Stuck in the middle with you

GOBEARCATSDOTCOM
GOBEARCATSDOTCOM

GOBEARCATSDOTCOM

March 3, 2009

(11:10 a.m.): The exhilarating win vs. West Virginia followed abruptly by the dastardly defeat at Syracuse sums up this point perfectly: the Bearcats are an improved team, no doubt about it, but they're not very close to where they need - and want - to be.

They've moved from playing as one of the worst teams in the Big East to the center of the dial. Not too bad, not too great. But a whole lot better than terrible.

There's honor in that. Remember, when coach Mick Cronin arrived at UC in 2006, he found a bare cupboard (how quickly we forget Cedric McGowan and Ron Allen), a bunch of picked-over junior college players and a fiery freshman in Deonta Vaughn. Two seasons later, that first undermanned team (that did well to win just two Big East games) is a distant memory.

Not that we've forgotten about the wretchedness of watching that squad slog its way through the season. But with the way Cronin and Vaughn and a host of underclassmen have lifted the program to the middle of the conference, it makes one think about how quickly this problem could have been lost.

South Florida was bad two seasons ago. The Bulls are still bad.

Rutgers was bad two seasons ago. The Scarlet Knights are still bad.

DePaul was bad two seasons ago. The Blue Demons are even worse today.

UC was bad two seasons ago. The Bearcats are better now.

That's progress, that's putting the program in a better position in which you found it. But still, it's not good enough for Cronin and his Bearcats. They're mediocre in this conference, light years better than they were in 2006-07, but still, they want more.

"We've made tremendous strides in building our program from nothing," Cronin said. "Zero personnel. It's a lot easier to go from last to sixth than it is from sixth to first. The hardest part of building our program is still ahead of us. The (top teams) are a lot harder to jump over there than others, because they're totally committed to what they do and they give unbelievable effort at all times. That's what we face. That's the hardest part of the climb we still aspire to make. We have to finish it off, but we're going to have to get a lot tougher to do it."


 

 

Cronin illustrates that point to his team on the whiteboard. That's where he'll draw a pyramid. Most of the teams reside at the bottom and at the middle, he explains to his team. It's comfortable and roomy down there with plenty of space for everybody. The apex, though, is where life gets crowded, where you have to fight for your area, where you have to want to stay so very badly.

Right now, the Bearcats are stuck in the middle of that pyramid. They want to reach the top. It probably won't happen this year; it's probably too soon. But Cronin wants UC to get a feeling for what climbing to and staying at the top will require.

"You definitely have to learn that," sophomore guard Alvin Mitchell said. "It's not always about talent. There are some things you have to adjust to. There are certain things you have to do right on the court every night to win, because you're not always going to make shots."

Vaughn, though, must play a big part in getting his team to understand.

"We've made a long climb," Cronin said. "Deonta has been a part of the whole thing, but the message to our leadership - him being the main guy - is that it's going to take even more effort than we've given. As hard as he's played, as much as he's giving to get to where we are right now - and much of it is because of what he's done in the last three years, how hard it's been on him - he can't rest or we're not going to continue to climb."

The problem is that even Vaughn can't be sure how hard the team will have to work in order to break into the top floor of that pyramid of winning. He has no prior example from which he can learn. That, Cronin said, is the challenge of starting a program from scratch.

Clearly, UC, which followed the emotional win against West Virginia with one of its worst performances of the Cronin era against Syracuse, still has far to go. But the Bearcats have risen out of the cellar and into the middle of the conference. For right now, that's not a terrible place to be.

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Gunner Kiel impresses at UC football's spring game

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Youthful UC can make its own history next season

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC's defense makes statement in latest scrimmage

    FanIQ.com

    Remember Gunner Kiel? He's Ready to Dominate

    SportsIllustrated.com

    Hank Hughes Q&A

    New York Times

    Growing as a Player, Beaming as a Father

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    NCAA Tournament is 'Cincinnati vs. the world'

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Kiel comes out strong in Bearcats' spring scrimmage

    Sporting News

    2013-14 Men's Basketball All-Americans

    Fox Sports

    Cincinnati made me a believer

    CBS Sports.com

    Former redshirt Sean Kilpatrick finishing out historic career

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Q&A with UC AD Mike Bohn

    ESPN

    Brennan's Wooden Watch: Week 14

    MLSSoccer.com

    Fit and healthy, Omar Cummings offering a new dynamic up top for Houston Dynamo

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Men's soccer signee Clark named Gatorade Ohio player of the year

    ESPN

    Munchie Legaux and Shaq Washington gain extra year

    Denver Post

    Mike Bohn eager to point Cincinnati Bearcats in right direction as AD

    The Washington Post

    No. 7 Bearcats have highest ranking in 10 years

    Yahoo! Sports

    How Sean Kilpatrick willed UC past Louisville and back into the nation's consciousness

    SI.com

    Cincinnati takes over AAC with win at Louisville

    ESPN.com

    Tough Bearcats don't get rattled

    ESPN.com

    UC staves off Temple to stay perfect in AAC

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC looks to 15-year sports admin vet Reed-Francois for interim AD

    CBS Sports

    No. 15 Cincinnati stomps UCF, wins 11th straight

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats take down USF 61-54, win 10th straight

    USA Today

    Why Cincinnati is not a team to sleep on

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Short-handed Bearcats cautious about ranking

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC's goal: win them all at home

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Cronin: Not easy, but Cats got through fatigue

    The News Record

    What you missed in UC sports during break

    FB Schedules

    Boise State, Cincinnati Schedules 2019, 20 Home-and-Home Series

    Forbes

    The Best and Worst College Football Teams for the Money

    USA Today

    Report: Colleges doing poorly at hiring women coaches

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Randolph named AAC Player of the Week

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC women's basketball knocks off Ohio State

    Bleacher Report

    Belk Bowl 2013: Cincinnati-North Carolina

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Belk Bowl: UC vs. UNC

    ESPN

    Belk Bowl Breakdown

    BelkBowl.com

    The Showdown is Set

    ESPN

    Cards, Bearcats set for defensive battle

    CBS Sports

    Louisville-Cincinnati Preview

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Thursday is UC's fight for perception

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Don't let UC's next opponent fool you

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC jumps to No. 23 in USA Today football poll

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats break into USA Today Top 25

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    McKay turns in monster game against Rutgers

    ESPN

    Kay throws for 408 yards, 4 TDs as Cincinnati routs Rutgers

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats won't lessen the pressure

    News & Record

    Pressure takes toll on NC State against Cincinnati

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats face variety of bowl scenarios

    The News Record

    UC weary of SMU's aerial attack ahead of AAC clash

    Bleacher Report

    Best College Football Moments in Cincinnati History

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Mark Barr returns to UC, gets ovation

    HoustonDynamo.com

    After frustrating year, Omar Cummings puts Houston Dynamo on his back with clutch playoff goal

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC's Shaq Thomas 'our version of Herb Jones'

    USA Today

    Cincinnati holds off Memphis for third straight

    ESPN

    Cincinnati's Mark Barr out of hospital

    TopDrawer Soccer

    Furman and Cincinnati men go nose-for-nose in College Goal of the Week

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Green seizing his moment for the Bearcats

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats' Jermaine Lawrence is new breed of forward

    UC Magazine

    Hostility to Hope: Feature on Men's Soccer Player John Manga

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats' Jermiah Davis III fights to be remembered

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats' Justin Jackson goes from energizer to example

    The News Record

    Cronin excited for new group

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    UC Bearcats' Sean Kilpatrick: 'It's the season now'

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats basketball will have fresh look

    The News Record

    UC Looks to RetainVictory Bell for Eighth Consecutive Season

    Miami Herald

    Kay Ready to Lead Bearcats into Rivalry Game

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Former Bearcat Thompkins making most of shot in NFL

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    New practice setup could benefit UC basketball

    ESPN.com

    Munchie Legaux out for season

    ESPN.com

    Cincinnati Rolls Past Purdue

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Bearcats defense puts up dominant effort

    American Athletic Conference

    2013 Team Previews: Cincinnati Bearcats

    Sports Illustrated

    Bowl projections: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl

    Cincinnati Business Courier

    Bearcats sell out football opener against Purdue

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    Depth at defensive line still strong for Bearcats

    Bleacher Report

    Cincinnati Bearcats Football 2013 Team Preview

    UC Voted 2nd

    Coach Tuberville and his players discuss their reactions to being voted to finish 2nd in the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference

    QB Timetable

    Coach Tuberville discusses his timetable to choose a starting QB with The Cincinnati Enquirer

    Thompkins at Patriots' Training Camp

    Former UC wide receiver, Kenbrell Thompkins, impressed many at Patriots' training camp 

    World University Games

    Sean Kilpatrick talks about his experience overseas

    World University Games

    Sean Kilpatrick talks about his experience overseas 

    Nippert Renovation Plan

    The Cincinnati Enquirer looks at the Nippert Stadium Project

    Cincinnati football's 'Crocodile Dundee'

    A former professional rugby player from Australia joins the Bearcat football team

    2013 Preseason 'Watch List' 

    Several Cincinnati Bearcats make 2013 national 'watch list'

    Sports Insider Today

    Young Cincinnati Team Looks to Improve in 2013 Amidst New Conference Setting

    ESPN Blog

    Cincinnati to play Pitt in December

    GoBEARCATS.com

    Former Bearcat Herman Qualifies for U.S. Open

    USA Today

    BearcatsTV Gets National Attention from USA Today's For the Win

    SportingNews.com

    Cincinnati Bearcats Baseball Earns Top Honors in Videobombing

    The Washington Post

    Cincinnati Bearcats Do the Best Postgame Interviews

    Fox Sports

    Bearcats Rock Postgame Interviews

    Philly.com

    Cincinnati Bearcats Revolutionize the Post Game Interview

    YardBarker

    You'll love this Cincinnati Bearcats Post Game Funny Business Compilation

    Philly.com

    Those guys having all the fun: An oral history of the Cincinnati baseball team's videobombs

    MSN Now

    This college baseball team wins the 'best interview' award

    ESPN.com

    Winn, Cincinnati run over Pittsburgh

    Cincinnati.com Bearcats Blog

    Cincinnati looks to sophomore RB Ralph Abernathy to increase production