Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cash money

Cashmere Wright scored a career-high 24 points (on 9-11 shooting) to spark Cincinnati to a 92-88 win over Providence on Saturday night. Wright also recorded five assists, no turnovers, three steals, and four rebounds.

Cincinnati's offense, in general, was tremendous all night, scoring 92 points in 79 possessions. They shot 57% from the field, and 44% (8-18) from three-point range. They did, however, struggle at the line again, with an embarrassing 20-41 performance that allowed Providence to make a game of it late.

Rashad Bishop went 3-3 from deep, scoring 16 points on nine shots. He also added six rebounds. Lance Stephenson quietly had a solid game with 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Deonta Vaughn scored just 12 points on eight shots, and went 5-10 at the line (where he had been shooting nearly 90% all year).

The Providence defense is 15th in the Big East, according to Pomeroy's ratings, so it is not surprising that Cincy had a great night offensively (though it's still very encouraging). Conversely, their offense is very talented, ranking 27th in the country. After making their first six three pointers, though, they went just 7-28 from beyond the arc the rest of the night.

What we saw on Saturday night was not a familiar sight : a fast-paced, high scoring game that Cincinnati clearly took control of. The defense was not up to par, but offensively they showed that they can win a shootout.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Can ya say offense?

Cincinnati rolled over South Florida earlier tonight, 78-70. Sure, they only won by eight points, but for the most part they controlled the game, maintaining a ~ten point advantage throughout the second half.

The offense finally came to life, as Cincy shot 56% overall and 36% from beyond the arc. They were led by the sharp shooting of Deonta Vaughn (20 points on 10 field goals), Rashad Bishop (15 pts/11 fgs), and Jaquon Parker (15 pts/8fgs). Those three also combined for 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and only 2 turnovers.

Yancy Gates played only 10 minutes due to foul trouble, but did score 8 points and grab 2 bounds. Lance Stephenson did not play because of a sore ankle.

The offensive efficiency is promising because South Florida is a pretty solid defense, 50th in the nation in Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency. Cincinnati shot the three ball relatively well in the first half, hitting 4 of 11 from long range, but what you have to like is that, despite that, they went inside in the second half. They shot 14-21 on two point point field goals in the second half, and only attempted 3 threes. They also got to the line 14 times (though only converted on 6 of those attempts).

Overall, it was nice to see some solid offensive play, mixing the occasional three point attempt with some easy buckets down low. The defense was not quite up to par, but tonight, for once, the offense picked up the slack.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

From the Big Win Department

In a tie game, Deonta Vaughn lobbed a pass to Yancy Gates in the final moments; Gates missed his first attempt, but followed successfully with just over two seconds to play. Notre Dame’s desperation shot hit the net, and UC got a well earned, much needed victory, 60-58.

Cincinnati improves to 12-6 (3-3 BE) on the year, while the Irish fall to 14-4 (3-2). Coming into the game Notre Dame was ranked 71st in the country by Pomeroy, and the Bearcats 55th. The game featured a big contrast in strengths, with ND’s high powered offense (4th, by Pomeroy) squaring off against Cincy’s strong defense (32nd).

The Bearcats held the Irish to 46% from two point range, and 29% from three. On the year, they were shooting 53% on twos and 43% on threes. The Cats forced Luke Harangody into eating up way too many ND possessions, as he shot 20 times (plus 2-6 on free throws), and turned it over 4 times, while managing to score just 14 points. UC also controlled the glass 50-31, led by 13 rebounds from Yancy Gates.

The only negative from this game, and it’s a pretty big one, is the offense. Against a terrible defense, ranked 237th in the country, Cincy shot just 32% in the game, and 24% from deep. That’s just ugly. The free-throw shooting was improved (13-18) and they only turned it over eight times, but they have to find a way to generate some offense.

Overall, though, this is a very big win obviously. South Florida, up next.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bump in the road or annual collapse?

If you look at the Mick Cronin Era, it is not hard to spot at least one trend. His Cincinnati teams tend to start hot, and finish poorly. Now the composition of the schedule, with many cupcakes coming early in the season and Big East clashes coming later, undoubtedly has something to do with this. But it is interesting to note, nonetheless:

2006-07: 9-3 start, 2-16 finish
2007-08: 13-12 start, 0-7 finish
2008-09: 10-2 start, 8-12 finish

This year’s team was at one point 10-3, with three very impressive wins over Maryland, Vanderbilt, and Connecticut. Now, just four games later, they site at 11-6, losing games to Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, and St. Johns.

These next two games, home contests against Notre Dame and South Florida, both beatable but tough teams, may play a big role in deciding how this season will finish up. After this short two game home stand, Cincy has a slew of difficult games remaining on the schedule, including at Louisville, at Notre Dame, Syracuse, at UCONN, at South Florida, Marquette, at West Virginia, Villanova, and at Georgetown. Welcome to Big East basketball. There are really no “easy” games remaining, outside of maybe DePaul.