The 112th season of Cincinnati varsity basketball opened in style with an 80-57 win over hapless Tennessee-Martin 80-57 Sunday afternoon. The Bearcats used an early season college basketball staple for the win, they played a team that was much worse than them. Tennessee-Martin was not very good! The Bearcats are good! 1+1 = 2 in this case. But still, it's always good to open the season beating a team like this behind the back of a 33-6 run to open the game.You don't want to open up with a loss like Florida State did. You don't want to have to survive by the skin of your teeth like Providence did. You do want to win by a lot of points and play everyone like Cincinnati did.
Clearly I've run out of things to say, so let's move on to the points I want to make. Let's start right at the top of the box score and work our way down.
After we talk about Mick Cronin that is. The headline for this game is that Mick Cronin moved into 5th place all time at Cincinnati with 114 wins. Congratulations, coach.
Justin Jackson started the game. That was good. He has some bright spots. He dominated the glass with a game high 11 rebounds. He played some of the Justin Jackson defense we all know and love. He threw us a little #JUSTINJACKSONMEANFACE after a fast break dunk. I was impressed with him banking home a 10 footer.
But you could tell this was his first game of the season. He was downright awful with the ball. I say Magic Jackson as joking complisult (compliment/insult) and he was at his best/worst tonight. Twice he got caught in bad positions where he made a bad pass and was benched. He turned the ball over 5 times. Apparently he worked on his 3 point shooting, which made him attempt 1, but he didn't work on his foul shooting much, or didn't pay off, as he went 1-4. You're a junior now, JJ, tough love. What's that? You did this?
I forgive you. #MoneyJackson
Cheikh Mbodj had a nice game in the box score. He went 5-6-4 blocks-1 steal. Gotta say, not that impressed. Call me a Mbodj hater if you must. I'll give him his props for the possession where he blocked 2 shots in a row. His size changed some others. My problem with him is that he doesn't rebound and he's a 0 on offense. 6 in 16 minutes was rather decent. He was just 1-4 from the field and 3-5 at the foul line. If he's not scoring against these bums, what makes you think he's scoring on Gorgui Dieng?
The lineup with Mbodj and Jackson on the floor is a bad one offensively. I want to see Mick play Rubles and Jackson at the 4 and 5 Tuesday night. I think that's your best offensive lineup. I don't know why Mick wouldn't try them on the floor together at all. That was the only coaching misstep I thought he made tonight.
Cashmere Wright is a good shooter. He was 4-7 from 3 and 2-3 from 2 for a 16 point outing. That was a team high as well as game high. He is really confident in his outside shot. He's worked on it and improved it very well. He had more rebounds than assists, 4-3, but that was because guys just missed shots. Cash turned the ball over 3 times. That was first game stuff. Nothing to be worried about. I really think Cash can average 20 a game in the non-conference if he wanted to. He looks like he believes that no point guard can stop him. He may be right.
Sean Kilpatrick didn't really have his shot going tonight. He took 11 shots and 5 free throws to score his 14 points. He was just 1-5 from 3. That's a very minor concern early since he didn't shoot the ball well during the exhibition season. He turned the ball over 3 times. SK did get inside for some layups and a couple of and 1s. I think he would be the first to admit that it was not his day.
JaQuon Parker was very solid. He drilled a couple of 3s and made a couple of free throws. He had 6 rebounds. He had 2 assists, a block and a steal. He turned the ball over twice, but that was about it for his bad parts. It was a typical JaQuon Parker game. You knew he was on the floor, even if he wasn't scoring.
Jeremiah Davis played 13 minutes and boy did he do a lot in 13 minutes. He was 2-5 for 5 points and he had 3 assists. One of his assists was a long outlet pass for a dunk. One think Jeremiah Davis will do is shoot the ball. Shoot the ball he did. His possession percentage is going to be so high this season.
Titus Rubles looked good in his Cincinnati debut. He had a solid 8-7-4 assist line. He didn't have hit shot down, 2-4 at the foul line and he rushed an open 3. He was able to get offensive boards and layups. Like some of the other players, he had a problem with turnovers. He turned it over 3 times, which probably went a long way in limiting him to 16 minutes. Some of that was getting the rust off of Justin Jackson, but Rubles gave Mick excuses for pulling him. Still, a very solid debut. I still want him to start.
The turnovers were one of two issues with the offense. UC turned the ball over 19 times. Jackson, Wright, Kilpatrick, Parker and Rubles turned it over 16. Sloppy start.
The second issue was the foul shooting. Good lord it was awful. The team was 15-27. That's 55.6%. I don't care what game it is, that's flat out unacceptable.
UC was 9-21 from 3. They hit 4-7 the second half. This team can hit the long ball.
Shaquille Thomas scored 3 points in his debut. He was 1-4, 1-2 at the foul line. He had a pretty bad turnover. He looked like he was playing too fast. Thomas will be a much better player later in the season than he will be the first month. Thomas wins the random player of the game picture for this post.
I can't get used to seeing a #3 out there that isn't Dion Dixon. I miss you, best friend.
My dvr cut off the last couple of minutes so I wasn't able to see Alex Eppensteiner in action. The box score says he missed a 3. I'm going to guess it toilet bowled a few times and rolled off, much to the dismay of everyone in attendance.
Here's your assignment Tuesday night, watch Ge'Lawn Guyn play defense. That guy mans up like no one's business. He blocked 2 shots. He's a point guard. Watching him play defense is one of the fun things to do in games like these. I would hate to play against him. Guyn knocked down a 3, had 2 boards and 1 assist in his 17 minutes. There is a still a drop off when Cash leaves the game, but it's not as wide as it was last season. Guyn doesn't have to be Jason Kidd. He just has to run the show and get things set up.
Jermaine Sanders had 3 assists in his 14 minutes. He also had a rebound. Sanders went 0-1 from the field and 1-2 at the foul line. I want him to be more aggressive. Shoot the ball every time. Put Jeremiah Davis' mentality in Sanders and he's a starter. Believe in yourself, Maine.
David Nyarsuk has really impressed me. It's not just the fact that he's 7-1 that has him dominating the lesser competition. He is a smart player. He can move on offense. He can move on defense. He knows what to do on the floor. Nyarsuk was 4-6, 1-1 at the foul line, for 9 points. He had 6 rebounds. He blocked 2 shots. He made a nice cut for a dunk. He threw down an alley oop. The thing he does that I think sets him apart from Mbodj is that Nyarsuk knows when to challenge and when to not challenge defensively. I was worried he would be a stiff. I was wrong.
Terry Nelson and Tommy G aren't a good announce team. Let's be honest with ourselves. We all like Terry Nelson because he was on the 92 Final Four team, people who were born after 1997 probably don't know who he is. They know he's the guy who won't shut the fuck up about chicken fingers and fries and who calls Peyton Siva "Peyton Silva." Tom is a nice guy on twitter. So he has that going for him.
Not one damn replay of the Cashmere Wright behind the back pass to Justin Jackson for the dunk. Both cameras followed Mbodj down the floor. How? How is this even possible?
Even with the Bengals game going on at the same time, 5,700 is a nice crowd. I'm proud of the student section. Now do it for football Saturday.
All photos courtesy of Go Bearcats. The top picture is so bad ass. Good work by Ashley Kempher