Nov. 9, 2012
CINCINNATI - University of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin and guards Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick spoke with local media on Friday afternoon to discuss the Bearcats' season opener Sunday against Tennessee-Martin.
UC tips off its 112th season of varsity basketball Sunday against the Skyhawks beginning at 2 p.m. ET at Fifth Third Arena. The game will be televised by Fox Sports Ohio and can be heard on 55KRC. Tickets can be purchased by call 1-877-CATS-TIX.
Following are a sampling of comments from Friday's media event:
Head Coach Mick Cronin
On if he reminds the team about the last season's start:
"You always have to say something as the coach. If your team is going to have certain types of goals for the end of the season you have to realize seeding in the NCAA Tournament, not just getting there, is important. We felt the pain of that the last two years. We were playing really, really well in March but we didn't have a high seed, in part last year because of the two November losses."
On if he talks a lot about the Presbyterian loss last season in preparing for this season:
"No, I haven't mentioned anything. That's one good thing about these guys is their experiences. They do have goals for the season. They have big aspirations as a team. The fact that some things have happened to us like that is not good but it also puts the guys on notice where I don't have to sit there and say we're playing the Boston Celtics on Sunday."
On where the offense is compared to last year at this point:
"You talked about Presbyterian last year. We were up 15 early in that game. But we were a very thin group last year at this time with Cheikh (Mbodj) hurt, JaQuon (Parker) hurt and a bunch of freshman with no clue. We're a much deeper team and a much more experienced team.
Offensively, we are a lot harder to defend because of our ability to shoot the basketball. Bellarmine found that out the hard way. When you are able to start banging in shots against teams that are trying to stop the drive then it becomes a pick your poison type of thing. The floor is more open because of the guys' ability to put the ball in the basket."
On Justin Jackson's contributions:
"The challenge for Justin is to become more of a consistent player. I don't want him to rely on his hustle. I want him to rely on his fundamentals. His great hustle to run down and block shots and make up for mistakes is a tremendous attribute. But I don't want him to get beat. I want him to be more fundamental in his stance.
"On the offensive end, he spent to whole offseason working as a guard, as a playmaker. He's got to learn when to make an easy play. At times, he forces the action too much. I wish he had the two exhibition games from an offensive standpoint.
"I've challenged him to become a great defender. For him to have a professional career at his size, it's going to be as a defender and being able to defend guys at three positions. We've really tried to be more fundamental with his stance. Not just a guy that runs down and blocks shots and covers for his teammates, but a lockdown defender like Rashad Bishop was -- just taller."
No. 1-Cashmere Wright, G
On if there is a different feeling heading into a regular-season game versus an exhibition game:
"I think the preparation is different. I think we were trying to find our identity with the exhibition games. Everybody was trying to find their niche. Now, everyone knows their role and how we're going to play. It's about execution now."
On if the new players have found their role:
"There are only two of them. David (Nyarsuk) came in knowing he had to block shots. Coach Cronin told him he needed to block shots and rebound and we're going to get him points. Titus (Rubles) is just going to fit in. He's kind of the new Rashard Bishop around here. He can play every position. He fits in wherever we need him to."
On where the offense is compared to this point last season:
"We're comfortable with each other. We allow each other to go to their strengths. If you want to go to the rack, then go to the rack. If you want to shoot the ball, then shoot it. We've got full confidence in each person when they have the ball in their hands and (everyone) is responding right now."
On taking each opponent seriously:
"Every game we have to take seriously. Last year we lost to Presbyterian because we came to the game thinking they can't beat us. But we saw last year that anybody can beat anybody any day."
No. 23-Sean Kilpatrick, G
On where the offense is compared to this point last season:
"Everyone is a little bit more comfortable with each other now. We haven't played a lot with Titus, but that's the type of player he is. He's a free-minded player. You can put him in any position on the court and he can just play it. (The offense) came together because everyone knows how to play the way Coach (Cronin) is letting us play.
On how the loss last season to Presbyterian changed your mindset these types of games:
"It changed my mindset extremely. I take everybody we play now as if they were a BIG EAST team."
On how he has improved during the offseason and thoughts on being named to the John R. Wooden Award preseason list:
"I've gotten better at my ball handling and making better decisions. Last year, I rushed things. That's something that Coach (Cronin) told me to work on over the summer. Work on your patience and just know that everything is going to come to you if you are patient.
"The (Wooden Award) watch list means a lot, but it won't mean anything if we don't win the BIG EAST title or anything like that. The individual stuff can wait. I'm just worried about winning the championship."
On what he means by being more patient:
"It's more so just being a play maker. If you've got the shot then take the shot. Everyone in the country knows I can score, but I want to get the other players involved as well. That's what means the most to me. If they are not having fun then I'm not having fun."