Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE
Jermaine Sanders and Shaquille Thomas. Two New York born and bread wings who were supposed to come in and provide scoring punch right off the mark. That was the theory, but it didn't quite come off. Thomas was held out, then red shirted because of his transcript, and Sanders hardly resembled the player of the year in Manhattan. Sanders enters 2012-13 with a new look, and game fitting the Bearcats new run and gun style.
It wasn't exactly his fault. A lot of the freshmen last year prepared their bodies, and their games, for a system that was predicated on pounding the rock inside to Yancy Gates, playing defense and generally being more physical than the opponent. Then the fight happened, and everything changed.
The change in style worked for the team in general, and several players in particular, Sanders was not among them. To prep for the rigors of the Big East, and Cronin's defensive tenor Sanders put on weight and muscle, and when the approach changed, on a dime, he was not physically prepared.
Sanders only played a little under 9 minutes a game, far less than I expected coming into the season. When he did play Sanders did show a pretty nuanced game, particularly on offense as he was comfortable getting to the rim and finishing and stepping out to the three point line. That inside, outside game should work well with the Bearcats offensive approach. But that is still just a theory.
In the Grand Valley State game Sanders looked like a completely different player. He had a decent line in the game with 5 points on 2 of 5 shooting in 15 minutes of play. If Sanders, and Thomas, play to their talent level the scoring punch off the bench will be a major asset to Mick Cronin this year. Its the one thing last years team, for all its virtues, didn't really have.