At this team's core, they were challenged. We knew it. We saw it all too many times. They just struggled to score over and over and over again. But we were convinced heart, effort, and defense could get them through. And again, here we are kicking ourselves for believing in Santa Claus.
But, I'm not here to bury this team. I'd like to remember them for their overachievement this season. I'd like to remember them for lifting our spirits up through this long and awful winter. There were no expectations for this team. They were left for DEAD after the loss to Xavier. After last season's uninspiring journey, this team brought our hopes back up and it was so much fun. I think everyone struggles to point out a high water mark for last year's team (Xavier win?), but I would bet it would almost be unanimous that the win at Louisville was this year's. And it was awesome. It got us actually thinking UC could make a serious run at the Final Four. Why not??
Well, because they're challenged, that's why. At least on the offensive side. We knew it. We looked past it. Justin Jackson was your #2 scoring option. Good lord. Sadly no one else could step up with consistency. And that's where they failed.
But for a two month stretch it was as fun watching UC basketball as you could imagine. Well, at least until they get back to the Final Four. And they WILL under Mick. I promise you they will. He won't ever quit. Every rock will be flipped over to find players worthy of being Bearcats. The future is very very bright. There's a lot of talent still on the roster. There's a crapload of talent coming. We'll do post about next year in a few weeks but the roster looks something like this:
Troy Caupain - sophomore
Kevin Johnson - sophomore
Deshaun Morman - RS freshman
- Ge'Lawn Guyn - senior
Jermaine Sanders - senior
Shaquille Thomas - junior
Jermaine Lawrence - sophomore
Jamaree Strickland - RS freshman center
- Coreantae DeBerry - junior (JUCO) center
- Quadri Moore - freshman center
- Gary Clark - freshman forward
- 2 open spots for a scorer, transfer, 5th year senior transfer, you name it.
There are already a lot of rumors and names out there, so be prepared. There could be a lot of movement with this roster.
Back to this team. Sure we're all disappointed in how it ended. But let's not keep that from appreciating what they did this year.
- AAC regular season co-Champion
- Top 10 ranking
- highest NCAA Tourney seed under Mick
- 15 game winning streak that included national TV wins over Pittsburgh (MSG), at Memphis, and at Louisville. Nothing to sneeze at.
- 3 consecutive sellouts at Fifth Third to end the season (major accomplishment)
- Sean Kilpatrick joining Oscar Robertson as the ONLY 2,000 point scorers in UC basketball history
- Mick Cronin AAC Coach of the Year...for a team picked 4th in the preseason poll
- Justin Jackson AAC Defensive Player of the Year
- SK first team All-American
For this season to be called a failure because of one loss is ridiculous. But that's just my take and you can disagree if you want. Just please don't engage and try to convince me otherwise.
That's all for now, my friends and fellow Bearcats. I'm off to Vegas to try and forget about everything for a while.