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Cancun Recap: Q & A with star guard Bjonee Reaves

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The Bearcats went 2-0 in Cancun over the Thanksgiving holiday, defeating South Dakota State and Chattanooga. I was able to give senior guard Bjonee Reaves a call and talk to her about the team's first road trip of the young season.

Q: What was the best thing about Cancun? (Basketball related)

BR: "I think it was getting two wins. We went out there to get two wins and that's what we did. Just accomplishing that goal was very big for us and I think it really boosted our confidence. The fact that that second game we did it together; the second game we won by working together and holding each other accountable. We grinded it out."

Q: What was the best thing about Cancun? (Non-basketball related)

"I would say the sun. The resort was the most beautiful place I've ever been to. We went jet-skiing, swimming, we went to the beach;  it was just an unexplainable experience, especially to spend it with my teammates. It was the perfect way to end my last year here."

Q: What do you think about this team now? 

BR: "I think we're on the right track. We still have so much work to do and we are nowhere near being a BIG EAST championship team. If we keep building and keep progressing every day, then I think we really could be a top team in this conference. If not this year, then for years to come. I feel like Cincinnati is going to be a team that people talk about as long as we keep working hard like we've been doing. All those things that make a good basketball team, I think we have all those pieces, now we just have to put it all in place."

Q: How did you step up as a leader while in Cancun?

BR: "I didn't really do too well defensively in the second game. When I did get in foul trouble I was able to let my team know that even though I wasn't out there I was going to make it seem like I was. Just giving them lots of encouragement from the bench, letting them know that I'm still there with them even though I'm not out on the court. If I was in a situation where one of my best players went out with foul trouble then that's like a downfall. I was just making sure that they knew that we needed to keep pushing forward."

Q: What was the most memorable moment from your time in Cancun?

BR: "I'd say the most memorable moment was when we went jet-skiing. It was so much fun, especially because most of us have never been jet-skiing before. The fact that we all did it together out in the ocean, under the sun. That's the one thing I'm really going to take away from the Cancun trip."

Q: Has the team morale improved since the preseason?

"I think we have improved tremendously. Especially for the new people, preseason was a time to just get your feet wet. Even for us it took us time to get used to not having some people from last year, as well as adding Day, and having Chanel who is healthy now. I think as each game progresses we're getting better and better at knowing our strengths and weaknesses. I think we are going to get a lot better."

Q: Was there a difference playing in Mexico than playing in the United States?

"There is a big difference. I think the difference is going through customs and doing things like that. Our trip was elongated because you have to go through customs and you have to go through all these security checkpoints and things like that. Traveling internationally is a lot more time consuming and it was our first road trip and it just happened to be in Mexico. I think we responded very well as a team."

Q: How did the Freshmen respond on their first road trip?

"I think they responded well and responded to the best of their abilities and that's all that we ask out of them. I think they've accepted what coach Elliott and the rest of the staff are trying to do here. I think Mexico was no different that playing at home, they were still buying in to what we are doing defensively, offensively, if they weren't in the game they were cheering. It's just a completely different team."

Q: Did it seem weird playing on Thanksgiving?

"No, not at all. It felt like a normal game day and we weren't even focused too much on Thanksgiving. I know some of us, including me, sat with our family that day and that was it. We had a game to play that day and we were focused. I think it showed that day because of how big of win we got."

Q: Who was the tougher opponent? South Dakota State or Chattanooga?

"It was definitely Chattanooga. The fact that they were able to watch us and see what we did against South Dakota State, they really were prepared for everything we had and everything we threw at them. They really gave us a run for our money. I think we needed that game as a program because now we know that we're not going to be able to come out and jump on teams and they're just going to roll over. Chattanooga just kept pushing and kept pushing, which is going to be like the rest of our games from here on out. I think it was a really good test for us and it brought us down a little bit. Now we have to go back to practice. Hopefully on Thursday we will see how much better we've gotten, which is our goal. We want to keep progressing and getting better everyday. We're not so much worried about what other teams or other schools are doing, we're focused on Cincinnati basketball and we're going to play Cincinnati basketball no matter what."    



Game Balls & Player Ratings: Evansville

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The Cincinnati Bearcats won their third consecutive game at Fifth Third Arena tonight and did so in convincing fashion, beating Evansville 64 to 34. Led by senior guard Bjonee Reaves, the Bearcats shot it well early before beginning to cool off as the second half got going. Still, it was an impressive performance from a team that is having no problem executing its offense in the early going this season. There were a lot of great performances tonight, but tonight's game balls are awarded to Reaves, Kayla Cook, and Tiffany Turner for their efforts and production.

Player ratings: (0-10; 10=Best)

Game Ball winners:

1. Bjonee Reaves, 9 -- Reaves was exciting and clutch once again for the Bearcats as she was able to amount 18 points in 23 minutes. On three occasions Reaves was able to finish off possessions with tough shots to beat the shot clock buzzer. Two of those shots were deep, three point baskets. Reaves went four-for-five from three-point range tonight. She was seven of eight from every where else on the floor as well. In addition, Reaves was able to showcase her passing abilities, leading the team with 4 assists. It was a solid and proficient outing for Reaves. These types of games should be expected out of the senior guard and will be needed in order to continue the success the Bearcats are experiencing.

"Bjonee plays with a lot of confidence," Head Coach Jamelle Elliott said. "Even when she's missing shots she thinks that she is going to make the next one. No matter what's going on in the game, she has confidence in her abilities. I'm just happy because she puts so much effort into her leadership, her emotions, and what she gives to our team everyday in practice."

"She's the first one to call the huddle when we need one in practice," Elliott said. "She believes in her self, I believe in her, the team believes in her, and the last few games she's really came out and set the tone for what it is we're trying to do to win basketball games." 

2. Kayla Cook, 8 -- What can I say about Kayla Cook? Well, the girl can flat out shoot the rock, for starters. Cook continued to show her streaky ability to shoot the ball tonight. She went four-for-five from three-point land and added a lay-up to give her 14 total points on the night. In Elliott's eyes, Cook is really becoming a combo-guard who can not only shoot from deep, but a player who can also put the ball on the floor and take it to the hole. Cook led all five starters in minutes played tonight, with 29, and is showing why she should be on opponents' scouting reports. This is Cook's first game ball this season and with steady performances like this game-in-and-game-out, she will always be on my game ball radar.

"Last year they kept saying that I'm going to be a good shooter," Cook said. "When I came back that was all I wanted to do. I wanted to continue working on my shot and I'm hoping later in the season to develop a jump shot instead of just being a spot-up three-point shooter."

"She has a lot more confidence in her ball handling ability this year than she had last year and it shows," Elliott said. "Most of the time when you are a spot-up shooter that's all that you can do. She can spot-up shoot it and she can take the ball to the basket. She goes 110 percent every play, so she's been somebody I know I can count on."

3. Tiffany Turner, 7 -- Turner, who was an honorable mention of my last game ball post, gains her first game ball this season in the team's win over Evansville. Turner who is nursing a sore knee was able to establish her dominance inside tonight amounting nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Turner was also able to add six points to her game-totals tonight and is a steady contributor so far for the Bearcats this season. It seems that every time Turner matches up with her opponent she is being labeled as "smaller". Her work ethic and intensity seems to make up for the size disparity every time, as Turner has shown a lot of improvement since last season. With the team counting on her for an inside presence until Jeanise Randolph returns from a back injury, Turner will have numerous chances to earn game ball honors.

"This year I've felt like I've just needed to prove something," Turner said. "I have a lot of strength now. I feel like I can battle against them even though they are undersized."

Honorable Mention: Dayeesha Hollins, 7 -- 10 points, two assists, two rebounds 

Game Balls & Player Ratings: Dayton

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The Bearcats are winners for the second time this season as they knocked off the Atlantic 10 favorite, Dayton Flyers, 75 to 64 at Fifth Third Arena in front of 645. The University of Cincinnati had four players score in double figures for the second consecutive game and were able to limit their turnovers by 10 tonight. Tonight's game balls are awarded to Bjonee Reaves, Chanel Chisholm, and Dayeesha Hollins for their efforts and production.

Player ratings: (0-10; 10=Best)

Game Ball winners:

1. Bjonee Reaves, 9 -- Reaves was absolutely stunning down the stretch tonight. The senior point guard scored a career-high 25 points on 21 shots. Her production did not stop there, Reaves was also able to add seven assists and five rebounds to the stat sheet. She scored 14 of her 25 points in the second half; helping propel the Bearcats past a Dayton comeback-scare. Reaves went five-for-six from the free throw stripe helping seal the game for UC. It was a staggering performance tonight for Reaves and she is a game ball winner for the first time this season.

"I was just finding my shots within the offense," Reaves said. "The fact that I was getting my teammates open and passing them the ball allowed me to get open shots myself. It was a collective effort tonight and I just feel like tonight was proof that on any given night anyone on our team can score. We are very versatile."

2. Chanel Chisholm, 7 --  Chisholm got off to another hot start for the Bearcats tonight shooting 70% from the field in the first half. She led all scorers at halftime with 14 points and finished the game with 15 points. She was also the leading re-bounder in the game amounting eight rebounds in 38 minutes tonight from a guard playing the forward position. She drove to the basket well and made sure not to let a taller Dayton team get second chance points by cleaning up on the boards. Thought to get her second career double-double in the second half, Chisholm was slowed down in the second half, but her first half output was pertinent to the team's success tonight and earned her another game ball for the 2011-12 season.

"You have to remember that Chanel is actually a guard. She played guard for us last year," Head Coach Jamelle Elliott said. "I moved her inside this year because I thought she would be a little more productive inside."

3. Dayeesha Hollins, 7.5 -- There were plenty "Dayeesha Hollins!" moments in tonight's game as the red shirt sophomore was able to escape pressure, get to the basket, and set her teammates up with easy shots frequently. Hollins did a phenomenal job handling the ball tonight for the Bearcats and led the team and the game with seven assists. She scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half as the Bearcats avoided a Dayton surge to move to 2-0. Hollins was very productive from the floor shooting 75% on eight shots. The only downside to her game tonight was her 1-for-5 shooting from the free throw line. The athletic ability she possesses seems like a women's version of Derrick Rose and her efforts earned her another game ball for the 2011-12 season.

"Because Dayeesha is so quick with the ball and she's a great ball handler she was able dribble out of the trap," Elliott said. "I'm happy we have Dayeesha, she is a player that is extremely quick with the ball, she's poised, she's under control, and she's normally doesn't turn the ball over. I have to have her out on the floor."

Honorable Mention: Tiffany Turner, 7 -- 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks

"Tiffany did a great job," Elliott said. "Tiffany is playing on all heart right now. She has a bum knee."


Previewing the opponent: Dayton Flyers

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The women's basketball team will have a tougher test tomorrow night when they face the University of Dayton at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena. The Flyers not only garnered votes in the pre-season AP poll, but also were tabbed in a first place tie with Temple as the Atlantic 10's pre-season favorite.

Three players on this Flyer team earned pre-season A-10 nomination. Dayton returns seven seniors, an unbelievably striking number for a team that finished last season with 21-12 overall and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Key contributors that may pose problems for the Bearcats include, senior Justine Raterman, senior Casey Nance, and senior  Patrice Lalor.

Raterman who is a starting forward for Head Coach Jim Jabir and the Flyers was named to the Los Angeles Athletic Club Women's Preseason Top 30 list for the John R. Wooden Award. She poses size and skill and is a player that will play in the paint as well as behind the arc.
Nance is an imposing center standing at 6-foot-5 and is also one of the captains for this senior ridden squad. She is second all-time in blocks for Dayton and was a pre-season All-Defensive team selection at the Atlantic 10's media day in Newport News, Va.

Lalor is Dayton's starting point guard and is also a captain for the Flyers. She has shown the ability to score in bunches, which will give Head Coach Jamelle Elliott and the Bearcats a tough match-up come tomorrow night.

Dayton lost their season opener to the University of Toledo after starting the game out slow and surrendering 10 straight points. This result proves that the Flyers may be vulnerable on the road, but they will also be trying to avenge their loss to the Rockets against a fellow Ohio program in Cincinnati. 

Q & A with starting guard Kayla Cook

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I was able to catch sophomore guard Kayla Cook after her workout and chat with her for a little while. Below are some of the talking points we discussed.

Q: Why number 10?

KC: "I was number 30 in high school and number 12 in AAU. I'm an even number person, so coming in, 10 just seemed like it was an in-between number. I just picked 10 and I'm really glad I picked it, I like this number now."

Q: What's your favorite: the white, the black, or the red uniforms?

KC: "I like the red jerseys. I just think we look sharp in them and I just really enjoy wearing them. It's the ring of red game and that's a really cool game to play in."

Q: Would you rather hit the winning shot or create the winning shot with an assist?

KC: "Create the winning shot. When you create the winning shot you're setting your teammate up and your team to win. Yeah, it's great to hit the game winning shot, but I would just rather have the assist."

Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

KC: "I listen to the same song over and over now. Last year I had a song and this year I have a new song. The song is "Doing It Wrong" by Drake. I listen to it before every game."

Q: What's your favorite basketball movie?

KC: "Love and Basketball. I just like the romance part and how they fell in love through basketball."

Q: Who is your toughest opponent?

KC: "I feel like Notre Dame is going to be our toughest opponent. Don't get me wrong everybody in our conference is going to be good and even out of conference, but the toughest opponent that we are really looking forward to play is Notre Dame. We look forward to those games."

Q: What characteristic do you think a Bearcat must have?

KC: "I feel like to be a Bearcat here you have to have the competitiveness and be able to compete and play hard for 40 minutes. You have to be mentally and physically focused all the time. Coach is the type of person who is going to drive you, so you have to give the energy back to her."

Q: If you had a winning celebration or dance what would it be?

KC: "I guess just being in the huddle with my team. You know, us getting together and high-fiving and pushing each other around would be it because basketball is a team sport and I look at it as I'm losing and winning with my team. Just being around my team and just being hyped through that."

Q: What's the best thing about being a Bearcat?

KC: "Just the atmosphere and being around here. Just being around coaches and my teammates and just being able to play ball. It's just a great atmosphere and we're a family, so it's just great to have the connection that I do with my team."   

Game Balls & Player Ratings: IPFW

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The Bearcats won in convincing fashion tonight against IPFW. Four players scored in double figures and UC was able to put up 74 points while only allowing 42. This is the first edition of Game Balls & Player Ratings and this feature will be showcased after every home game this season. Tonight's game balls go to Chanel Chisholm, Dayeesha Hollins, and Alyesha Lovett for their efforts and production.

Player ratings: (0-10; 10=Best)

Game Ball winners:

1. Chanel Chisholm, 9 -- Chisholm got off to a red-hot start scoring seven of the first nine points for the Bearcats. She quickly reached double figures while also playing a key role on the defensive end. She was a stat sheet stuffer tonight recording her first career double-double adding 13 rebounds to her game-high 19 points. She also had three steals and three blocks. She propelled the squad tonight and set the pace for the convincing win. Chisholm will have to keep her defensive presence prominent because of a recent injury to starting forward Jeanise Randolph. Overall, it was a very nice performance for Chisholm, who in her senior season should be a recurring game ball winner.

"Previous to the game I knew I had to just focus on making shots," Chisholm said. "Honestly, I just knew I had to crash the boards a lot especially when Jeanise was out. I know that I can come in, go hard on the boards, and get some rebounds to help my team out."

"One of the things I told my team going into the game was we have two post-players that are pretty banged up," Elliott said. "One of the things we talked about was other guys stepping up at the things they're good at. Chanel is good at driving at the basket, offensive rebounding, and creating some points off her steals. She did that today." 

2. Dayeesha Hollins, 7.5 -- Hollins was not able to get off to the quick start that she did in last week's exhibition match against NKU, but Hollins got it going in the second half amounting 17 points for the game. Based on the type of player she is it will be tough for any team to stop her from scoring. Hollins was also able to get her teammates involved consistently tonight and added to the team's defense recording three steals. Hollins should be a recurring game ball winner this season and for good reason. Not a spectacular performance overall, but a memorable one for the new Bearcat.

"One thing about Dayeesha is I've had a chance to see her two years now, in practice, and now in couple games," Elliott said. "She can score a lot of different ways. She can shoot the three, she can drive to the basket and finish, she can pull-up, and she can play good defense. A kid like that who is able to score so many different ways is going to be hard to really shut out."  

3. Alyesha Lovett, 7 -- Lovett makes the most out her minutes. The talented freshman was third on the team in scoring tonight, but most importantly she did it while being a spark off the bench. She will have to keep up the intensity in order to be a common game ball winner this season, but she has started the season off with a bang. Able to control the pace and handle the ball as well, Lovett is another option at the guard position that can score double-figures every game. Overall, Lovett showed signs of stardom and in my estimation will become a fan favorite as the season progresses. 

"I just wanted to keep up the intensity that the team already had," Lovett said. "Going in there and making some quick shots helped my team out. My team helped me out in practice too and they pushed me hard so I think I was ready."

"She's a scorer. That's why I recruited here to come to Cincinnati," Elliott said. "She was an excellent three point shooter in high school, she's able to take the ball to the basket, she's long, and she's lengthy, so she can create some steals with deflections. I like having her out there."

Reaves and Chisholm lead as senior class

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Seniors Bjonee Reaves and Chanel Chisholm did not start there collegiate careers at the University of Cincinnati four years ago like the three newcomers we recently previewed are doing this season. Instead, the two savvy veterans arrived at UC via other programs and have now made their mark on an improving program looking to be competitive in the Big East.

An captain's job is not always aimed at scoring the most points or being the most productive player on the court at all times. While Reaves and Chisholm will be counted on as those type of key players this season, they know that their leadership and role model qualities are just as important.

Reaves who transfered to UC alongside Chisholm in 2009, first played the game she loves at Neosho County Community College is Chanute, Kansas after graduating high school in California. There she scored the ball at a prolific rate, averaging 20.6 points per game, which was good enough for fifth in scoring in the NJCAA that season. Now poised to continue her presence as a scoring guard and have the best season of her career, Reaves knows exactly what she needs to do to be successful. She's never been more hungry to win.

"I want to get stops defensively and I also want to shoot the ball consistently, that is my goal this year," Reaves said. "I want us to win. I want to be able to say we gave it everything we got and that our record reflects that."

Chisholm also came to UC after getting her start elsewhere, except it was not at junior college instead in the SEC. Chisholm of Long Island, New York attended Vanderbilt for two seasons until arriving with Reaves in 2009. Chisholm was a big addition for the Bearcats because she brought over experienced success with the Commodores making a sweet 16 appearance while she was there. Chisholm now knows the team must build off their prior experience and make this season one to remember.

"One of the biggest games we had last year was our Marquette game because it was our senior night and we wanted to go out with a bang," Chisholm said. "We had just finished a long losing streak, so it just showed that we had heart and character and even though we lost that many games in a row we were able to come out and compete again."

Both players are aware of what the job description entails when being a senior. Their play on the court must set a precedent for the rest of the team, but Reaves knows that being the floor general is also an important facet of an upperclassmen's game. She believes she must have coach-like attributes on the floor in order to pick her team up when they are down and lead by example.

"I would say picking the team up when they're down, making sure everyone is keeping energy and also not being hypercritical," Reaves said. "If I am going to tell someone that they should be doing this then I need to make sure I'm doing it too."

Chisholm's road to UC may not have been a scripted one. She had to make several stops along the way until she reached her final destination, and no, I'm not talking about the Long Island Railroad trips that she endured growing up in New York. I'm simply talking about her road to Cincinnati, which maybe a stressful one, is now a place she will always remember and can call home.

"One thing that I'll always keep with me are the people in Cincinnati, that is one of the main reasons I came here initially," Chisholm said. "I can be around these people every day and I feel like they really care and they genuinely support womens basketball and they want to see us win."

Both student athletes are poised for a breakout season and many memories to come alongside their final year in the red, white and black. The memories have already started to pile up however. The two accompanied head coach Jamelle Elliott and the program to New York City a couple weeks ago for Big East Media Day. Reaves and Chisholm represented UC and were able to interact with their fellow peers while have a good time doing it.

"It was an amazing experience being in a room with some of the top players in the country and hall of fame coaches, I was just in amazement," Reaves said. "I had a blast. It was my first time in New York, so going to Times Square and seeing that type of atmosphere was amazing and I actually wish I could do it again."

"I really enjoyed going to the media day because you get to see a lot of the girls you compete with and you get to see them off the court. I enjoyed that aspect," Chisholm said. "Also, I'm from New York so I got to see some family and friends and that is always nice."

The co-captains will take the court with their team tomorrow for their first exhibition game of the season. The Bearcats will host Northern Kentucky University at Fifth Third Arena at 7 p.m.

Around the Big East: Q & A with coach Elliott

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Since Big East media day there hasn't been much buzz about the upcoming season. Discussions about what Skylar Diggins' production will be has surfaced on the web, but no real substance or any developing stories have come up.

So instead of searching for the story that isn't there, why not get the thoughts of head coach Jamelle Elliott on some of the early headlines in the Big East. From her thoughts on expansion to UCONN being chosen second in the preseason poll, Elliott shares her answers.

1.  What was your reaction when you heard that Notre Dame was picked over UCONN for the preseason Big East Championship?

"I think it's well deserved for Notre Dame to be picked number one. They beat UCONN in the national semifinal game last year and went on to the national championship for one. Number two is you look at who UCONN lost, Maya Moore, being one of them and the main one. Then you look at who Notre Dame lost, I think UCONN lost a lot more production from a scoring stand point and a leadership standpoint then Notre Dame did. Rightfully so, Notre Dame deserves to be number one. But it doesn't matter where your picked to start off it only matters where you end up."

2. Would you compare Skylar Diggins' game to that of Maya Moore when she had so much success at UCONN and was the best player in the Big East?

"I think she's a great talent. I think she can be mentioned in the same breath as Tina Charles and Maya Moore and whoever else has won player of the year. I think she's proven that on the court, she's a point guard, she handles the ball a lot, she's a great shooter, she gets to the basket, she's left-handed, so I think her being picked player of the year is well deserved."

3. The Bearcats have been picked 15th in the preseason for the second straight season. Why do you think your team is having so much trouble rising in the preseason polls?

"I don't know. I think they probably looked at the fact that we lost 16 points a game with Shareese Ulis as a senior, who was our leading scorer. Our second leading scorer was only at seven or eight points a game, so I'm sure they looked at that. The fact that we are young, we have eight or nine freshmen or sophomores, so with that being said I think they probably just figured that with us losing so many point outputs and us being so young that their opinions were to put us there. But, again it doesn't matter where you started it matters where you end up. Obviously I've used that as a little bit of a motivator for our team and I don't think our team is practicing like the 15th best team in the league."

4. What kind of reactions do you have when your team doesn't have any players nominated to all-conference teams during the preseason?

"We're in a strong conference. We have 16 teams in our conference and only 10 players are picked and a couple honorable mention on the first team, so that just goes to show you how many great players we have in our conference. Obviously my better players are young, freshmen and sophomores, so we're just kind of making our mark now and I think hopefully in the future we'll get the recognition from individual players for the conference, but if we don't, we don't. I'm more concerned with how we finish as a team."

5. Your former head coach, Geno Auriemma won the Wooden Award's Legends of Coaching honor this year. What are your thoughts on that accomplishment?

"My reaction to that is that it is well deserved. He's the best coach in the country. I played for him and I worked for him for a number of years and he's obviously proven that he's a winner and he's doing things the right way. I think it's a great thing that the Wooden people are recognizing him as the coach of the year and I think it's well deserved."

6. We obviously don't know where UC fits in regrading expansion. What have you heard and what are your thoughts about this whole process because it does affect your program?

"I don't have an ideal situation I just trust President Williams and Whit Babcock to keep us in the loop of what's going on. I believe they are going to put Cincinnati in the best position possible so that we are in a good place moving forward. My only comment on it is that I'll just be glad when it's settled so we know who is in our conference, who we are playing, so we can go out and recruit knowing who our conference is made of. I'm going to leave that to my AD and my President who do a good job of keeping me informed.

Bearcat freshmen bring unique attributes to this year's squad

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The Bearcats have been relying on solid recruiting to improve their win, loss record and finish higher in the Big East. Head Coach Jamelle Elliott and the women's basketball squad has three freshmen that bring different attributes to floor, but share the same common goal: build a winning program.

Chelsea Jamison, Alyesha Lovett, and Talequia Hamilton are new to the team this season and are poised to help out in any way, shape and form. Each may play a different role this season, but they will always remain a unit that sticks together through adversity and triumph.

"Everybody is playing a role right now," Elliott said. "I think some of the freshmen's roles are bigger than others."

Lets meet the freshmen one by one featuring their specific skills that will aid the team's success this season.

The Shooter:

Alyesha Lovett comes from Newark, N.J. and was ranked as the no. 71 player in the nation by ESPN Hoopgirlz. She is a proven winner. She was a key member of three straight state championship teams while in high school and was also named Lady Bulldog of the Year during one of her four seasons. She was Cincinnati's top recruit this offseason as she chose UC over other Big East programs such as PIttsburgh and Syracuse among others.

"I came here because I liked the team and the program that is building up," Lovett said. " That's what I wanted to do, help build up a program."

Lovett says that her strongest attribute is her shooting. A hopeful scorer off the bench this season, Lovett will be called on to use her shooting expertise in pivotal situations.

"I like to shoot," Lovett said. "I always look to drive and shoot and make a good play basically."

Elliott said that Lovett has been the most impressive freshman in practice thus far and will be playing a key role during this season. She has been able to grasp the system quicker than the other two girls according to Elliott.

"I think Aleysha Lovett is the one that has shown the most promise," Elliott said. "Just her natural, raw ability, talent and instincts."

The Rebounder:

Chelsea Jamison is from close by Indianapolis, Indiana and was a three-year varsity starter at her high school. One of her greatest achievements was scoring a school record 43 points. She also averaged a staggering 10.5 rebounds per game and that is the attribute she said she loves the most and hopes to bring to the floor for the Bearcats.

"My best attribute on the floor is I like to rebound," Jamison said. "In order to leave a legacy I think I would have to go game speed all the time and work harder to learn the system."

Jamison who has been improving in practices according to Elliott has just taken a step back. She is currently suffering from a concussion and is limited in workouts because of it. There is no time table for her return to full participation, but with weeks left on the calender before the start of the season there is ample time for her to regain her health and join her teammates in workouts.

"Chelsea was making some really good progress, but she just got a concussion about three or four days ago," Elliott said. "That has kind of set her back a little bit."

The Shot Blocker:

Talequia Hamilton reigns from Huntingon, W.Va. where she played at the same program as NBA star O.J. Mayo. She reached conference player of the year status her senior year and was named to first-team all state during the same season. Hamilton stressed that her shot blocking skills have always been a part of her game that was stellar. Not to mention her aspirations to be the next Candace Parker or Brittney Griner and dunk a basketball during her career.

"I think my biggest attribute would be shot blocking because I've always been good at that," Hamilton said. "I've always wanted to dunk as well, I'm a little ways off, but I think if I keep working hard it will happen."

Hamilton also gained high praise from her head coach. Elliott likes Hamilton's intensity in practice and believes that her play in practice makes everyone else on the team better. While she shows promise, Elliott did stress that she has a ways to go and has not made the starting rotation yet in practice.

"She's probably one of our best, if not our best practice player," Elliott said. "It's really hard to score against her and she's really hard to guard when she's playing on that other team in practice."

The team opens exhibition play a week from Saturday when the Bearcats take on Northern Kentucky at Fifth Third Arena.

Big East Media Day

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The season is near.

The Big East conference held both its men's and women's media days in New York City with the women's side of things taking part today. Key players and coaches from every Big East program took to the big apple to take part in the festivities.

The most surprising news from the early goings this morning was the Lady Huskies being viewed as the second best team in the Big East to start this season. Notre Dame and last season's NCAA tournament stand out Skylar Diggins were voted the preseason favorite to win the conference. You can see the preseason poll here and enjoy a snippet about each program.

Cincinnati may not have anymore believers this year than they did last season. The Bearcats were voted to finish second to last, an identical ranking from last seasons completed Big East standings. Jamelle Elliott and the squad believe they will not have a losing season and finish higher in the Big East standings.

Coaches also voted for the preseason All-Big East team and honorable mentions while in NYC. Diggins was picked as the preseason player of the year. UCONN's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis won preseason freshman of the year honors.  UCONN also led the way garnering three players voted as preseason stand outs. Two Lady Huskies were viewed as all-conference performers, while one was listed as a honorable mention. No Bearcats were voted as preseason all-conference performers or honorable mention.

UC senior Bjonee Reaves has an interview in which she discusses playing in the Big East and what she plans to get done during her senior season. You can watch Reaves' interview here. You can also follow this link to view all the videos shot today in NYC.

Want more live Big East women's basketball news and coverage? Be sure to follow the conference on twitter @BIGEASTWBB. The 2011-12 Big East media guide is also available for download.