The basketball season starts tomorrow night as Cincinnati plays host to North Carolina Central. It's the start of 4 straight games against teams from North Carolina. North Carolina State, Appalachian State and Campbell follow. That kind of fun fact that isn't fun or necessarily a fact is what you have to look forward to in this post, as we get to know everything about the 2013-14 Cincinnati Bearcats.
0 – Jeremiah Davis III (Soph.)
2 – Titus Rubles (Sr.)
3 – Shaquille Thomas (Soph.)
5 – Justin Jackson (Sr.)
14 – Ge'Lawn Guyn (Jr.)
15 – Jermaine Sanders (Jr.)
23 – Sean Kilpatrick (Sr.)
33 – David Nyarsuk (Sr.)
1 – Deshaun Morman (Fr.)
10 – Troy Caupain (Fr.)
11 – Jermaine Lawrence (Fr.)
25 – Kevin Johnson (Fr.)
45 – Kevin Tobler (Fr.)
Jamaree Strickland (Fr.)
G – Ge'Lawn Guyn
G – Sean Kilpatrick
F – Shaquille Thomas
F – Titus Rubles
F – Justin Jackson
F – Jermaine Sanders
G – Troy Caupain
F – Jermaine Lawrence
G – Kevin Johnson
C – David Nyarsuk
G – Deshaun Morman
G- Jeremiah Davis
F – Zack Tobler
Bearcats Blog Bearcat Awards (aka an excuse to talk about everyone)
Team MVP: Sean Kilpatrick
No two ways about it, Sean Kilpatrick is the man this season. He's the face of the program. He's the star player. He's got the spotlight. He's the one chasing Cincinnati records and the most likely to have their number put in the rafters one day.
Kilpatrick is coming off a season where his offense took a dip because his 3 point percentage dropped from 37.6% to 30.7%. He was able to make up for it some by getting to the line a career best 145 times. We know Kilpatrick will shoot. He was 25th in the NCAA in field goal attempts, 11th in 3s. Just going off what we saw in the preseason, his 3s may come down a little bit. He hasn't been as trigger happy. It's only the exhibition season though.
Kilpatrick averaged 17 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.2 steals a game last year. I'm looking for modest bumps in scoring, 18 points, rebounds, 5.5, and assists, 2.3, while the steals remain basically the same. I am going to throw out this little prediction, he has four games where he scores 30 points. SK had 2 last year, Marquette and Iowa State.
Most Improved: Justin Jackson
If you haven't seen either exhibition game or read anything about them, be prepared to see a completely different Justin Jackson tomorrow. Jackson put up 14-7-5 blocks followed by 19-9-3 blocks. He did it on 14-21 shooting from the field. He was 5-12 at the foul line, so his offensive game has some areas to improve upon.
The most important thing Jackson did was play 32 minutes in each of those games. He didn't play 30 minutes at all last year. He's only played over 30 minutes four times in his career. The last time was against Pittsburgh when Yancy Gates was suspended. One of the other games was also when Gates was not playing. Jackson averaged under 19 minutes a game last year. If he can get back to hitting 50% from the field, he could have a monster season.
I'm projecting 9 points, 9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1 steal for Justin Jackson this season. I'm all the hell in on him. All because of the headband.
Most Improved Field Goal Percentage: Titus Rubles
Saying Titus Rubles couldn't hit the broad side of a horses ass last season would be a weird thing to say. It would also be accurate. He was a 33.8% shooter. He was a gasp out loud every time he attempted a 3 pointer 4-43 behind the arc. If you take out the 3s, he was still 40%, which is really bad. He was an alright 66% at the foul line, however. Getting shots to consistently fall is very hard. Rubles only had 4 games, no matter how many attempts, where he shot at least 50% from December 1 on. Titus had 4 in November.
The key for him is consistency. If he can go 4-9 every night, that's a marked improvement. That's something everyone could live with. He should probably cut the 3 pointers down a whole lot. He should also not shoot the one foot on the 3 point line shot that he mastered last year. Worst shot in basketball and he never seemed to miss it. That's kind of weird when you think about it.
The rest of Rubles' game was fine outside of cutting down on the turnovers some. He averaged a team best 5.9 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.1 steals. Someone's scoring has to balloon and I think Rubles is the man to do that. I'm going 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal a game.
Most Likely to Randomly Be in Foul Trouble: Ge'Lawn Guyn
I love that Ge'Lawn Guyn gets after it defensively. It's his best trait in my book. One of the things that happens with Guyn is that he gets a little too aggressive. Do you know how many games he had with at least 3 fouls last year? Eight. Eight games with three fouls. A quarter of the games he had three fouls. He only played 10 minutes too! The new hand check rule has been widely talked about. It could affect Guyn some. His hard nose defense will probably get a lot more called on him. He's been whistled for 80 fouls during his UC career.
There is probably going to be a point guard timeshare all season. Mick should ride the hot hand. Guyn will probably get around 20 minutes a game. He hasn't shown anything offensively outside of an 11 point, 7 assist game against Chicago State his freshman year. He's averaged 2.4 points and 2.2 points. Add them together and it's roughly 5 points, which I think his scoring average will be. I'll throw 2.4 assists and 0.8 steals on there as well.
Breakout Candidate: Shaquille Thomas
The hype behind Shaquille Thomas is very much justified. He had a national coming out party with 12 points on 6-9 shooting in the NCAA tournament. That followed an 8 rebound game in the Big East tournament and some late season heroics in a losing effort against Providence. Thomas has all of the skills to hang 12-14 points a game this season. I don't think anyone would be surprised if he went 12-6 every night. He is uber talented. More than that, he's really learned the game and improved his body by adding some muscle.
The only thing keeping me from throwing 12-6 down as my prediction for him is consistency. He would flash some potential, 11 and 8 point games in December, followed by 10 points the next five games total after that. Some of that was with yo-yo playing time, but some of it is because he hasn't found a way to do it every night yet. His defense is also a bit of an issue. Mick has wasted no time in going to the bench.
That's not enough to keep me from expecting some big outings from Shaquille. I'm going with 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.7 steals a game. He'll score 20 in one of the first five games of the season or your money back.
Sweetest Jump Shot: Jermaine Sanders
My love for Jermaine Sanders' jump shot knows no bounds. It almost always looks good, even though it almost always has not been. Sanders was just 13-48 from 3 last year. He hit 38-103, which crude math suggests is bad. He is somehow a 50% foul shooter over the course of his career. I always want him to shoot more, but maybe he knows what he's doing. Because he hasn't exactly been the best at shooting.
One thing he always does, at least in the photos, is turn his body sideways on layups.
That's proper form. I'm not expecting huge things from Sanders. He's a solid defender. He's a solid rebounder. He'll get guys involved, he won't turn it over much. He's a key rotation player. I do look for the gradual progression. 1.7 to 3.1 to 4.7 points, with 3 rebounds, and around an assist seems about right.
Freshman We Can't Wait to See: Jermaine Lawrence
Jermaine Lawrence was a consensus 5 star recruit who was ranked inside the top 26 by every service. He's one of the best recruits Cronin has ever brought in. Lawrence didn't get off to a great start against Carleton, but flashed some of his skills with 10 points in 22 minutes against Bellarmine. It looks like free throw shooting might be a bit of an issue, 6-11 in exhibition play. Hell, that's an issue for every big man right now. That's not confined to just Lawrence. I can't wait to see what he does on the floor tomorrow night.
I'm going to guess 6 points, 2.3 rebounds for Lawrence this year. Going conservative.
The Twitter 'This Guy Should Play More' Award: Troy Caupain
Troy Caupain is a freshman guard. He's played 15 minutes a game in the exhibition season. He's expected to battle Guyn for the point guard spot. He actually played more shooting guard in high school, although he was his high school's career leader in assists. He's also that high school's leader in rebounds. Caupain also shares a birthday with my cousin Jennifer.
I'm not really sure what to expect from Troy, but I do know that everyone loves the shiny, new guard to come in and play where there is no set guard. The potential of Caupain seems greater than what we've seen of Guyn. I'm projecting 4 points, 1.3 assists, 1 rebound for Caupain, but I'm open to the idea of him playing more and earning a solid spot by January. I like shiny, new things too.
Will Probably Become Your (My) New Favorite Player: Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson did many things during the exhibition season. He shot a lot 1-8, 1-5 from 3, raised hell on defense with 2 steals, fouled a lot, 5 fouls, and dropped 3 dimes. All of this in about 12 minutes a game. When Kevin Johnson is on the floor, things are going to happen. He's going to have a game when he makes all of his shots and we (I) will fall in love with him and want him to play forever. The up and down system that Cronin looks to mix in should do wonders for the freshman from Summit Country Day.
Projection wise, 2 points, 1.2 steals a game, 0.6 assists.
Tallest Guy on the Team: David Nyarsuk
Big Dave barely played in the exhibition season. There was really no point for him to. He averaged 11 minutes, 2.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks last year. Know what? I'm just going to roll that out again. I can't see any of that changing. He could have big numbers against the small teams. He probably won't play as much against anyone good. He doesn't really fit in the pressing system that well it seems. But he is tall.
Wildcard: Deshaun Morman
I have no idea what to expect from Morman this season. He didn't play the first exhibition game and only saw a couple minutes in game two. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't play this season. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if he was hurt or something and worked his way in to 7 minutes a game. I really don't know what to look for. He put up 14 – 7 assists – 6 boards – 2.4 steals in high school. I'm going to guess 1 point per game if he plays. I really don't know about him.
Will Fill Up the Stat Sheet In No Time: Jeremiah Davis
The key to this phrase is no time. Davis seems like the last guard off the bench. He played 11 exhibition minutes. He didn't play much as a freshman and only saw garbage time last year before he was injured. In the 11 minutes though, he scored 7 points on 3-4 shooting with 2 steals, 1 board, 1 turnover and 1 foul. He's not a great defender and not really careful with the ball, 20 turnovers to 19 career assists. He's going to shoot. No matter the Morman situation, I'm throwing out 2 points for him.
Most Likely to Receive a Chant Tomorrow Night: Zack Tobler
The walk on from Covington Catholic will probably have the fans chant his name so he can get in there. He's 6'5, not the normal guard UC has been throwing out there. I hope that he scores his first game. Take the pressure off.
By the way, the points added up to 68 or 67. That seems like a proper point total.
Inside the Schedule
Ken Pom: 45
Non-Conference Ken Pom Ratings (351 teams)
- New Mexico – 17
- Pittsburgh – 20
- Xavier – 57
- NC State – 72
- Middle Tennessee St – 109
- Nebraska -123
- USC Upstate – 129
- Appalachian St – 230
- NC Central – 242
- Campbell – 292
- Chicago St – 309
- Mass. Lowell – 323
- Kennesaw St – 332
American Ken Pom Ratings
- Louisville – 1
- Connecticut – 11
- Memphis – 16
- Cincinnati – 45
- SMU -76
- Temple -88
- Rutgers – 107
- South Florida – 111
- UCF – 115
- Houston – 190
Toughest Non-Conference Stretch
December 3-14: at New Mexico, Xavier (Neutral), Pittsburgh (Madison Square Garden)
Toughest Conference Stretch
February 22 – March 6: Louisville, at Connecticut, Memphis
Sean Kilpatrick Milestone Counter
Career scoring rank: 16
Points need for 15th: 7
Points needed to reach 2,000: 556
Chasing Vaughn's 3 point record of 313: 220
For the top 5: 38
If Cincinnati plays in 34 games, considering Kilpatrick plays them all, he would pass Cashmere Wright for the most games played as a Bearcat.
He's played 106 consecutive games. Keith Gregor holds the record at 125. Kilpatrick would pass him February 15 at home against Houston.
At his current pace, Sean Kilpatrick would play 4,322 minutes. He would have played the most minutes in Cincinnati history. He would join Deonta Vaughn as the only Bearcats to play 4,000 minutes.
Mick Cronin Wins Countdown
Mick Cronin has 135 wins at Cincinnati. He needs 22 to pass George Smith for the second most all time. Bob Huggins famously has 399. Mick won't get that this year.
Countdown to 155: 20
Season Record Prediction
This is already long, so let's do it game by game to close the preview.
- North Carolina Central – W 1-0
- North Carolina State – W 2-0
- Appalachian State – W 3-0
- Campbell – W 4-0
- UMass Lowell – W 5-0
- Kennesaw St – W 6-0
- USC Upstate – W 7-0
- @ New Mexico – L 7-1
- vs Xavier – W 8-1
- vs Pittsburgh – L 8-2
- Middle Tennessee – W 9-2
- Chicago State – W 10-2
- Nebraska – W 11-2
- Southern Methodist – W 12-2 (1-0)
- @ Memphis – L 12-3 (1-1)
- @ Houston – W 13-3 (2-1)
- Rutgers – W 14-3 (3-1)
- Temple – W 15-3 (4-1)
- @ South Florida – L 15-4 (4-2)
- UCF – W 16-4 (5-2)
- @ Temple – W 17-4 (6-2)
- @ Louisville – L 17-5 (6-3)
- South Florida – W 18-5 (7-3)
- Connecticut – W 19-5 (8-3)
- @ Southern Methodist – L 19-6 (8-4)
- Houston – W 20-6 (9-4)
- @ UCF – W 21-6 (10-4)
- Louisville – L 21-7 (10-5)
- @ Connecticut – L 21-8 (10-6)
- Memphis – L 21-9 (10-7)
- @ Rutgers – W 22-9 (11-7)
All photos courtesy of Go Bearcats.