Dec. 7, 2007
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The Cincinnati Bearcats (4-3, 0-0 BIG EAST) continue their first road swing of the season Saturday, Dec. 8 at Illinois State. Tip-off for the game is set for 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. UC is looking to put a 73-54 loss at UAB behind them, while Illinois State is coming off a 72-63 loss at Eastern Michigan. The game is the third meeting between the two schools. The Bearcats won the first two, including a 76-59 contest in the Shoemaker Center in 2005.
THE TEXAS GUNSLINGER: Senior guard Marvin Gentry, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, is carrying a hot hand from the field for UC, shooting 48.8 percent overall and .481 from 3-point range for the year. Since going 0-for-7 vs. Bowling Green in Game 3, Gentry has shot 12-for-23 (.522), including 8-for-15 (.533) from behind the arc.
GETTING SOME HELP: After missing Cincinnati's first six games with a hand injury, senior guard Jamual Warren returned to the court at UAB and provided immediate help, especially on the defense. In 16 minutes vs. the Blazers, Warren pulled down two defensive rebounds, made two steals and dished off three assists, offensively. With Warren's return, sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn, who was averaging 36.5 minutes a game, played a season-low 28 vs. the Blazers.
Cincinnati at Illinois State
SCOUTING THE REDBIRDS: Illinois State heads into its game vs. Cincinnati after dropping its last decision, 72-63, to Eastern Michigan from the Mid-American Conference. After starting the season 3-0, the Redbirds have dropped three of their last five decisions, losing at nationally-ranked Indiana (70-57) and to Kent State University (65-59) and EMU. The Redbirds sport three players averaging over 10 points a game led by sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge, averaging 16.1 points per game. Eldridge is also one of the Redbirds toughest defenders with 21 steals in eight games (2.6 steals per game). On the boards, the Redbirds second-leading scorer, senior Anthony Slack (11.5 ppg), averages a team-best 6.6 rebounds per game. Defensively as a team, Illinois State is holding its opponents to just 38.8 percent (159-410) from the floor overall and 30.8 percent from behind the 3-point line.
BACK IN THE DAY: From 1957-1970, the University of Cincinnati was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. During that 13-season span, UC put together one of the most successful stretches in school history, posting a record of 286-76 (.790), winning seven MVC conference championships (see page 6 of the notes for listing) and both of Cincinnati's NCAA national championships (1961 and 1962). Oscar Robertson, the NCAA's College Basketball Player of the Century played his career at Cincinnati as a member of the MVC.
LET THERE BE NO CONFUSION: Despite having two Larry Davis's with the UC program -- the associate head coach and the freshman guard from Houston, Texas -- Larry Davis, the player, has begun to make a name of his own in the last two games. Against South Carolina Upstate and UAB, Davis has averaged 10 points per game, including a season-best 15 versus Upstate. He is shooting 7-of-16 (.438) in the two games. He has taken over the team scoring lead among freshmen from Rashad Bishop, netting a season average of 6.3 points per game.
DEFENSIVE HELP: The return of Jamual Warren to the line up at UAB paid immediate dividends for UC defensively as he made two steals. Last season, Cincinnati ranked 8th in the BIG EAST in steals per game (7.67) and Warren averaged 1.83 of the total. Before Warren's return, the Bearcats were only making 4.85 steals per game -- last in the BIG EAST -- but last Saturday, UC had seven steals.
EUROPEAN IMPACT: Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk (pronounced hu-RITZ-a-nyuk), a native of Poland, has made an immediate impact on the Bearcats. After having to sit out last year due to NCAA clearance issues, Hrycaniuk has jumped into the line-up for UC and become an offensive threat, scoring 11.6 points per game and joining sophomore Deonta Vaughn as the only other double-digit scorer on the team. The 6-foot-10 post player is also Cincinnati's second-leading rebounder with 6.0 rebounds per game. In UC's last four game, Hrycaniuk is shooting .515 (17-for-33) from the field and .929 from the free-throw line.
BISHOP TAKES QUEEN (CITY): Freshman forward/guard Rashad Bishop has quickly become one of the Bearcats' top all-around newcomers. Starting UC's last five games, Bishop has scored in double digits twice, including two games with a season-high 12 points (Bowling Green and Fairfield), and is averaging 5.8 in those games. Not only has he provided offensive punch, he has also added 4.6 rebounds and is second on the team with 2.8 assists per game. Recently, EPSN.com named Bishop one of the BIG EAST's top impact freshmen.
30-MINUTE MAN ...: Through Cincinnati's first six games, senior point guard Deonta Vaughn was the iron-man of UC basketball, logging an average of 36.5 minutes per game. In the season opener vs. Belmont, Vaughn played 39 minutes for the Bearcats, three short of his career high of 42 in a 70-67 overtime victory over Seton Hall on Feb. 28 of last season. With the return of UC's other point guard, Jamual Warren to the line-up at UAB, Vaughn was able to play a season-low 28 minutes vs. the Blazers. After Vaughn's 36.5 minutes per game, the next closest players on the team to him are seniors Adam Hrycaniuk (29.0) and Marvin Gentry (27.4).
30-POINT MAN: Sophomore point guard Deonta Vaughn, the team's leading scorer last year and this year, had a night to remember vs. Coastal Carolina (Nov. 16). Vaughn established a new career high for points in a game with 36 and equaled his career best with nine 3-point baskets, one short of the school record. His 36 points were the most by a Bearcat since Steve Logan posted 41 vs. Southern Mississippi on Feb. 15, 2002. Through seven games, Vaughn leads Cincinnati in scoring with 16.0 points per game.
LENDING A HELPING HAND: Sophomore point guard Deonta Vaughn is averaging 5.28 assists per game, ranking him sixth in the BIG EAST. If he can maintain the pace, he would be the first player to dish out 5.0 or more assists per game since Taron Barker (5.0) in 2002-03.
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.
BLOCK PARTY: Even though he is averaging just 9.2 minutes per game, center Anthony McClain has already made a difference in one statistical category for the Bearcats ... blocked shots. Last season, UC ranked last in the BIG EAST, rejecting just 1.93 shots per game. So far this season, Cincinnati is averaging 2.9 blocks per game thanks mostly to McClain's team-best 11 blocked shots in just 50 minutes of action (1 every five minutes on the floor). Three times this season, McClain has blocked three shots in a game (vs. Western Carolina, Fairfield and UAB). Besides standing 6-11, McClain has the advantage of a 7-foot-3 wing span.
SMUDGES ON THE GLASS: On the year, UC is out rebounding its opponents by an average margin of +2.6 boards per game, but in two of the last three games the Bearcats have been beat on the boards by Fairfield (-12 margin) and UAB (-7).
GETTING TO THE LINE: With a bigger front line and more players taking the ball to the net, UC is getting to the free-throw line 22.1 times a game this season. Last year, the Bearcats averaged 17.2 shots per game from the charity stripe. After making 6-of-14 attempts against USC Upstate and dropping it season free-throw percentage to .657, its lowest mark of the year, the Bearcats rebounded vs. UAB knocking down 11-of-14 (.786). Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk leads the team in free-throw shooting, converting 27-of-32 free throws (.844).
WHEN YOU NEED IT MOST: Senior center Adam Hrycaniuk has been clutch for the Bearcats late in games, converting 7-of-8 free throws (.875) in the last three minutes of games determined by 10 points or less.
BEARCATS TOUGH TO BEAT IN FIFTH THIRD ARENA: With a 4-2 start to its home schedule, Cincinnati owns a record of 249-45 (.847 winning percentage) in its 19 seasons in Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center. The game versus South Carolina Upstate closed out a season-long six-game home stand that also included the Peggy Cronin Classic, Coastal Carolina and Fairfield. UC is 84-22 in Fifth Third over the last six seasons.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Head coach Mick Cronin, in just his second year at Cincinnati, has done the work of a coach in this fourth year on the job, having signed 15 players in the last 18+ months. This season's six-person freshman class is considered by the recruiting services as one of the top 20 groups in the nation and the stats attest to that. Larry Davis and Rashad Bishop have combined for five double-digit scoring nights and center Anthony McClain has scored 41 points, pulled down 19 rebounds (12 offensive) and blocked 11 shots in just 55 minutes of action. Davis and Bishop have had the best offensive seasons to date, averaging 6.3 and 5.9 ppg.
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.
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 (Cincinnati, OH/Withrow) and guard Cashmere Wright (Savannah, GA/Urban Christian High School).
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 Withrow High School playing for Walt McBride, Gates averaged 19.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game in 2006-07. He helped the Tigers to a 17-6 record and missed the state semifinals by one game. A second-team Ohio all-state selection, Gates is the first freshman player in Cronin's first three recruiting classes to come from the talent-rich Cincinnati area.
Wright, another highly-regarded recruit, who is ranked among many of the recruiting services top 100 players, comes to Cincinnati from the Urban Christian Academy in Savannah, Ga., where he averaged 36.2 points, 10.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game in 2006-07. In his first two games this season, Wright posted 43 and 35 points, respectively, and is a McDonald's All-America candidate.
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.
BEARCATS ON TV: This season all 30 of Cincinnati's regular-season contests can be seen on television via its local package with FOX19 (WXIX-TV) or through the conference package with the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN 360, or ESPN Regional). The BIG EAST's ESPN Regional package, which includes the BIG EAST Game of the Week, can be seen in Cincinnati on CinCW, the digital sister station of WKRC-TV (Channel 12). CinCW is available on most local cable systems as well as satellite providers.
FOX 19 SUPPLIES TV COVERAGE: FOX19 (WXIX-TV) has been the local television home of Bearcats basketball for 26 of the past 28 years and will originate 10 games and air two others from the BIG EAST Game of the Week syndicated package with ESPN Regional. Jeff Piecoro (play-by-play) and Anthony Buford (color analyst) are the primary talent for the package.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Bearcats take a short trip across town for their next game, the annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout vs. rival Xavier University on Dec. 12. The lead up to the game begins Monday, Dec. 10 with the Crosstown Shootout Luncheon at the Duke Energy Center. Any media wishing to attend should contact Tom McGill at Game Day Communications. His phone number is (513) 929-GAME.