Heard it From Hoard: Column 80
I know WHAT happened.
I know HOW it happened.
What I'm struggling with is WHY it happened?
I honestly have no explanation for why the Bearcats played so poorly in their last four games - especially with so much at stake.
Here's what I do know.
Mick will evaluate every aspect of his program to try to get better, and he'll start by critiquing himself.
I'd like to see some of the players devote as much time to self-improvement as Mick does.
The Bearcats desperately need a point guard (actually, two to have depth). Big East defenses are simply too tough to get all of your baskets in a half-court offense. Cincinnati forced 19 turnovers against DePaul and wound up with 7 fast break points. That's not going to cut it. They need to run when they have the opportunity next year and get some easy buckets. That means a point guard who can push the pace.
Deonta Vaughn needs to take charge. Deonta is a great leader by example - he's in exceptional shape and practices hard - but that's not enough. A coach can only provide so much leadership - a veteran player has to push and prod his teammates too.
Yancy Gates has to become a more physical player - especially on offense. After his sensational performance against West Virginia, Yancy was 15-for-47 (32%) in the final four games, and most of those shots were within a few feet of the hoop. He's too skilled and too strong to do that against lower-level Big East teams. Yancy had a good freshman year but will only be a star when he decides to play with more power and less finesse. He went to the foul line 2.5 times per game this year and there's no reason why he shouldn't double that next year.
Rashad Bishop needs to take 500 jump shots a day, working on his form and shooting with more arc. I'll take his defense and toughness, but a wing player who averages 26 minutes of playing time needs to score more than 5 points a game.
Larry Davis needs to improve as much next year as he did this year. From the practices I watched, only Vaughn competed harder on a daily basis.
Alvin Mitchell needs to be more consistent in every aspect of his behavior, so his coaches and teammates know they can depend on him.
Darnell Wilks needs to get stronger, tougher, and work on his ball-handling skills.
Biggie McClain made a significant contribution in more games as a freshman that he has as a sophomore and that's on him. He's not the most physically gifted player in the world, but there's no reason why he shouldn't be able to provide a few solid minutes per game. It's up to Biggie to prove he deserves more playing time.
Steve Toyloy needs to play to his strengths and become the best rebounder/defender he can possibly be. He's only been playing basketball for five years and should be very serviceable next season with a year of experience under his belt.
Dion Dixon needs to become a better 3-point shooter and a better ball-handler. He seems to have a good work ethic - let's see if he's significantly better as a sophomore.
That's all I've got for now. I've scored tickets to the Will Ferrell one-man Broadway show tonight (thanks Mike Waddell!). Ferrell's going to have to be really funny to put a smile back on my face.
I'd love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy this week's photo of the handsome lad.