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TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

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I saw the lead in the first half of the UC-West Virginia game and thought this lead won't last on the road in the Big East. But it was enough, I thought, to withstand the inevitable "run" that most teams make at home. Alas, UC couldn't maintain the lead and lost a tough, need to win game, to the Mountaineers and former UC chief Bob Huggins. It makes the tournament ticket a little harder to get; kind of like trying to get tickets to a sold out show. Its possible but you have to have some connections to make it happen. In this case connections are "wins and friends"; wins in the tournament and friends on the selection committee who are sympathetic of your plight. 

I don't know what the end looks like but I'm trying to find something to embrace about this team and their recent struggles so I simply say at least we're still in the NCAA conversation when other aren't. I know for many of you that's not good enough point taken, but if you were DePaul or even UC of several years ago you would acknowledge the improvement amidst the frustration. With the Big East tournament coming up the only thing that works in UC's favor is that they CAN play with the better teams in the conference but have to find a way to play with them for 40 minutes. That will give them the best shot of getting that hard to find ticket and giving us something to celebrate other than possibilities. Yes, I'm still rooting for them but that's what fans and friends do...

That's the way I see it sitting in The Box Seat

STICK PIN IN HAND

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Have you ever been in a relationship that's headed downhill fast, and the more you do to try and save it, the more you mess it up? Well that has to be how the 'Cats and Mick Cronin feel. Its like this year they finally move into position to be considered a tournament team and since then they've struggled. As one of my friends on facebook said "They're on life support". You wonder how? why? especially when you know what's at stake; and it always sends me back to the quotable Bengal linebacker James Francis who so eloquently stated "They get paid to make plays too." Every team in the Big East is getting paid (so to speak) to win and there is no off night in this league. So when you imagine UC not giving thier all maybe you should imagine the other team fighting to survive as well. Maybe its for seeding and maybe like UC its just to dance.

Either way UC coaches have got to find the hidden code to tap into these kids stove and light the fuse that won't burn out. Let them run practice, give them the job of the pre-game speech; Let them conduct film study or even game plan the next game. But as they say, drastic times call for drastic measures. Maybe they should bring me back to introduce the lineups again...(shameless plug) but it did fire up the players...get it? fire up??

Right now the bandwagon is probably getting 40 miles to the gallon as people jump off in bunches and that's to be expected. What's not to be expected is a talented team struggling so much and it hurts them much more than it does us. I think people forget no one enjoys losing, especially the participants. They have the players, they have the coaches but what they don't have is a solution; and that is the biggest need right now. I for one, hope they find it before the Big East Tournament so they can stick the pin in someone else' balloon.

That's the way I see it...Sitting In The Box Seat. 

 

 

BIG (EAST) WIN!

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I wonder how many thought the UConn rematch was going to bury UC in the conference and in the NCAA tournament talk. After losing to the 'Cats, and Jim Calhoun returning I'm sure many thought emotions alone would carry the Huskies to a easy win; but as I've continued to say, this is a series of one game season and UC just won another one that keeps their (NCAA) post season hopes alive. With U of L beating Syracuse it further illustrates that the Big Beast has talent from top to bottom and it bodes well for RPI rankings and last minute arguments about how many Big East teams should get in. You have to keep UC in the conversation and if they can win at South Florida, they will definitely have a little momentum on their side.

The grind (a term for working without stopping) really intensifies now that the regular season is drawing to a close and the league tournament draws near. As i've said lets look at the body of work at the end not in the middle or after one bad loss. So keep tabs on the conference, the team and yes for those who want to micro manage, Mick too. But don't make a decision until its all over. That may be later than you think, and more in line with what you were wishing at the start of the season. Even Roy Williams and his North Carolina Tar Heels are struggling and you thought UC had expectations?

It is no doubt a tough time being a UC basketball fan these days but with wins like the most recent against UConn it gives you a wing and a prayer that this season can offer a post script akin to selection Sunday when UC sits around together to find out where they play...and fans uttered the tattered tale: I knew they were going to make it...

That's the way I see it...Sitting In The Box Seat

THE ORANGE AND THE CONN

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Well now we know what it's like to play one of the top ranked teams in the country as Syracuse paid us a visit yesterday and added number 10 to their Big Beast win total. UC had an early lead and as all top ranked fighters do, and even the New Orlean Saints did yesterday, they adjust. The Orange did and with a veteran coach on the sideline, calm was in order. I love Jim Boeheim's style more than Bobby Knight's. It reminds me of John Wooden who reportedly yelled in practice but was cool hand Luke on the court, as was Denny Crum and others. A case could be made either way but I digress.

Don't let this game or the next one against UConn change what can happen as far as post season opportunities with this team. Their RPI took a positive step playing against the 'Cuse and being in the Big East still matters. With the conference tournament being a new season, the 'Cats still have a chance to make a statement that warrants a tournament bid.

As I said it's a series of one game season and that one game season with Syracuse is over; now its on to UConn, who like Notre Dame, is seeking revenge. I love listening to the indecisive fans who from one game to the next praise and persecute Mick. It confirms one, they don't have any loyalty and two they don't know basketball and/or how to evaluate success.

The body of work gets you in or out of the tournament and with more work to go before the season is over, pretend you're the NCAA and wait until the Big East tournament and then judge this team and this season. Anything else would be uncivilized; but then again who said a fan was? That's the way I see it...Sitting In The Box Seat...

JUST WIN (AT HOME) BABY

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Everybody that follows football my age knows the old saying of a (then) mentally stable Al Davis, managing partner of the Oakland Raiders. They did everything to win and made no apologies for it.

With UC on the verge of an NCAA tournament apperance after a long absence, I modified the phrase just a little. UC's win over Providence was big for a number of reasons but the biggest was ensuring home court from here out. With 4 games at home and five on the road, UC needs to keep winning at the Big Orena to get at least 9 wins in conference. If they held serve at home and "stole" one on the road, that to me aligns them with AllState NCAA insurance by putting them in good hands.

I like the adage one coach used that its a series of one game seasons and in the Big East there is no better philosophy. Notre Dame is waiting on UC after Luke Harongody was greeted with BBL, Big Body Language at the shoe; He was held under his average and UC got a big win at the time. So they are looking for payback and UC is looking to prove thier win wasn't accidental. No matter how you look at it, this one game season against the fighting Irish is the only game (season) that matters. If you look at anything but the target, chances are you'll miss completely.

I think UC basketball has proven they are headed in the right direction with TV tournament talk including the 'Cats and Big East respect in place. To win they will have to tighten up thier end of game play, something I hope they're doing with every practice because as we all know it comes down to one or two plays at the end of every game in every sport. A coach once told me that the habit of working on game ending plays in practice translates to a habit of game winning plays in the game. Repitition is its own defintion...repitition is its own defintion...That's the way I see it...Sitting In The Box Seat.

NO MORE FREEDOM

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It didn't go the way we hoped for, UC's last trip to Freedom Hall but it was indeed their last time thier as the Cards prepare to move into thier new digs. So many memories over the years I'm curious as to what yours are? I think of all the games and both teams being ranked and playing a home and home which made the rivalry even more intense. I don't like the fact that's not an annual occurance anymore but blame it on the Big Beast.

Anyway here's to a historical building of hoops where so many games have become the basis of tall tales that grow annually; and now that the building will no longer house the 'Ville, the stories will grow beyond life size. UC and U of L are both struggling this year and that just doesn't seem right as they were always kings of the hill in the past but with the creation of mega-conferences that is a thing of the past.

But here's to all the games good and bad, historical and not so, and to the memories of a place I've had the pleasure of watching many a game. Freedom Hall has given way to suite deals and corporate influence and hopefully in the transition the game of basketball will maintain its rightful place as the main attraction. In Kentucky the thorobreds should always have center stage on the track and on the court. That's the way I see it...Sitting In The Box Seat

UC IS BETTER BUT...

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So is everybody else in the Big East. News flash for all you Cronin haters: UConn, and all the other schools who were ahead of UC talent wise still are. UC wasn't the only school to upgrade their roster talent wise during the recruiting period sooooo....

If UConn was already better than UC and got better, then they're still better! Got it? So the win against UConn was BIG. Pitt, Georgetown, and yes even West Virginia got better but they were already better...Get it? I guess I get tired of the bashing without people looking at the bigger picture that is the truth. UC has gotten better; look at the roster and the level of play and the other key factors. That being said, could they have played better in some games? Absolutely; but the fact we're expecting them to win now means you're admitting they're better and that credit goes to the coaches. If you didn't think so you wouldn't be so upset when they lose games they should win.

Face it hard nose, slightly talented critics: UC is better but so is the rest of the Big East. And its going to take a breakthrough year and/or player to get them over the hump and several years of that to stay there. If you're expecting anything else then you're fooling yourself and admitting you know very little about competition and athletics. Want another example? Look at UK; they had Patrick Patterson but when they sign Calipari and the Memphis freshman class came with him, they look like a different UK squad. Had he not signed those players don't fool yourself and think they'd be 17-0.

As one coach told me: "It ain't the X & O's but the Jimmy's and Joe's" that win basketball games. I tend to agree that its easier to coach Oscar Robertson or Michael Jordan and get a win than it is to coach you or I to do the same. And they add a Scotty Pippen and we add a Scotty Pippen, they're still better.

That's they way I see it sitting in the Box Seat...

THE BIG EAST IS...

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A Beast! I've heard coach after coach proclaim it and I still think from top to bottom its still the toughest conference in college basketball. Night in and night out the physical play and the demands on your bench make it a grind that's long and unending. So don't make too much out of the start good or bad because their is a long way to go. Then comes the tournament and that's another season in itself. I think this team has improved dramatically and Mick and his staff should be commended but most don't care about commendations when the season is active. Well I'm not going to wait, knowing where this program was several years ago. No one has UC down as an easy win and the big teams like UConn know they have to bring it to get it.

So lets let the whole season unfold and see what happens. Oh by the way that includes the Big East tournament. Remember Syracuse' run? The quote rings true even today: "Its not how you start, its how you finish." I couldn't have said it better...

That's the way I see it sitting in the Box Seat...

Ex-Zach-ly Where Was Collaros?

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I was at the Sugar Bowl and was impressed first and foremost with two things; One the number of UC faithful that showed up in bunches and took over New Orleans and secondly, the graciousness of the young UC football players. Both made the trip even more special in spite of the game.

Speaking of the game; I watched as UC hit the field with the white helmets and the crowd hyped as expected and then the game happened...you know the rest. Many of us were wondering where was Zach Collaros? If Tim Tebow can be mulit-dimensional then why couldn't we do the same? We all remember how electrifying he was at home and they same teams don't like to face mirror images of themselves, so why not let them have a taste of a quarterback like theirs? Pike has the arm and height but he doesn't have mobility. When you get that kind of pressure Florida showed and the defense knows your QB can't scramble they tee off. So I'm wondering what if...?

Well no dwelling needed it was a great year for UC football and after meeting Coach Butch Jones I'm convinced it will still be a rock solid program next year. Lets hope the stability of a coaching staff will prepare them for the next bowl game. Two years of lackluster post season football will make fans think twice about attending another bowl game and believing we have a chance to win. After meeting Coach Jones, I think our belief will peak and our swagger will return; but tackling will help.

That's the way I see it sitting in the Box Seat... 

UC Orleans

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We're here in New Orleans for the 2010 Sugar Bowl and I'm wondering who's in Cincinnati? Why you ask and the answer is simple: You can't go anywhere in New Orleans without seeing Cincinnati representing in full force. Red, Black and combinations of the two dominate the fashion in the Big Easy and every hotel seems to have a majority Bearcat guest list. Notable names like Marty Brennaman, Dan Hoard and others are here to see and call the game and I don't have time or space to mention how many former players are here either. Just know New Orleans has been transformed and seems like UC Orleans. Bourbon Street is Short Vine and the Marriott on Canal is Fountain Square, serving as the host hotel. Current players are signing footballs, taking pictures and spending time with proud parents while trying to focus on Florida. I almost forgot its New Years Eve and another celebration will precede the Sugar Bowl and hopefully a second celebration will follow the game.

Regardless, its a nice environment, seeing the 'Nati take over the town and according to the valet attendants and the other important caretakers of the city, they've never seen anything like it in a while. Me either; I've been to Super Bowls and it reminds of the Bengals playing in Miami against the 49ers in that classic where fans covered every square inch of Miami and South Beach. All in all its a blessing to be here amongst the Bearcat faithful and the only thing left to do is cheer and watch the UC play football...their way. That's the only way the New Year should start.

That's the way I see it sitting in the Box Seat...