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 kenpom.com 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.