Heard it From Hoard: Column 47
In retrospect, what's harder to believe; that UC beat Louisville and West Virginia on the road, or that the Bearcats lost to Providence and DePaul at home?
Let's face it, the 'Cats aren't inexplicably crumbling like the Giuliani campaign and their head coach hasn't suddenly gone from being Don Shula to Dave Shula. The painful truth is that Cincinnati is a flawed team with little margin for error. In fact, the Bearcats are a bit like former American Idol finalist Sanjaya (minus the fauxhawk); likeable and hard-working but not talented enough to finish near the top.
I'll admit it, I was fooled. When the Bearcats climbed to 8-5 in the Big East, I figured they would finish with at least 10 league wins and possibly go to the NIT or the new CBI. That would have been an incredible accomplishment for Coach Cronin and the team in the year 3 AB (After Bob), and postseason play is still not out of the question.
But this is a team that lacks offensive firepower and that's hard to overcome in the Big East. The Bearcats only have two double-digit scorers in Deonta Vaughn and John Williamson. UConn and Providence have five, and six of the other Big East teams have four. As a result, opposing coaches don't exactly need the tactical acumen of a before-he-went-wacko Bobby Fisher to draw up a successful defensive game plan against the Bearcats.
At the beginning of the year I said publicly that a realistic goal for this year's team was to make it to the Big East Tournament. The Bearcats accomplished that with ease and have given themselves a puncher's chance of making a run at Madison Square Garden. Who knows, they've surprised us before. Maybe Deonta will be this year's version of Gerry McNamara.
More importantly, the Bearcats won't be undermanned much longer. Next year's team will feature a likely all-league guard in Vaughn, six sophomores with a year of Big East experience and Dave Andrews strength training under their belts, a former McDonald's All-American in Mike Williams, a transfer who averaged more than 18 points a game as a college freshman in Nick Aldridge, a genetic freak who doesn't miss layups in Yancy Gates, and perhaps the fastest recruit in the country in Cashmere Wright. Plus, additional highly-rated recruits who can't be mentioned on this website until they've signed letters of intent.
Anyone who doesn't think that Mick has done a remarkable job of rebuilding the program in his short tenure is either a Xavier fan or knows little about college basketball.
This year, the Bearcats briefly allowed us to dream. Next year, the nightmares begin for the opposition.
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Enjoy this week's photo of the handsome lad who, unlike his dad, needs regular haircuts.