Heard it From Hoard: Column 71
On Monday night (Jan 26th), I'm hosting the Mick Cronin radio show at the Original Montgomery Inn.
How about joining me?
Due to my travel schedule, I haven't been able to do the show very often this year since it moved to Monday nights. I've missed seeing familiar friendly faces, the banter with Mick and Chuck, the ribs, and yes, even Two-Bell Bob.
Perhaps due to your busy schedule, the state of the economy, or frustration with the team while it goes through growing pains, you haven't been to the show in awhile either.
Let's plan a reunion for Monday night. We'll share some great memories, discuss this year's team, and look ahead to what I believe is a very promising future.
We'll also have some random giveaways including autographed merchandise from Mick Cronin and Brian Kelly and a poster signed by the entire team. We'll even fork over a one-of-a-kind item: a rare photo of Chuck getting tossed from the NCAA tourney signed by both me and my partner.
The radio show runs from 8 to 9 and after that, Chuck and I will talk hoops, tell stories, and have some laughs with anyone that wants to stick around. Come for dinner, come for beverages, or just come for the conversation - let's share our love of Bearcat basketball on Monday night.
One thing's for certain in the BIG EAST. Sooner or later you will face a brutal stretch of games and the Bearcats will begin such a gauntlet next Wednesday when eight of their next nine games will be against teams that have been in the Top 25 this season. That includes home games against Georgetown, Notre Dame, Louisville, and West Virginia.
Last year the 'Cats pulled off home shockers against Syracuse, Villanova, and Pitt. It will be fun to see what scalps they can claim this year.
One of the keys to UC winning three of its last four conference games has been the emergence of Mike Williams. The senior forward has scored at least 20 points in three of his last six games and is averaging 13.9 points in BIG EAST play.
"It's good that Mike's finding a rhythm and getting his confidence going," Coach Cronin told me this week. "His teammates have figured out how to get him the ball and he knows what we expect of him. We expect him to be aggressive and that's the key."
On Thursday's pregame show, I asked if Williams still plans to seek a sixth year of eligibility after the season.
"Absolutely," Cronin said. "It can't be done until the season is over and we have to apply for the extra year because an injury caused him to lose a season. We'll have to make sure we present our case and hope for the best."
Even if Williams does not get an extra year, the Bearcat roster will get a major boost next season with the return of a healthy Cashmere Wright, and the additions of 6'11" Oklahoma State transfer Ibrahima Thomas, and 6'4" slashing guard Sean Kilpatrick.
Last weekend I got my first look at Kilpatrick in action as Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, MA) played in a showcase event in Boston.
Unfortunately, my timing wasn't very good. The night before, Kilpatrick scored 28 points in a win in New York City, but his entire team appeared sluggish the following afternoon in a loss to Bridgton Academy.
"You didn't see much of a performance today, but his basketball ability is not a concern," Notre Dame Prep head coach Ryan Hurd told me. "The kid performs. We've played 19 games now and this is maybe the second time he didn't play well. I have no doubt that he's going to go to Cincinnati next year and put up really solid numbers."
When I caught up with Sean after the game he was wearing a Cincinnati Reds hat, and he claims to wear Cincinnati-related gear almost every day. He told me he's in contact with future teammates like Yancy Gates and Cashmere Wright every few days, and plans to arrive in Cincinnati in late June for summer courses.
His roommate at Notre Dame Prep is Syracuse recruit James Southerland and the point guard on his team is Providence signee Johnnie Lacy. Having such high-profile players presents challenges for Coach Hurd.
"The thing about this level of basketball is that you get a lot of people who want to be around you," Hurd said. "They want to know a BIG EAST kid; they want the tickets when you come to Madison Square Garden. You need to track down the people in your life that have no expectations and Sean's done a really solid job of getting the other people out of his life. He needs to keep that rolling. His work ethic is good, but he needs to understand it's not just time in the gym - it's what you're doing with your time in the gym. He's willing to put the work in and he's open to listening."
I'd love to hear from you (and see you on Monday night)! The address is email@example.com.
Enjoy this week's photo of the handsome lad.