Yes, he did indeed say "Bearcats 102". Six days after scoring a whopping 44 points in an entire game (a win nonetheless), your UC Bearcats men's basketball squad scored eclipsed the century mark for the first (and quite possibly only) time this season. Led by seven - SEVEN!!!!!! - in double figures the Bearcats imposed their will and basically did anything and everything they could on the floor last night. We obviously don't get too many games like this one, but I can't imagine anyone not enjoying that outburst.
I'm not even going into the likes and dislikes. There wasn't much to dislike so in the spirit of Christmas let's just keep it all positive.
Not only did 7 players scores in doubles, but three Bearcats had double-doubles. When you grab 69 rebounds and score 102 points, there are going to be some records set. And that's exactly what happened last night. The +48 rebound margin set a school record and even more astoundingly Chicago State did not grab ONE individual offensive rebound in the entire 40 minutes. Defensive rebounding has been a problem thus far for this team, but at least for one night they cleaned, spit-shined, polished, whatever other synonym you'd like to use for cleaning - the glass.
As good as Justin Jackson was last night - and yes he was spectacular - my individual player of the game goes to Jermaine Sanders who looked like a completely different Jermaine Sanders out there last night. Playing with confidence, he made shots from everywhere and even grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, 11 in the first half alone. That is the guy we thought/hoped we were getting when he signed out of Far Rockaway, New York three years ago. His jumper looked much quicker than it had of late when he seemed to take a day and a half to get his shot off. He crashed the offensive glass to the tune of 9 rebounds leading to many, many second chance points for the Bearcats. Shaq Thomas has the natural ability - and let's be honest there is no comparison athletically - but Sanders looks more the part of a starter than Thomas...right now.
Justin Jackson was very good again. I hope by the end of this season I'm able to make apologies to him for the constant criticism of his overall game. He's been very good for the majority of the season. I still wish he'd get rid of that bank shot because, well, it's just not working out. But, he's getting his points where he should by crashing the glass and getting easy putbacks and dunks. That's his game and that's how he can help this team excel.
Who wasn't good last night? Oh yeah, Teddy Valentine. But we already knew that.
Back to the Bearcats. In addition to Kilpatrick (we've talked so much about him in his career, let's give him a night off), Sanders, and Jackson in double figures, Shaq Thomas, Kevin Johnson, Troy Caupain, and even Ge' Lawn Guyn was able to get into doubles. Shaq Thomas has a tendency to disappear. He gets down on himself. Much like Jermaine Sanders, you can tell when he's not feeling it. He drags his head. It's disappointing no doubt. I'll scream this until he's exhausted his eligibility but he's the most talented guy on the court, at least for UC. He oozes athleticism. All he has to do is keep playing. He did that in the second half, making shots from a lot of different spots and finding his way to the free throw line 7 times. We need to see a LOT more of this.
Got a text last night after the game and it said "Rubles didn't score?? They scored 102 and he got nothing?!?!?" Well yeah, but if you look at the box score you'll understand how unselfish Titus Rubles really is. No he's not a great offensive threat. But look at the rest. Only took 3 shots. Grabbed 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals, 0 turnovers in 25 minutes. Titus will be the last person you'd ever call selfish. He was elected a captain for a reason. And when you need something done (aside from scoring) Titus is likely your go-to guy. When your team is scoring 102 and you take 3 shots, that's awfully impressive. How often have you seen guys chase points to pad their stats? That's in the JaQuon Parker "glue guy" mold.
What else? Oh yeah 25 assists on 37 baskets. They were really working the ball last night. Now obviously Chicago State cared less about defense than I do about Xavier, but still I'll go back to the fact that in a blowout they weren't selfish. They didn't try to "get mine" and dribble through the entire defense to get on SportsCenter (as if they'd show a highlight from a UC game).
I think that wraps up the pre-Christmas portion of things. Very nice to see last night's explosion. Hopefully there's more like that to come. Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and we all get some Bearcats gear!