2009-2010 Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball Preview
The Cincinnati Bearcats (18- 14 overall, 8- 10 Big East) were last in the NCAA Tournament in 2005 when they went two and out. That was when they were still in Conference USA. Since moving to the Big East in 2006, they have missed the post season twice, been to the NIT once and the CBI once. Could this be the year that the Bearcats rebound and make their way back to the Big Dance?
It’s tough to win games in the Big East when your differential between scoring offense and scoring defense is a mere plus-2.0. That was Cincinnati’s lot last season, as they scored 68.3 PPG (12th in Big East) and allowed 66.3 PPG (7th). The team was 13th in field goal percentage (42%) and 11th in free throws (66%). Perhaps the best thing they had going was their rebounding margin, which was plus-3.7, ranking them fifth in the conference.
As a rookie last season, Yancy Gates (10.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 0.4 APG) proved that he had talent. In his second season, it’s hoped that he can develop his rebounding and post skills. Oklahoma State transfer Ibrahima Thomas, tall rangy player with a fine shot and good shot blocking chops, will be eligible to play in December. Freshman swingman Lance Stephenson can do it all: score, rebound and dish off assists. There’s also plenty of length and depth in the frontcourt.
The backcourt includes top scoring threat and senior Deonta Vaughn (15.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.7 APR). Joining him will be talented freshman Cashmere Wright. Wright is a fine point guard who plays the transition with ease. Shooting guards Larry Davis (6.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, ajunor, and Dion Dixon (7.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.4 APG), a sophomore, will be effective if they can develop consistency. Freshman guard Jaquon Parker will play some important minutes this season.
Head coach Mick Cronin came to his alma mater after head coach
Bob Huggins was fired and the Cincinnati basketball program was
in shambles. Now in his fourth year, Cronin has rebuilt the Bearcats
and has them poised for a breakout season. This is a team that
will finish in the middle of the Big East pack and earn an invite
to the NCAA Tournament. Once in March Madness, the Bearcats won’t
last past round two. Still, if that scenario does play out, it
will be a day of triumph for Cronin and company.