails game for a while, will be the best rivalry games this conference owns next season. Understand, there's a reason the conference put the KON in that slot.
3) I'd argue the four toughest games of the season come at the beginning and end of the season. As was already know, the first two weeks of non-conference play were going to be more difficult. Starting with a B1G doubleheader home against Purdue and at Illinois.
Of course, Illinois was 2-10 last season and didn't beat a single BCS conference team. Their only wins came against Western Michigan and Charleston Southern. They nearly beat Purdue, who finished 6-7 overall and 3-5 in conference.
Two close the season, games against the conference's top two teams last year, Rutgers and Louisville, sandwich a trip to Houston. Those should be the two most anticipated games of the conference season. That leaves a very winnable seven-game stretch in the middle of the season where UC could make a name for themselves with an early B1G sweep.
I want to hear from you! Send any questions, comments or your own schedule observations to me at email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.