2007-08 Cincinnati Men's Basketball|
March 13, 2008
COACH CRONIN: Well, we've played Pitt three times. Three extremely physical battles, hard-fought games. We were on the short end of the stick tonight. Our guys fought, they competed, they never gave up, so I'm extremely proud of their effort. Didn't catch a lot of breaks in the game. So that was unfortunate. And Marvin Gentry's injury, it really left us shorthanded on the perimeter. I thought our guys got a little bit tired and that affected our defense.
But you've got to give Pitt credit. They're a great team. They've been to six of the last seven Big East finals, conference tournament finals. That speaks to what kind of program Jamie's helped build and continued over a long period of time. He's a great coach, and they have a great program. You have to give them a tremendous amount of credit. We don't have a guy that's ever been in Madison Square Garden, let alone play in a Big East Tournament game. So I'm proud we're back here. Proud of the effort we put forth tonight. Time to go back and get ready to fight hard to get back here next year.
Q. Could you just talk about Rashad Bishop's performance tonight, this season, and what you expect from him next year.
COACH CRONIN: I thought he played harder tonight than he's played in a long time. The biggest challenge for Rashad is to play as hard as you need to play at this level. That is a challenge for most freshmen, to be consistent with your effort. I thought he was more physical tonight than he had been. He's capable of being a 6, 7, 8-rebound-a-game guy at the small forward, which is what I'm looking for. I was really proud of the way he competed physically tonight. If he plays like that, he's going to be a great player for us. It's all about consistent effort for him.
Q. Could you just talk about Deonta's effort tonight and the scoring burden you have to put on him.
COACH CRONIN: I've been asking him to do too much since I signed him. But I guess if you're going to ask a guy do too much, he'd rather ask me to have him score than play too much defense.
It's been a tough road for him and for all our guys. And the rebuilding of our program, there is a lot of excitement around our program with knowing that we're going to add Mike Williams this year. I think it was a shell shock to us early, his injury. And it shifted the majority of the scoring burden right back on to Deonta's shoulders. But he stepped to the plate. Guy's got 30 points, six assists, played 39 minutes. I don't know what else I can ask him to do except drive the bus, and I've seen him drive, so I'm not going to ask him to do that.
Q. Jamie Dixon said that his team's playing the best basketball right now that they've played all season. How would you compare how they played today versus the other two times?
COACH CRONIN: I think Levance looks better. He looks healthier. Tyrell Biggs is making shots from the perimeter. So when they sub him in there, they don't lose a lot. I think that's probably the best he's been playing. Levance looks better. It's all about personnel. They've got guys playing a little bit better than they have played. Obviously, Sam Young is a tremendous player. I don't know how he wasn't a unanimous All Big East player. I'd like to know who didn't vote for him. The guy's done an unbelievable job improving his game. You've got to give Jamie a lot of credit for that.
But they've shown tremendous perseverance as a group after all they've been through. It's a credit to their coach and to their kids.
Q. How did you think you got your spot after what happened Sunday night?
COACH CRONIN: Regular season was over. We fought hard to get to the Big East Tournament. That's the bottom line. We went 8-10 in this league with absolutely nobody that had been recruited for more than two or three months. These guys banded together and they got us here. That's all we were focused on. So now that we're here, we wanted to make sure we showed what Cincinnati basketball was all about, fight hard, compete, never give up. Anybody who is in the arena tonight saw that. And I'm proud of them.
Q. Deonta, maybe you had no choice now that coach put this burden on you, but you are you the kind of guy that really wants that responsibility?
Deonta Vaughn: You know, it's been a lot on my shoulders my whole life growing up playing. Being the go-to guy for every school I went to and played with. And I was the go-to guy last year. There was a lot on my shoulders. Like he said, with the injury of Mike Williams it put a lot back on my shoulders. And with John Williamson getting in early foul trouble, he couldn't be too effective like he was last game. I had to take advantage of my opportunity and try to make things happen. I try to do a lot for the team this year, previous to this game to help my seniors out so they can continue their college career. We just came up short. I just gave a lot of effort and hope my team loved my effort tonight and everybody else.
Q. You guys held DeJuan Blair to one field goal attempt, all numbers way below his average. What are you doing to throw him off?
COACH CRONIN: He only played 24 minutes and we pretty much trapped him, double-teamed him every time he got the ball. So we didn't feel we could play him one-on-one. The first time we played him, the traps worked. We did a bad job trapping him in the second game. Also, he had six offensive rebounds in the second game at Pitt. Really, it won the game. If we could have blocked him out at Pitt, we would have won. We couldn't keep him off the glass.
So he's a freshman, having seen him and having seen the smile on his face, I don't expect he'll get too down. I think everybody in our league would love to have him on their team. I think you'll see a different effort from him. But we trapped him.