Saturday, December 19, 2009

UC routed by UAB, rolls over Limpscomb

The game at UAB set up as a trap for Cincinnati, coming off a hard-fought loss to rival Xavier, and against a solid team with a great home court advantage (UAB is 33-2 at home since the 2007-‘08 season). They lost 64-47.

It is easier to look at the positives for the Cats, then to look at what they did bad (mostly everything). They played solid defense, holding UAB to a 39% mark from the field and forcing 19 turnovers.

Offensively, Cincy was terrible, scoring just 47 points in 69 possessions. They shot 32% from the field, 14% on threes, and had 17 turnovers of their own.

Deonta Vaughn continued his shooting struggles, making just two of nine shots (1-7 on threes). He also had five turnovers and just two assists, but did add seven rebounds. Yancy Gates was also contained, scoring just seven points while collecting six boards. Cincinnati was dominated on the glass overall, losing the rebounding battle 47-34.


On Saturday, Cincinnati rolled over Limpscomb 80-52. The Beatcats shot the ball well, hitting on 54% of their shots from the field (39% from three). Cincy’s defense was great, holding a solid offense (ranked 96th in the country by KenPom) to 29% from the field, and 52 points in 69 possessions.

Lance Stephenson lead the way from UC, scoring 19 points on just 11 shots, adding five assists without a turnover. Ibrahima Thomas logged a solid 18 minute effort for the Cats (after looking shaky, to say the least, in his debut against Xavier), scoring ten points (4-5 shooting) and picking up six rebounds. Rashad Bishop did not miss in five shots (three from deep) and scored 13.

Yancy Gates played just four minutes, apparently due to a lack of effort. Cincinnati takes on Winthrop on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is wrong with Vaughn?

If you look at Deonta Vaughn’s raw numbers, he looks like a player in decline. He debuted as a freshman averaging 14.5 points a game, and peaked in his sophomore year at just over 17. This year, his senior season, his average is just under 11 points a game, his career low. However, is he really playing worse basketball? updated its individual player stats page today, so let’s take a closer look at the numbers:

YR %Mins ORtg %Shots eFG% DR% ARate TORate 2pt% 3pt%
FR 82 100 29 45 10 25 17 47 29
SO 83 110 28 56 9 31 21 49 40
JR 89 105 24 49 11 27 23 47 34
SR 66 114 20 50 15 30 18 53 33

(edit: these stats don’t include the Xavier game)

Most of the stats in the table are explained here.

So, what do we make of the above numbers? The first thing that stands out is Deonta’s decline in minutes so far this year, compared to the rest of his career at UC. Deonta has always been the go-to guy, needed on the court at all times for Cincy to have a chance (or, precisely, about 85% of the time). This year, however, with an improved supporting cast, and scorers like Lance Stephenson on the floor, Deonta does not have to log as many minutes.

He is also shooting the ball less. His %shots (percentage of team shots while on the floor) has actually declined since his freshman year – his worst shooting year, percentage wise – and this year it is down to 20%. This coincides with point one; that there are currently more options on the floor than in the past.

Vaughn’s best shooting% year was indeed his sophomore campaign, but he’s actually shooting just as well this year as he did last year, and well better than his freshman year. He’s also posting career-best rebounding marks, grabbing 15% of possible defensive boards while on the court, a solid number for a 6-1 guard.

It looks like moving off the point has also helped his game. His assist rate has remained high despite playing a lot at shooting guard, giving way to Cashmere Wright at the point, and his turnover rate has dropped. If Vaughn can recapture the three-point shooting touch of his sophomore season, he could be absolutely lethal for this team. But even as it is now, he is still very productive, and any talk of deteriorating skills or production are probably premature.

Deonta Vaughn’s rate stats appear to be in decline, and in some ways, they are. But he is adjusting to his new role on this team, and he is arguably playing better basketball than he has played in the past.

*I should note, as a huge caveat, it is always dangerous to rely too much on early season stats. They certainly do not tell the whole story eight games into the season.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cannot shoot free throws

Cincinnati was shooting 63% from the line coming into tonight’s game against Xavier, good for 301st in the nation. Tonight, that number went down. They shot 10-22 from the line, which clearly helped Xavier sneak by UC in two OTs. Seriously, that is unacceptable.

Other notes:

  • Lance Stephenson is awesome.
  • This is a very solid basketball team.
  • That is a very tough loss to stomach.

UC takes on Xavier

Cincinnati faces arguably their toughest challenge today, as they take on Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout (at the Cintas Center). Both teams have been relatively similar so far, by Pomeroy’s rating. Xavier is ranked 80th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 20th in defense. Cincy is ranked 143 on offense, but 28th defensively.

UC should get a bit of a test on the glass, with 6-9 Jason Love and 6-8 Jamel Mclean leading the way for Xavier (combining for 17 boards per game), but Cincy should still at least hold their own in rebounding.

I think the game will come down to how the Cats play from three-point land, both offensively and defensively. Cincy has shot just 29% from three so far, and they’ve allowed opponents to shoot 34% from long range. Xavier is ranked 7th in the country, knocking down 44.5% of their three point attempts. However, opponents shoot almost 36% against them.

If Cincinnati can finally knock down some threes, and if they can defend Xavier well on the perimeter (a tough task), they should be in great position to pull of a huge road win. If not, well, it could be a long night.

Either way, it will be a fun one tonight, as it always is when these two teams do battle. Let’s go Cincy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Cincinnati is ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2006 (h/t: Bill Koch). That is a long time to go unranked, especially for a program with such a winning tradition. Followers of this blog may recall my apathetic take on the top 25 rankings, but hey, I’m not going to complain now : ) has Cincy rated as the 41st best team in the country, so it is not unreasonable that they are in the top 25. Not to mention, of course, the early ratings are pretty unreliable because of the small number of games played.

Anyway, tomorrow the Cats take on a Texas Southern team that is only 1-4 against Division 1 teams so far (3-4 overall). Their offense has been decent, however, ranking 117th in the country by Pomeroy’s Adjusted Efficiency, and lead by 39% shooting from beyond the arc. Cincinnati has struggled a bit defending the three (36% against) – so that is something to watch for.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maui tested, Maui approved

Despite the disappointing loss to Gonzaga in the final (a great game, by the way), this was obviously a very good three game stretch for Cincinnati in Hawaii. They beat up on two very solid teams in Vanderbilt and Maryland, and were easily as good as the Zags in the finale.

For some perspective, last year had Vanderbilt ranked as the 77th best team in the country, Maryland at 54, and Gonzaga at 7. Gonzaga has lost some key players from last year’s team, but Vandy and Maryland returned most of their key players. Point being, these are good basketball teams.

The positives for Cincy so far have to be the overall toughness they’ve shown on defense and on the glass. Not counting tonight’s loss to Gonzaga, UC’s offensive rebounding percentage of 46% is 8th in the country (obviously, a small sample of four games). There’s a good amount of depth on this team and a lot of guys who can contribute on both sides of the floor.

That said, there’s still a lot to work on. The 3-point shooting so far has not been good, at around 28%. Also, Cincy has not done a good enough job going inside and getting to the free throw line, highlighted (lowlighted?) by tonight’s 5-11 performance from the line (Gonzaga was 16-23).

It is going to be fun to watch this team grow up together, though, with a good mix of talented youngsters like Stephenson and Wright joining experienced vets like Vaughn and Gates.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Panic time?

Hey, I’m back. Should have some time to blog this season.

I haven’t followed the offseason too closely, but I do know that Cashmere Wright is back, and that the Bearcats brought in a few highly regarded freshmen, and that valuable players like Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates are still here.

I also know that Cincy is trailing Prairie View A&M 33-22, with just over three minutes to play in the first half.

To answer my question in the title, I’m going to say “no.” Cincinnati should come alive here,the shots should start falling, and they should win this one running away. But this is definitely not the way you want to draw it up, opening against a SWAC team (albeit, a pretty good one) at home, and struggling big time.

We’ll see what happens here.

edit: Well, okay, Cincy has taken control of this one, and they now lead by nine with a couple mintues left in the game. What can ya say? Not an impressive win, but there isn't too much to gain from these games, either way. They did what they had to do in the second half, as both the offense and defense picked up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Still here

Just wanted to let you know that I’m still here. I plan on blogging the upcoming season, even if it’s just a post or two a month. I’ll probably check out the recruiting landscape sometime soon, and check back in here.

Thanks for dropping in!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sheehan’s bubble

Joe Sheehan takes a look at who’s on the bubble at Basketball Prospectus. The guy obviously knows his stuff, but I’m not sure if I agree with his Big East bubble teams.

His BE locks are (with KenPom ratings in parenthesis): UCONN (3), Louisville (8), Pitt (4), Villanova (20), Marquette (23), Syracuse (21), and West Virginia (9).

Bubble: Georgetown (24), Providence (76), and Notre Dame (36).

I don’t have a problem with Georgetown and Notre Dame, but why Providence and not Cincy? Providence’s rating is 76 and UC’s is 82 (Seton Hall is also right there are 78).

I think it’s safe to say that the selection committee probably relies more on RPI, but 1) KenPom ratings are probably better and 2) I don’t believe there’s any way I can access RPI online for free. Anyway, let’s do a little comparison, Providence vs. Cincy, using KenPom’s great data:

Teams Cincinnati Providence
Record 18-13 18-12
BE record 8-10 10-8
SOS 29 46
vs. KenPom top 50 5-9 3-7
vs. KenPom top100 7-12 6-11
Offensive rating 64 (ncaa rank) 43
Defensive rating 106 129

It looks to me like the two teams are pretty equal. The advantages for the Friars is their slightly better overall and BE record and their two wins against the Bearcats. The advantages for UC is a slightly better SOS and (again, slightly) better performance against top teams.

The point is not that one team is better than the other; just that, if one of them is considered a bubble team, they both should be.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fun night of college hoops

Right now you’ve got College of Charlestown vs. Chattanooga on espn (it’s 63-51, Chattanooga; a mild upset in the making). Despite being 26-7, Charlestown isn’t a huge favorite, as their SOS is 314th in the country, according to KenPom. Chattanooga is 17-16, but has a 236 SOS, making them a bit stronger than they appear, relative to C of C. Anyway, it is a must win for both teams, and it looks like Chatt. is going to the NCAA tournament.

On espn2, Virginia Commonwealth is headed for a victory over George Mason, as they lead 53-37 with about six minutes to play. These were the two premier teams in the CAA, though it looks like George Mason is going home with this lose (KenPom rating of 86).

Western Kentucky and North Texas are locked in a close battle to decide the Sun Belt Conference (edit: Duh, this wasn't the conference championship ...). Western Kentucky is the better team (104 rating; North Texas is at 160), but it’s obviously a must win for both teams.

Let me add that I know there are other tournaments, outside of the NCAAs, that some of these teams will be eligible for. So when I say “must win,” I’m assuming everyone is shooting for the NCAA tourney.

Later on, you’ve got the two marquee games, imo.`Patty Mills is back in action for St. Mary’s (51 rating), as they take on WCC (and national) powerhouse Gonzaga. Mills is having another fine year, shooting 48% from two point range, 36% from three, and averaging 18.4 points a game. His return is certainly big, as he came back last night against Portland, but make no mistake, this St. Mary’s team has a very good supporting cast, led by Omar Somhan (his offensive rating is ranked 109th, block percentage 93rd, and offensive rebound% 17th in the nation, all by KenPom). St. Mary’s probably has an outside chance of getting in the tourney with a loss, but I’m sure they’d rather not leave it in the hands of the committee.

The other game is Siena against Niagara in Albany (Siena’s home court). The teams line up back-to-back in Pomeroy’s ratings, Niagara 68th and Siena 69th. Both teams have tourney hopes with a loss, but both desperately want the win. Like I mentioned, Siena’s at home, where they are very good.

Alright, alright, a few predictions … just for fun:

St. Mary’s beats Gonzaga 78-75
Siena beats Niagara 88-83

Check in later tonight to make fun of those …

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Collapse, 2009 edition

Over the last three years, Cincinnati has collapsed, in some way or another, down the home stretch of the season. Sure, part of it is switching from a much easier non-conference schedule to Big East play, but part of it is also, well, ugly basketball.

In 2007 (the 06-07 season), UC started out 9-3 and had quality wins against teams like Xavier and NC State. They looked like a decent team. After that start, however, they went 2-16 the rest of the way and lost 11 of their last 12 games.

Last year’s team was sitting at 13-12, coming off a nice three game winning streak. They did not win again, and finished the year 13-19.

This year’s collapse, if you wish to call it that, was much more of a quick, punch in the gut, than a long, drawn out string of poor performance. Again, after a three game winning streak, the wins coming against Notre Dame, Georgetown, and St. Johns, the Bearcats sat at 17-8 (7-5 in the BE) and were in prime position to make the NCAA tournament. They lost back to back tough games against Pitt and Louisville, but came back to get a big win against Bobby Huggins’ West Virginia team. Then UC lost the final three against Syracuse, South Florida, and Seton Hall, making an at large bid extremely unlikely. Losing five out of the final six just isn’t going to cut it.

The good news is that we’ve still got the Big East tourney left this year. The 2007 and 2008 seasons are over : ) UC will face the #16 seed DePaul, who went winless in conference play, on Tuesday. Assuming a win there, a solid Providence team is up next. Then it’s number one seed Louisville. To really reestablish a possibility of an at-large bid, I think Cincy has to win those first three games, and that is no easy task. Heck, if we get that far, we may as well just win the final two games and get the automatic berth.

The other good news is that we should be happy that we’re disappointed with an 18-13 season. Cincinnati was expected to play much worse than they did this year, and I think progress is being made. If you look at Pomeroy’s ratings over the last three years, you can see it:

2007: 113
2008: 98
2009: 81

It may be slow, but it’s progress. If you trust Pomeroy’s ratings, this team picked up a lot of good wins: UNLV (57), UAB (38), Georgetown twice (24), Notre Dame (36), and West Virginia (9).

Anyway, while I’m upset with the regular season finish, we can salvage things -- to a degree anyway -- with a good tournament performance. I’m looking forward to that.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two crucial home games

Obviously, at this point of this season, every game is critical. But I think that, the next two home games vs. Louisville and West Virginia, really stand out. If UC can win one of these two, they have a great chance of making the NCAA tournament, imo.

They will both be tough games; Pomeroy has Louisville ranked 16th in the country and WV 6th. But I think there’s a decent chance the Bearcats can pull off a win.

Anyway, since we’ve last chatted, UC has beat Notre Dame at home, Georgetown on the road, St. Johns at home, and lost to Pitt on the road. You had to figure winning two out of those four would have been impressive; three is just great.

Cincy now has some real quality wins to hang their hat on:

@ #47 UNLC
#41 UAB
#21 Georgetown
#37 Notre Dame
@ #21 Georgetown

The worst loss is a respectable one –  #71 Providence at home.

UC’s NCAA tourney hopes rest on two things: one, how they perform in their final five games and the BE tourney. Two, how the committee evaluates the likes of Georgetown and Notre Dame, very good teams that have less-than-spectacular records.

It is a toss up at this point, whether UC will be dancing or not. But, let’s face it, nobody expected to even be thinking about it this year.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shots per minute

I continue my consistently inconsistent blogging with a look at shots per minute. That’s simply shots per minute played and it gives us a decent look at who is most likely to pull the trigger when they’re on the floor. In the table below, along with shots per minute, I’ll also list shots per 40 minutes, which puts things into perspective a little bit:


I left of Miller, but for the sake of completeness, he shoots .38 shots per minute, which is like 15 per 40 (though he has only played 32 mins).

In a perfect world, the guys who shoot most often would also be the best shooters. Let’s take a look. To measure shooting, we’ll use effective field goal %, which adjusts for the three point shot: fg + (.5* 3pt fg)/fg att

Yancy Gates’ eFG% is essentially his actual fg% because he’s shot only four threes all year. It’s at 49.4%, good for fourth on the team, and ahead of everyone with substantial playing time, outside of Toyloy.

Vaughn’s eFG% is right behind Gates’ at 49%. So far, no problems.

Alvin Mitchell, who shoots a three 70% of the time, has an eFG% of 47.8%. Larry Davis, another three point specialist, is at 45.7%. Dion Dixon, the third straight long range threat, is at 43%, or last on the team. In defense of Dixon, he’s shot 41% over the last seven games and looks to be a better shooter than his early numbers would indicate.

Mike Williams has an eFG% of 48%, just behind Gates and Vaughn. McClain doesn’t play too much, but shoots a ridiculous 69% from the field. Bishop’s eFG% is a decent 46.3. Wilks is a solid 53.4%, but like McClain, doesn’t see a lot of playing time.

Toyloy, who rarely shoots, is at an impressive 60%, as that is what he’s shot on the year (all 2 pointers).

Okay, so this is easy; Toyloy is the second best shooter on the team, by eFG%, so make him shoot more! Not so fast; Toyloy’s shooting percentage is high because he shoots a lot of very makeable shots. He only pulls the trigger when he has a good chance of scoring. On the other hand, someone like Gates or Vaughn, take many more difficult shots. So, if Toyloy was all the sudden asked to shoot as much as those guys, his field goal percentage would almost certainly go down, as he’d no longer be able to wait for an “easy” shot.

That’s why it’s not so cut and dry as to how often players should shoot. Replacing Vaughn’s, Davis’, Dixon’s, and Mitchell’s threes with more shots by Toyloy and McClain makes sense on paper, but probably wouldn’t work so well in real games.

It appears to me that, in general, the Bearcats are doing a decent job distributing their shots to their better scorers. It’s not like we’ve got a guy who is a poor shooter, who is getting the most shots on the team. Williams may want to shoot more often, Dixon and Davis a little less. Working in some more shots for some of the role players, like McClain and Toyloy, may also be a good idea.