2007 Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball Preview
The Cincinnati Bearcats (11- 19 overall, 2- 14 Big East) won 25 games and in our college basketball picks in 2005 and 2006 and went to March Madness both times. Last year, the club finished last in the Big East, missing the NCAA and NIT. Coach Mick Cronin (11- 19 in one year with Cincinnati, 80- 43 in four years) replaced the embattled Bob Huggins last year and found it rough going. This year may be a bit smoother, but it probably won’t result in a NCAA or NIT appearance. Rebuilding is the name of the game for the Bearcats. Cronin has started the ball rolling with the freshman class.
The best news for the Bearcats last season and in the college basketball lines, concerned their ball handling. With 12.6 turnovers per game, they placed fifth in the Big East. In rebounding margin and scoring defense, the team was 12th at plus-0.3 and 67.7 PPG. They scored only 64.6 PPG, making them minus-3.1 in PF/PA. The club was 15th in assists with 12.5 per game. They were one of the worst foul shooting teams in the conference, hitting 61% of their charity stripe shots.
Forward Mike Williams, who transferred from Texas, is a versatile performer who will have an immediate impact. Forward Adam Hyrcanik, a senior transfer from Poland, will add defense and rebounding skills to the front. Frosh center Anthony McClain is another big body; he can rebound and block shots.
Sophomore Deonta Vaughn (14.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 37.3 FG%) comes back as the club’s returning leader in points per game and assists. He was selected to the Big East’s all-rookie team last year. Freshman guard Alvin Mitchell comes on board sporting great scoring chops; he has the potential to be the Big East Freshman of the Year. McClain is a quick scorer.
The point guard position is the weakest link on this team and that means that coach Cronin will have a tough time. But in one year, he’s managed to find some good recruits. The incoming class is considered to be one of the top-25 in the nation. If the Bearcats can win half of their games and get invited to the Big Dance and into the tournament brackets, that will be a major accomplishment.