Men's Basketball |
Oct. 28, 2007
Head coach Mick Cronin had one of the busiest first years a new head coach could imagine after starting in March, 2006. In just his first month alone Cronin hired a staff and brought in seven new faces to the program. With hard work and dedication, the team navigated through an up and down season highlighted by victories over North Carolina State from the ACC, local rival Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout, and BIG EAST Conference foe West Virginia, the 2007 NIT Champion.
Those seven new faces recruited by Coach Cronin made an immediate impact, accounting for 77 percent of the minutes played and 84 percent of the scoring during the 2006-07 season.
In Year Two with Cronin, the Bearcats, despite having eight new faces playing their first games at UC this season, will begin to take on a decisively new personality and the persona of their coach. More athleticism and more size on the court will lead to more pressure defense and the ability to spread the floor.
Sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn will trigger a great deal of the new look Bearcats. He was a game-changing addition last year as a freshman. After posting a UC freshman record 33 points early in the year vs. Wofford, Vaughn concluded his rookie season as the second-highest scoring freshman in Cincinnati history, trailing only Dontonio Wingfield's 16.0 ppg in 1993-94.
Vaughn found himself in the starting lineup for 27 games and was the second-leading scorer among BIG EAST freshmen. He finished with 14.5 points per contest. Vaughn twice recorded a career-high eight rebounds and was the Bearcats' assists leader (3.5 per game).
Veteran guard Jamual Warren, who will be a senior this season, added a defensive presence on the court, recording a steal in all but five games and multiple steals in 17 contests. The always daring defender added 8.0 points per contest.
Cincinnati's sixth man most of last season, Marvin Gentry
moved into the starting lineup for the final six games after showing the coaches a glimpse of his potential. In the Bearcats 17-point come-from-behind win over West Virginia, the 6-3 wing hit on 9-of-14 shooting and poured in a career-high 32 points. Gentry went on to average 9.6 points per BIG EAST contest.
Junior Branden Miller, who made the Bearcats as a walk-on two years ago, will bring physical strength to the wing and provide the Bearcats with additional depth as UC looks to run the ball up and down the court.
Marcus Sikes, who at 6-8 was the tallest Bearcat regular, made the second-most 3-pointers among the Bearcats (45) and paced the team in field-goal percentage (.425) behind the arc. He finished third on the team in scoring, averaging just below 10 points per game and was one of three Bearcats to average five or more rebounds.
John Williamson, a junior college transfer playing his first season at Cincinnati last year, finished fourth in the BIG EAST in offensive rebounds (3.4) and 11th in total rebounds (7.3). The squad's most consistent scorer, Williamson scored in double figures 23 times and finished the season with a streak of nine consecutive double-digit scoring games.
After transferring a year ago, Adam Hrycaniuk is ready for action and will give the Bearcats more depth and punch in the front court. A native of Poland, Hrycaniuk averaged 11.8 points and 7.2 rebounds on his way to all-region honors at Trinity Valley Community College in 2005-06.
The Bearcats will be without a fellow transfer from the University of Texas, Mike Williams. A former McDonald's All-American, Williams will miss the 2007-08 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in preseason workouts.
The Bearcats' list of newcomers adds much needed depth and plenty of promise as well as the speed and athleticism Coach Cronin is looking to find.
Forward Kenny Belton from Salem, Va., is a big body that boasts a reputation for hustle. Belton likes to rebound and play physical under the basket, attributes every team needs. With his abilities and desire, Belton has the skill set to become a major contributor.
Versatile enough to shoot the ball from the outside, but tough enough to take it to the basket, Rashad Bishop gives the Bearcats another perimeter player who is solid on the offensive end of the court and defends the basket.
A 6-3 guard, Larry Davis brings an outstanding shooting touch to the Bearcats' lineup. Davis, who overcame an injury sustained during his final prep campaign, is ready for the upcoming season and as he makes the adjustment to the college game, he will add to the list of scorers on the team.
Anthony McClain will be a presence in the lane, something the Bearcats missed last season. At 6-11, McClain averaged 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots per game playing at the National Christian Academy in his final season as a prep.
A 6-5 wing, Alvin Mitchell's accomplishments earned him Florida's 2007 Class 4A Player of the Year honor, first-team all-state and first-team all-Broward County accolades. Big and strong with an explosive first step, Mitchell should be able to step in early in his first campaign and contribute both offensively and defensively for UC.
Darnell Wilks was a late signee for the class of 2007-08 and is one of the youngest players on the team. Being young however does not mean anything as the 6-8 forward, from Nashville, is one of the most athletic players on the team and should make a smooth transition to the college game. Wilks is a player with the ability to connect from the perimeter but also has the size to battle for inside position.
As the 2007-08 Bearcats work hard, find team chemistry and grow their understanding of Coach Cronin's up-tempo offense and attacking defense, the young squad with a veteran toughness will improve with each game and climb UC back to the top of the college basketball landscape.