First Official Day of Practice for Men's Hoops
From top: Cheikh Mbodj, Jermaine Sanders and Shaquille Thomas

Oct. 12, 2012

CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati men's basketball team began its first official day of preseason practice Friday evening at Fifth Third Arena.

The 2012-13 Bearcats return three starters and 10 lettermen from last season's squad that advanced to the NCAA Championship Sweet 16 after appearing in the BIG EAST Championship title game. Three starters return from last season's 26-11 squad in guards Sean Kilpatrick, JaQuon Parker and Cashmere Wright.

Prior to the practice, those three players along with head coach Mick Cronin met with local media to discuss the upcoming campaign. Below is a sample of comments:

UC Player Quotes
No. 44 JaQuon Parker, G

On competing against Sean Kilpatrick in practice:
"That's what we are here for. Every day in practice I check him and he checks me. We make each other better and make each other work for everything we get. That's what we are going to continue to do."

On how long it took to get over the Ohio State game:
"Personally, I'm still not over it. In the second half we got the lead and I thought we could have won it. But in the end, we just ran out of gas. It's still messing with me from time to time"

No. 23 Sean Kilpatrick, G
On competing against JaQuon Parker in practice:
"Due to the fact that we are like the three amigos on this team and on top of that everyone in the BIG EAST is basically going to be aiming for us three, we've got to make each other better in that type of situation. So, we know what to expect when it's time for the BIG EAST season to come around."

On how long it took to get over the Ohio State game:
"It still plays in Coach Cronin's mind every day. When he brings it up that's when it plays in our head."

On stepping into a leadership role:
"We're going to continue to be us. We're going to continue keep leading this team and make a bigger impact than last year. We have three captains now and last year was only two. The team now has more of a (blueprint) on who to look up to."

On his early impression of 7-1 center David Nyarsuk:
"With him you've just got to expect blocked shots and dunks. It does (change things around the rim) due to the fact the he is (7-1). That is the craziest part. Cash has perfected the floater when it comes down to Dave. When Cash is on my team I'm happy because he can get in the lane and score."

No. 1 Cashmere Wright, G
On how long it took to get over the Ohio State game:
"I think about it all the time. It just shows us that we can still improve. We had a Sweet 16 game and we gave it back. It shows that we aren't where we are supposed to be yet. We still got improvement (to make) and we still can get better."

On if that motivate you this year:
 "It motivates me. To actually get to the Sweet 16 and taste what that feels like to be there to have the fans and get to play in the Boston Garden (was a big thing). This year for the Final Four to be in Atlanta for me is a big thing. I'd actually get to go home and actually try to win a national championship. I'll work hard for that. That would be the best ending to a career."

On stepping into a leadership role:
"It's about continuing the flow of being a leader (like last year), doing the right things on and off the court and showing the team that you are there for them and ready to play for them."

On Ge'Lawn Guyn and Jeremiah Davis III developing at the point guard position:
"That's a big thing, not only for after I leave;  it's (big) for when I'm here (now). It comes to a point where I can't play 35 to 40 minutes a game. So one of them or both of them have to play if we're going to try to get to where we want to go. There's no way I'm going to be able to play those minutes and we make it to the Final Four and then still have all the gas in the tank. We're going to need them and they are going to be a big help. I tell them all the time don't worry about nothing that is being said, just do what you have to do."

Head Coach Mick Cronin
On the new season:
"I've never been this excited about a team that I've ever coached just because I know the character of the guys in the locker room. Guys in our locker room what to win and really want to get better. I don't have to spend a lot time motivating, which is nice. I can just coach."

On moving to semesters this fall at UC:
"We're to the point now where most programs have their guys around during the summer. The difference is mandatory versus voluntary workouts, open gym versus real practice. You can actually get something done. (This summer) you are talking about going to the end of June with workouts and strength and conditioning. Then you're starting up with eight weeks in the summer and then starting early in August for the first time ever at the University of Cincinnati. You're talking for us gaining a minimum of 11 weeks of strength and conditioning and on the court work two hours a week."

On the leadership on the team:
"That's the key to winning (championships). You've got to have great leadership whether it was Darius Miller last year at Kentucky or Kemba Walker the year before at Connecticut. You're just not going to see teams advance far without great leadership that set a tone in the locker room. SK is more a vocal leader for us. JaQuon Parker leads by example. Cash gives us a lot of heart. We've got three guys there that give us a lot of leadership. Cheikh Mbodj has really emerged in our offseason. Our guys really believe in him. They see him healthy now. Senior class is really important not matter what sport you're in. Our three seniors are all great guys. SK is only a junior but he's been here four years."

"I've coached Jeremiah Davis and Ge'Lawn really hard this summer. I'm trying to pull them up to the level of the other guys and that's where I need the help of the Cashmere Wright. Getting those other guys up to his level so they are able to play major minutes when called upon when he has foul trouble or whatever the case may be in a big time game in a big time atmosphere. Dion Dixon was a security blanket for us at the point guard position."

On newcomer David Nyarsuk:
"If this team needed one thing that would sure us up as a team that has a chance to legitimately compete for the BIG EAST Championship it was a veteran big man and that's what David is. Obviously, he has to get acclimated to what we do and the way we do things. He's not a finished product by any means but he knows what he's doing. He's had a really good coach in Bob Bolen at Mountain State. They played for championships for a reason. He's got legitimate size and he's putting on strength daily. He's going to help us a lot. It's a luxury when you can throw it up to a guy and he's just going to dunk it every time around the rim. I'm excited to have him back there to be a rim protector with Cheikh (Mbodj) and Kelvin (Gaines) because it allows us to be more aggressive and extend our defense."

On Shaquille Thomas:
"Shaq Thomas has great offensive ability one-on-one because he can score over you or he can drive by you. He's got to learn how to play in the college game against college defense. That's going to take a little bit of time. And he's also got to learn how to play defense.  He's got a great attitude. He's really worked hard on his perimeter shooting. An advantage for him is that when he is on the floor he's going to be out there with good players so teams won't be able to focus on him. He's a guy with tremendous potential. The more he develops; he's a guy, hopefully, that in two years from now we're talking about as an All-BIG EAST player."         

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