"Cats" Ready to Rumble in Cincinnati|
Jan. 11, 2008
The Cincinnati Bearcats (7-8, 2-1 BIG EAST), winners of three of their last five and who are 2-1 in BIG EAST Conference play, entertain No. 17/No. 19 Villanova (11-2, 1-1 BIG EAST) on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. in Fifth Third Arena. The contest will be broadcast by ESPNU. Both teams come into the weekend, having won its last conference game as UC knocked off Syracuse Wednesday night, 74-66, while Villanova, who last played six days ago on Jan. 6, downed then-No. 13
REBOUNDING IN EVERY SENSE: After being out rebounded by Louisville and St. John's to open BIG EAST play, Cincinnati dominated the boards vs. Syracuse, posting a 39-32 advantage in the Bearcats' 74-66 win on Wednesday. UC built up most of its advantage during the final eight minutes of the first half, when it went on a 28-7 run and took a 35-23 lead into the intermission. From the 7:54 mark of the first half until 0:06,
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Villanova comes into Fifth Third Arena winner of seven of its last eight games, including a 64-63 win over No. 13 Pittsburgh its last time out on Jan. 6. The well-rested Wildcats are averaging 78.9 points per game offensively, ranking them seventh overall in the BIG EAST. They are led by four players averaging double-digits and four more scoring six points or more. Sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds leads the way, putting in 15.5 points per game, followed by freshman standout Corey Fisher (12.3 ppg), junior Shane Clark (11.2), and junior Dante Cunningham (11.0). The Wildcats are the BIG EAST's sixth-best 3-point shooting teams, converting .366 (101-of-276). Freshman guard Malcolm Grant, who is the team's top 3-point marksman, has come off the bench and knocked down 23-of-42 treys (.462) and averages 8.4 points. Defensively, Villanova has held its opponents to 69.1 points per game and has given up 70 points or more only four times.
RANKED OPPONENTS: The Bearcats are 0-2 vs. ranked opponents this season.
BIG TIME PLAY IN THE BIG EAST: After a record of 5-7 in non-conference play, head coach Mick Cronin needed the leaders on the team to step up and show the way as the Bearcats headed into BIG EAST Conference play. Sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn and senior forward John Williamson have picked up the pace offensively. Vaughn, who averaged 15.5 points per game during the non-conference schedule, has posted 22.0 points per night in the league, while Williamson has improved his scoring average from 10.5 in non-conference play to 11.7 in the BIG EAST. On the defensive side of the ball, freshman center Anthony McClain has given UC a new presence on the inside, pulling down a team-high 5.7 boards a game.
HELP OFF THE BENCH: For Cincinnati, team depth has provided Coach Cronin with a great deal of options as he has fine tuned a rotation of players that goes nine deep, playing 100 minutes or more. That depth played a big part in UC's 74-66 win over
FINDING CONSISTENCY: One thing that every young team has to develop as they mature is consistency and the Cincinnati Bearcats are no different. When you compare
DEFENDING THE LINE: In UC's last four games, it has either defended the 3-pointer well or not. One key to the Bearcats' last three wins has been their 3-point shooting defense that held Miami (OH), Louisville, and Syracuse to a combined 9-of-50 (.180) from behind the arc. The RedHawks' 2-of-12 (.167) and the Cardinals' 2-of-23 (.130) are the two lowest 3-point shooting percentages allowed in Mick Cronin's tenure. In the Bearcats loss,
HOLDING ON WITH A FIRM GRIP: In just over a season and a half, one characteristic of a Mick Cronin team has been its ability to hold on to leads late. When the Bearcats lead with five minutes remaining in the game, they are undefeated at 6-0 this season and are 15-3 in Cronin's time at
TAKING OVER AT THE END: Since sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn joined the team last season, he has been given the ball and asked to take on the added pressure of being the go-to player down the stretch. Vaughn has responded to the challenge, especially this season, as he has averaged 6.9 points during the final 10 minutes of games. What is even more impressive are his shooting percentages in the final 10 minutes as he is converting .561 (32-of-57) from the field and .536 (15-of-28) from behind the 3-point arc.
IN THE LAST FIVE GAMES: Senior guard Deonta Vaughn has scored in double figures five times and leads the team with 20.4 points per game ... Vaughn is one of four players averaging five or more points per game ... UC is shooting 43.1 percent from the field (113-of-262), including 34.7 percent (33-of-95) from behind the 3-point line ... Vaughn has knocked down 15 treys and is shooting 41.7 percent from behind the line ... as a team, UC is shooting .744 from the free-throw line, led by Vaughn at .840 (21-of-25) ... point guard Jamual Warren leads the team with 23 assists (4.6 per game).
THE BIG MAN, A BIG HELP OFF THE BENCH: Freshman center Anthony "Biggie" McClain has started to live up to his nickname, providing the Bearcats a major spark off the bench with a combined 21 points, 24 rebounds, and eight blocked shots in the last four games. McClain, who was averaging just 7.1 minutes per contest in the first 11 games, has earned the extra playing time by working on his defensive rebounding. After pulling down 12 defensive rebounds in his first 10 games, McClain has 15 defensive boards in his last four outings.
TAKING THE POINT: Senior guard Jamual Warren has played key roles for the Bearcats in their last three wins. In the win over Miami (OH), he personally led an 8-0 run of his own with a jumper and back-to-back treys to break a 38-38 tie. Warren, a career 13.6 percent (9-of-66) 3-point shooter heading into the Miami game, knocked down 2-of-3 from behind the arc vs. the RedHawks and went on to score 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting -- one short of his career high of 16 points vs. West Virginia last season. He also added six rebounds, three assists, and a steal vs. MU. At
DEFENSIVE ASSISTANCE: The return of Jamual Warren to the line-up at UAB, after his hand injury, has paid dividends for UC defensively as he has already tallied 14 steals in nine games. Last season,
A DIFFERENCE A MONTH MAKES: When the calendar flipped to 2008, the Bearcats were happy to turn the page on a difficult month. After going 4-2 in the month of November,
BEHIND THE LINE: The Bearcats are shooting .330 from behind the 3-point line this season, ranking them 14th in the BIG EAST. Sophomore Deonta Vaughn and senior Marvin Gentry are carrying the load for
BACK TO WORK: Senior guard Marvin Gentry, who was taken off the floor at the Xavier game on Dec. 12 after colliding with teammate Deonta Vaughn and suffering a head injury, missed the Memphis game but returned to the line-up at North Carolina State where he played 19 minutes and scored nine points. The team's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 7.9 points per game, Gentry has netted 60 of his 110 points this season from behind the 3-point line where he is converting 40.8 percent (20-of-49).
WILL-I-AM-SON: Senior forward John Williamson, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, has broken out of a slump in his last eight games, scoring 87 points (10.9 ppg) and pulling down 43 rebounds. In the four games prior to
EUROPEAN IMPACT: Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk (pronounced hu-RITZ-a-nyuk), a native of
BISHOP TAKES QUEEN (CITY): Freshman forward/guard Rashad Bishop has quickly become one of the Bearcats' top all-around newcomers. Appearing in all 15 games and starting eight for UC this season, Bishop has scored in double digits three times, including two games with a season-high 12 points (
30-MINUTE MAN ...: Through
WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST: Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk has been clutch for the Bearcats late in games, converting 9-of-10 free throws (.900) in the last three minutes of games determined by 10 points or less. As a team, the Bearcats are shooting .774 (41-of-53) from the line down the stretch of close games.
PHYSICALLY FIT: Over the last 15 years, UC basketball has the reputation of being one the most physically fit teams in the country and developing players for the next level. That comes from the players' hard work in the weight room and conditioning. This season, Adam Hrycaniuk, John Williamson and Branden Miller each can bench press over 300 pounds, led by Hrycaniuk at 315 pounds. Even the guards have impressive stats with Deonta Vaughn squatting 500 pounds and Marvin Gentry, who weighs 180 pounds, bench pressing a max of 260 pounds. Freshman forward Darnell Wilks and senior guard Jamual Warren are the team's high flyers with 40- and 36.5-inch vertical jumps, respectively.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Head coach Mick Cronin, in just his second year at
WILLIAMS TO MISS SEASON WITH RUPTURED ACHILLES: Junior forward Mike Williams, who was preparing for his first season on the court for the
THE INK IS DRY: The University of Cincinnati men's basketball team signed two players to national letters of intent for the 2008-09 season, head coach Mick Cronin announced on the first day of the early signing period. Joining the Bearcats are forward Yancy Gates (
Gates, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward, is one of the nation's top 50 players according to several recruiting sites. As a junior at
Wright, another highly-regarded recruit, who is ranked among many of the recruiting services top 100 players, comes to
BEARCATS ADD TRANSFER FOR 2008-09: The Bearcats added 6-7 wing Nick Aldridge, a transfer from
BEARCATS ON TV: This season, all 30 of
LOOKING AHEAD: Next on the BIG EAST schedule for