Last nights game has been painted different things. As a start to a new era, a reset for the season or any number of other labels have been attached. I am not that interested in the narrative. Like most people I took in the fight, dwelt on it for a while but I then moved on. That is probably true of most in Bearcat Nation, the three days of having the fight pounded into our collective skulls was tough to deal with. The chance to simply watch Basketball again was a bit of a relief. Whats more UC unleashed a style of offense that hasn't been witnessed in these parts all that often. And they did it against a pretty darn good defensive team in Wright State. The box score tells a pretty interesting story.
The only area where UC struggled was getting to the line, which has been an issue for most of the year, and parts of the last three years or so. What really blew me away was just how quickly the Bearcats jumped on the raiders and obliterated their defense with quality shooting. For the first time all season UC topped 60 per cent for effective field goal percentage. For the season the Bearcats eFG% has been just a touch over 48. That hot shooting allowed UC to but the game to bed really early.
Whats more I was really impressed with Cashmere Wright last night. The word around the team is that since the fight Cash has basically taken over ownership of the team in terms of being the leader and the tone setter. I had a hunch that he would have a good day last night, and did he ever. He shot the ball very well from the field (.50), but not from the three (.28). He was effective as a scorer, but he really did a fantastic job of getting his shooters in positions to make shots. His 2.7 assist to turnover ratio was his best effort since posting a 10 assist zero turnover game against Marshall. Cash's knees are clearly still a factor in his game, he just isn't the shooter he was last year, but he is learning to be effective without scoring a ton. His 126 offensive rating was actually third among starters, Sean Kilpatrick led the way followed by Justin Jackson of all people, but he had a huge role in the win.
The other guy that I want to highlight is Jaquan Parker who had a wail of a game in just his second outing of the year. In the postgame I talked about my fondness for the four guard look that UC showed last night. What really made that work was Parker. He was simply everywhere in his false Power Forward role. He hit the offensive glass, the hit the defensive glass, he passed well and his 74.2 true shooting percentage was second only to Jermaine Sanders perfect night. He got a couple garbage buckets, hit a three and worked the mid range game a bit. He turned the ball over three times, which is a bit much for someone playing limited time, but given his rust thats not unexpected. Parker should be a much needed source of versatility for the Bearcats going forward.
Finally I want to talk about the defense a bit. I shouldn't be a bit surprising that the defense was a little bit off. UC was missing Yancy Gates who is a better than average defender and Cheikh Mbodj who is a really talented defender. More than that the UC defense is built to funnel plays into the lane and to contest the three point line. Going with a four guard lineup negates both of those ideas. When there is only one post defender it doesn't make a ton of sense to play the kind of aggressive man to man that has become Mick Cronin's calling card. Even more than that WSU employed AJ Pacher who is a stretch Center which brought his man, often Justin Jackson or Kelvin Gaines out to the perimeter which left the lane wide open for most of the game. I wasn't a vintage defensive performance, but the offensive fireworks more than made up for that.