Control The Paint
This borders on the excessivly obvious. But for UC to go into the Cintas Center and get a win Yancy Gates must dominate the paint. Gates has usually showed well in the shootout, and his performance in last years game was a master class. But he has yet to really dominate a game this year. He has had a few essentially silent double double nights this year. The Bearcats need Yancy to be loud and assertive from the opening tip.
It is most likely that Yancy will be matched up with Kenny Frease for the majority of the game. Frease, put simply, can not match up with Yancy Gates. He is too slow, uncoordinated and unathletic to keep up with Gates. The recent historical record bears that out too.
|Game||Yancy Gates||Kenny Frease|
|2010-11||22 points (62.5 shooting), 14 boards, 2 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal||8 points (36.4), 7 boards, 2 steals, 1assist|
|2009-10||18 points (50), 6 boards, 2 blocks||9 points (60), 5 rebounds, 3 blocks|
|2008-09||4 points (25), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal||4 points (33.3), 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 block|
This Xavier team is just like last years. They are capible of destroying teams from the perimiter with Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway forming arguably the best back court in the country. But they get very little from their bigs game to game and approach every game assuming that Tu and Lyons will do what they need offensively. UC has to dominate the paint because those two guards are so good that I expect them to have their way on the along the arc.
Control The Tempo
As much as I hate playing this style of Basketball, its what needs to be done to win. Cashmere Wright needs to slow the pace of the game to a crawl. Neither offense is going to look particularly good by approaching the game in this manner, but really that is besides the point. On a posession by posession basis UC is a marginally efficient team on the offensive side of the ball. On efficency terms UC and Xavier are about equal, UC averages 1.004 points per posession, X averages 1.04. Xavier scores about 10 more points per game because they play at a faster pace than UC.
Slowing the pace of the game serves two main purposes. One it limits the number of posessions that Xavier gets. Right now, through seven games, X is averaging a little over 70 posessions per game, 70.9 in case you really wanted to know. If the Bearcats can keep this to a 55 or 60 posession game the margins shift in their favor because UC plays that way, is built to play that way and most of all is comfortable playing that style of game.
The other thing is that slowing the pace of the game will help keep the crowd out of the game. Its hard for those catholics to get jacked up about the game when Cashmere Wright is leaisurly strolling up the court and burning 10 seconds a posession standing around. I hate that style of play but hey, winning is winning.
In every game this year UC has had a least one 5+ minute stretch in each game where the Bearcats effectivly forgot which sport they are playing, the rules to the game and anything else that matters. The results during those stretches are entirely predictable. In the two games UC has lost the Bearcats finished those games with these little moments of sporting amnesia.
It goes without saying that the Bearcats can't fall into that trap against Xavier. It is going to take nothing less than the best 40 minutes of Basketball this team has played in nearly a calander year to walk out of the Cintas Center with the first road win in the series since 2001 and the Bearcats first back to back shootout wins since the 1995 and 1996 editions.