Cincinnati kicked off the 2013-14 basketball season with a 77-63 exhibition game victory against Carleton. The score doesn't matter as much as how the squad looked. They looked pretty solid. It was the first game of the season, so there were a lot of things that need fixing. Let's run them down with the C paws.
Hard to get too great a read on the offense. There was a clear emphasis by Mick to pound the ball inside on the smaller Carleton. Cincinnati attempted 59 shots, 50 were 2 pointers. They got to the line 29 times. The offense is more about getting the ball inside, get it inside they did. 14 offensive rebounds was nice. 38 of the 77 points were in the paint.
UC had the same problem as last year in regards to missing a ton of put backs and layups. They had to have missed 10 shots within 5 feet. They only had 5 second chance points. Considering they grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, that's not very good.
UC was also pretty poor at the free throw line. They were 19-29, 65.5%. Sean Kilpatrick went 7-9, which means the rest of the team was not good, 12-20. Guyn, Jackson and Lawrence were all 2-4. Caupain was 1-2. Too many shooters to be that poor at the stripe a second year in a row.
Cincinnati turned the ball over 10 times. That was pretty damn good for an opener. Kilpatrick turned it over 3 times. If he's the one being sloppiest with the ball, you don't have to worry much.
12 assists to 10 turnovers isn't great. 12 assists on 27 made field goals isn't ideal either. With a lot of penetrating, that hurts the assist totals.
I thought the defense was pretty damn good after a shaky start. They started the game getting out slow on the Carleton shooters and saw four 3s fall. They were 4-4 to start. They finished 7-23. Obviously you would like to see the opponent not attempt that many 3s, but Cincinnati defended well. I didn't really like what I saw in terms of giving up corner looks. I'm sure Mick won't either.
UC forced 13 turnovers and turned them into 16 points. 10 fast break points. That works.
The Cats gave up 13 offensive rebounds and were doubled up on second chance points. Carleton didn't have any trouble, or qualms, about getting into the lane. Interior defense is going to be a key with no true big man. There are things to work on.
Let's talk about the players.
Justin Jackson played one of the best games he ever has. He looks a lot different, he's bulked up. He wore a headband. More importantly, he was aggressive, he played smart, he stayed on the floor and he put it all together. This is only one game against a team with no big, yes, but Jackson showed he's turned a corner.
He put up 14 points on 6-11, 7 rebounds, 3 offensive, blocked 5 shots, had a steal and an assist. More importantly, 1 foul, 0 turnovers. Jackson was talked up a lot by Mick recently. He lived up to it and more. He was the most impressive player on the court.
Sean Kilpatrick had a game high 20 points on 6-16, 1-3 from 3, 7-9 from the foul line. He added 4 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals. It took Killa a little while to get things going, but once he did, he was pretty much unstoppable. He's still Sean Kilpatrick and he's still the best. The play he made after missing the shot and hauling ass to poke the ball away from the Carleton player at the foul line was great hustle.
Ge'Lawn Guyn started at point. He played 21 minutes. He could have played more, but he had 3 fouls. The hand check really bothered him. He put up a 4 point, 3 rebound line. He had 0 assists and 1 turnover. Guyn was 1-2 from the field and 2-4 at the stripe. It wasn't his most impressive effort.
Very solid performance by Titus Rubles. He put up 10-6-2 assists with a steal and a highlight block. He had a problem with fouls last year and he had a problem with fouls today. He was held to 24 minutes because of 4 of them. If Titus Rubles is going to be efficient from the field, he's going to be a breakout player this season. No two ways about it.
Really liked what we saw from Shaquille Thomas. He scored 11 on 5-7, 1-1 FTs, with 7 rebounds. He did have 2 turnovers and did end up getting yanked for being out of position on rebounds or defense. He was a very quick hook early in the game. What you want from Thomas is explosive offense. He showed that off. Shaq busted out a pro type move in the lane that was unstoppable. I can't really describe it. It was good though. Great end to this paragraph.
Jermaine Sanders was the first man off the bench. He played 20 minutes with 3 points. He was 1-4 from the field, 1-1 from 3. He had a rebound and an assist. Sanders was aggressive with his shot, which is something I talked about ad nauseam last season. His jumper is damn good.
The freshman who played the most minutes was Troy Caupain and he looked sharp enough. His only offense was a steal, layup and a foul for 3 points. He had 2 steals. 1 assist to 2 turnovers. It was his first game, his first time running the offense. He did some good things, he did some bad things. I don't think he's going to start any time soon. Sorry to throw water on that fire if you were hoping.
Kevin Johnson also ran some point. He put up 3 assists to 0 turnovers. He finished with 3 points. Johnson was not shy with his shot, going 1-5, 1-3 from 3. He and Sanders were the only ones who didn't get to the line that played significant minutes. I liked Johnson's aggression. Maybe he was a little too hyped and rushed some shots.
The most hyped freshman was Jermaine Lawrence. Maybe he was feeling the pressure or something because he didn't play his best. He fouled out in 10 minutes. He scored 2 points, both on free throws. As mentioned earlier, he was 2-4 at the line. He was 0-1 from the field. He had an assist and a steal. He certainly filled up the box score. But he didn't look ready, at least not on this day. There was some hope, like by me, that he would start from day 1. That doesn't seem realistic. He's got many games to be awesome though.
Big Dave Nyarsuk scored 4 points with 5 rebounds. He played just 9 minutes. He was 2-2 from the line, but 1-4 from the field. He scored his only basket by being very tall and having Caupain drop him a pass.
Jeremiah Davis III played 4 minutes. He made a 3 followed by picking a pocket for a steal. He would turn his back and pick up his dribble in the lane, though, which was odd. He didn't play after that. He doesn't figure to be a part of the rotation.
Deshaun Morman did not play.
Walk on Zack Tobler also did not play.
Bearcat basketball is back, baby!