2008 Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball Preview
The Cincinnati Bearcats (13-19 overall, 8-10 Big East) have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005. That was under former coach Bob Huggins, who was fired by Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher in 2005. Coach Mick Cronin has been at the helm for two seasons; under Cronin the Bearcats have gone 24-38. There has been some improvement by the Cats in terms of their conference play. But what will really make a difference for this team and program will be securing a NCAA berth.
The frontcourt features depth and athleticism, neither of which have been present the past two seasons. Forward Mike Williams, a transfer from Texas who did not play last season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon, offers strong inside play and solid leadership skills. Seven-foot, sophomore center Anthony McClain (9.5 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.1 APG, 44.2 FG%, 46.9 FT%) had a rough go of it in his initial season, partly due to a nagging bone spur in his foot. That’s been repaired, which should help. But McClain has to be more aggressive if he’s going to make his mark. Forward Steve Toyloy, a junior transfer from Miami-Dade, is a solid banger who will help control the boards.
The backcourt has been deficient in scorers save for guard Deonta Vaughn (33.4 MPG, 17.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 43.6 FG%, 78.9 FT%), who has born the burden of doing it all. Last season, he hit threes at the rate of 39.8%. Freshman Cashmere Wright should be a big help. Wright, a dead-on shot, can use his quickness to penetrate and score or penetrate and kick it back out to Vaughn. Freshman Dion Dixon is another fine shooter. Sophomore Larry Davis (11.5 MPG, 4.3 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 41.6 FG%, 68.4 FT%) is also an able shooter.
The Bearcats continue to improve slowly. Last year, they went to
the CBI, while the year before that they stayed home. This season
a NIT appearance seems likely and, with some hard work and another
solid recruiting class, this team could be back at the Big Dance