Heard it From Hoard: Column 35
There are few things in life that always live up to expectations.
A trip to Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. The Will Ferrell cowbell skit. A steamed lobster. Sunday at The Masters. The Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout.
This year's game was the latest in a long line of nail biters and while the outcome was disappointing, you have to be encouraged by the hustle and toughness the Bearcats displayed.
This much is obvious - the return of a healthy Jamual Warren makes a huge difference, and the 'Cats probably would have at least two more wins if he hadn't been injured. Jamual is not a good outside shooter, but the team clearly feeds off of his aggressiveness and everybody gets better shots because of his willingness and ability to attack the basket. Warren finished with 10 points and 7 assists against Xavier and easily could have had a double-double if his teammates had made more layups. When everyone was trying to analyze why UC was playing so poorly to begin the season, I don't think Jamual's absence received enough mention.
If the Bearcats continue to play as hard as they did against XU, they will definitely surprise some teams this season. I won't try to guess how many Big East games they are going to win, but I think making it to New York for the Big East Tournament remains a logical goal.
I had the pleasure of attending Brian Kelly's news conference today previewing the Papajohn's.com Bowl against Southern Miss. As you might expect, after a few questions about the game, reporters fired off several about his future as the Bearcats head coach. I thought his answers were honest and entertaining, especially when asked if current players are quizzing him about his future plans.
"Oh sure, there's always that rumbling of 'Is coach gonna be here or not gonna be here,' clearly you have to deal with that," Coach Kelly said. "But we're gonna deal with that again next year because we're gonna win 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 games - we're gonna continue to win and every year the same thing is going to happen. So everybody is tuned into the fact that these things happen when you're successful in this business."
Kelly stressed that his ambition is to win a national championship and he believes that's a realistic possibility at UC.
"There isn't a better way to get into the BCS than the Big East. I think we all can clearly see that just using Missouri as an example. Missouri goes through the regular season and beats everybody, goes to the conference championship and loses and they're playing in a non-BCS bowl. Here in this league, you don't have a play-in game; the winner of the league goes to the BCS. I believe that the Big East gives you a great opportunity to get in, and that was my original attraction to the University of Cincinnati. I got that. I saw that way before anybody else here was even thinking that way because nobody was thinking Cincinnati could be a BCS qualifier. Can we get there? Well, we've got to continue to move forward in the things I've talked about from day one. We've got a Top 20 team, we need a Top 20 program, and those are some of the things we've engaged in talking about (in contract talks). Cincinnati understands those things and I expect them to get done."
I should add another item to the list of things that always live up to expectations: A Brian Kelly news conference.
In honor of the late George Edward "Skip" Prosser, the topic for "Dan and Chuck's Starting Five" for the Crosstown Shootout was the top five players who were always referred to by their nickname (not necessarily a list of the most colorful nicknames). Here's our starting lineup.
World B. Free
Finally, I'm a little behind on downloading photos, so a new shot of the handsome lad will have to wait until next week.
I'd love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org