Men's Basketball Set to Host Peggy Cronin Classic


Men's Basketball |

Nov. 8, 2007

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   The University of Cincinnati men's basketball team opens up its 107th season hosting the inaugural Peggy Cronin Classic on Friday-Sunday, Nov. 9-11 at Fifth Third Arena. The Bearcats will take on Belmont Friday at 8 p.m., Western Carolina Saturday at 7 p.m. and Bowling Green Sunday at 8 p.m. A portion of the proceeds for the event will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the name of UC head coach Mick Cronin's mother that passed away in 2005 from myeloma.


   The Bearcats are in search of their 43rd straight home-opening win and their 26th season-opening win in the last 27 years.


   The Bearcats come into the season opener vs. Belmont on Friday after knocking off Northern Kentucky, 76-71, and Bellarmine, 77-58 in preseason exhibitions.

ABOUT THE PEGGY CRONIN CLASSIC:  The Peggy Cronin Classic is a three-day exempted tournament named for Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin's mother who passed away in 2005 from a form of cancer called multiple myeloma, which starts in the bone marrow and eventually attacks the plasma in the blood stream. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Cincinnati in Mrs. Cronin's name. A check presentation will take place 20 minutes prior to the start of UC's game on Friday.

            The event will be played in a round-robin format and games are slated for

5 and 8 p.m. on Friday and Sunday and 4 and 7 p.m. on Saturday.  Cincinnati will play the second contest each day.  Following Friday's game vs. Belmont, UC will play Western Carolina on Saturday and Bowling Green on Sunday.


107TH CAMPAIGN:  The 2007-08 season will be Cincinnati's 107th year of basketball competition.  The school has compiled a 1,531-887 record for a .633 percentage.


OPENING THE NIGHT: Opening nights have been great for the Bearcats. UC is 87-19 all-time in season openers and has won 26 of its last 27. From when the streak started in 1980-81 until now, the only blemish was a 69-62 loss at then-No. 18 Oklahoma State in 2001-02.


HOME SWEET HOME: The Bearcats are unbeaten in their last 42 home openers dating back to a 65-55 loss to Miami (OH) in 1964-65 and own a record of 86-19 all-time. As a note, the reason the all-time record does not equal the 106 seasons of UC basketball is because in 1906-07 Cincinnati played just three games and all were on the road at Ohio State, at Miami (OH) and at Dayton.


TALKING ABOUT THE BEARCATS: The 2007-08 Bearcats return six letterwinners and four starters from last season's squad that finished 11-19 overall and 2-14 in the BIG EAST Conference. Sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn (14.5 ppg) and senior forward John Williamson (13.5 ppg) were both double-digit scorers, while Vaughn also led the team in assists (106) and Williamson was the team's top rebounder (7.3 rpg). Seniors Marcus Sikes (9.5 ppg) and Marvin Gentry (7.4 ppg) round out the returning starters. Eight new faces join the squad this year, including six incoming freshmen. Senior  Adam Hrycaniuk, a 6-10 center who sat our last season, will give the Bearcats some much needed size up front, while 6-11 freshman center Anthony McClain makes the adjustment to the college game. Freshman forward Alvin Mitchell is expected to make an immediate impact.


FOX 19 BEGINS TV COVERAGE:  The Peggy Cronin Classic marks the beginning of FOX19's (WXIX-TV) extensive coverage of Cincinnati Bearcats basketball.  FOX19 will originate 10 games and air two others from the BIG EAST Game of the Week syndicated package with ESPN Regional.  FOX19 has been the local television home of Bearcats basketball for 23 of the past 26 years. Jeff Piecoro (play-by-play) and Anthony Buford (color analyst) will be the primary talent for the package, while Jim Barbar will handle play-by-play on three broadcasts, including Saturday's tilt with Western Carolina.


BEARCATS UNBEATABLE IN FIFTH THIRD ARENA:  Cincinnati enters its 19th season in Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center with a 245-43 record, a .851 winning percentage.  UC is 80-20 in Fifth Third over the last six seasons.


EXHIBITION OPENER VS. NKU: In Cincinnati's exhibition opener, the Bearcats watched a pair of newcomers on the interior make significant contributions and a cool under pressure guard seal the game down the stretch, helping Mick Cronin's troops to a come-from-behind win over Northern Kentucky.  The 76-71 Bearcats victory featured offensive fireworks by both teams and wasn't decided until the final seconds. The Bearcats were able to overcome an astounding 16 three-pointers by Northern Kentucky and a 15-point first-half deficit by shooting 55 percent from the field and getting key free throws from Deonta Vaughn down the stretch. Vaughn, UC's top returning scorer, knocked down all six of his free throw attempts inside the last minute to preserve the UC win and he finished with 17 points. On the inside, Adam Hrycaniuk made his Bearcat debut a good one as he nailed all six of his field goal attempts, finishing with 15 points. Anthony McClain added 10 points off the bench as did fellow newcomer Rashad Bishop.


EXHIBITION NO. 2 VS. BELLARMINE: Cincinnati shrugged off a slow start to its exhibition finale, rallying from an early deficit to knock off Bellarmine by a score of 77-58. The triumph gave the Bearcats a 2-0 record in the preseason. The Bearcats used a diverse offensive attack that saw nine players contribute at least four points. For the second straight game, sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn led the way, scoring a game-high 16 points, including 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Vaughn's effort at the line was part of an outstanding performance from the charity stripe for UC, which knocked down 22-of-26. Freshman Alvin Mitchell came off the Cincinnati bench to contribute 14 points, including the first eight points of the second half, while Adam Hrycaniuk chipped in 10, along with a game-high 12 rebounds.


MR. CONSISTENT: As the 2007-08 season opens up, the Bearcats hope  John Williamson picks up right where he left off the end of last year. The 6-6 senior averaged 16.9 points over his last seven games, during which he shot .536 (45-of-84) from the field.   Williamson was Cincinnati's most consistent player throughout the year, reaching double figures in points in 23 of the team's 30 contests and ranking eighth in the BIG EAST Conference in overall rebounding with his 7.3 average. 


REPEAT PERFORMANCE: As a freshman last season, Deonta Vaughn had heavy expectations placed on him coming into a team with so many new faces and being the only freshman on the squad. Vaughn did not let the team down once he was inserted into the starting line-up in UC's fourth game of the year vs. Wofford. In his debut as a starter, Vaughn tallied a UC freshman single-game scoring record of 33 points vs. Wofford, connecting on nine 3-pointers, the second most by any Bearcat in UC history. Vaughn paced the Bearcats in scoring in 2006-07 with a 14.5-point average and ranked among the top freshmen scorers in the BIG EAST Conference throughout the season, finishing second to Eugene Harvey (16.5 points) of Seton Hall.


THE SIXTH MAN ... AND THEN SOME: Senior guard Marvin Gentry was Cincinnati's super sixth man most of last season before moving into the starting lineup for his final six games of the year. Gentry earned the playing time by picking up his game in BIG EAST play, averaging 9.6 points per game in conference play compared to his 7.4 points per game overall. Gentry was a key factor in UC's 96-83 home win over West Virginia last season on Jan. 20, scoring a career-high 32 points.  He knocked down

5-of-7 from 3-point range and sank nine of his dozen free throw attempts.


NEW SEASON, NEW ROLE: Senior Marcus Sikes, brought in as a perimeter player, was forced to see considerable action around the basket last season since he was the tallest Bearcat on last year's squad at 6-8. Despite the spot down low, Sikes, nonetheless recorded the second-most 3-point attempts among the Bearcats with 45 and led the team in 3-point field goal percentage (.425). With the team adding more height and depth to the front court, the coaching staff is hoping to let Sikes spend more time on the perimeter where his stature will give him an advantage.


WILKS CLEARED TO PLAY BY NCAA: Freshman forward Darnell Wilks was designated a full qualifier earlier this week (Nov. 7) by the NCAA Eligibility Center and is immediately available to play this weekend as the Bearcats open the regular season with the inaugural Peggy Cronin Classic. Wilks' addition comes as the Bearcats open up the regular season Friday vs. Belmont University at 8 p.m. in the Peggy Cronin Classic. Wilks, a native of Nashville, Tenn., was highly ranked by several of the national recruiting publications coming out of Pioneer Christian Academy. He averaged 17.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game as he helped Pioneer to a conference championship last season.


WILLIAMS TO MISS SEASON WITH RUPTURED ACHILLES: Junior forward Mike Williams, who was preparing for his first season on the court for the University of Cincinnati, will miss the 2007-08 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in preseason workouts. Williams, a 6-7, 230-pound native of Camden, Ala., sat out last season at UC after transferring from the University of Texas and was expected to start this season for Cincinnati. As a Longhorn, Williams played in 58 games over two years, averaging 2.7 points and 3.4 rebounds.


WARREN OUT FOR THREE WEEKS: Senior guard Jamual Warren is out three weeks after suffering a left hand injury last Sunday in an automobile accident. Warren, who was expected to provide relief for Deonta Vaughn at the point position, is a key two-way player for Cincinnati, providing offense as well as being one of the Bearcats defenders. Last year Warren tied for the team lead with 55 steals last year.


SUCCESS IN OVERTIME: Cincinnati posted a 2-0 mark in overtime games during the 2006-07 campaign.  On Jan. 20, UC and West Virginia were deadlocked at 75-75 before the Bearcats went on a 21-8 run in the extra frame to claim a 96-83 win.  Eleven games later, UC out scored Seton Hall, 11-8, after being tied at 59 a piece en route to a 70-67 triumph.


IT'S ACADEMIC: Last year, senior Marcus Sikes and junior Branden Miller qualified for the Dean's list academic honors after Fall quarter for having grade point averages of 3.5 or above.  Two others, John Williamson and Mike Williams, posted GPAs of 3.0 or above.  The team's GPA for the quarter was 2.875, a shade lower than the 2.965 of the UC general student body.


LOOKING AHEAD:  Following the Peggy Cronin Classic, the Bearcats have five days off to recover from three games in three days before hosting Coastal Carolina on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FOX 19 (WXIX-TV). It will be just the third meeting between the two schools and the first since 1989-90 when Coastal Carolina knocked off the Bearcats, 73-72, in Fifth Third Arena.




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