We have dealt with J-Mart in the past and have not had the best success of late. Martin's career high 17-points came against UC this year. You remember, we all looked at each other after that game and thought... oh crap (Then we went on a winning rampage). Martin went on to beat that career high numerous times with most notably putting up 19 points with 16 rebounds against Creighton and 20 points against Villanova.
I know I know... why am I bragging about this guy? Let me explain...
A storm has been brewing in the AAC and Larry Brown looks like Zeus at this point. With Louisville leaving the AAC, it appeared to be a three team top-heavy league between UC, Memphis, and defending champs UCONN - with little old SMU being the awkward team not in that top group, but not necessarily a bottom feeder. By adding Justin Martin, it appears the boys down South want in on the race for a conference title.
The Big 12 is a most likely future destination for the Bearcats, with the ACC and B1G as possible, but less likely options as well. But for now, we aren't leaving the AAC anytime soon. We need this group of teams to be better at basketball and football, and SMU is helping with the basketball side of things.
The Mustangs are already bringing in Emmanuel Mudiay this year, who is ranked somewhere in the top 5 of his class depending on what ranking system you look at. Next season SMU already has commits from ESPN #53 Matt McQuaid and Californian PG Sedrick Barefield. Now they add veteran Justin Martin, and you have a threatening team.
This i great. I am now excited to watch the bearcats play UCONN, Memphis, AND SMU. Granted, I think Temple will get in that group eventually, but has had a down couple of years (9-22 last year). I'm not scared of another giant in the AAC. I see SMU growing up and I say bring it. I can see the big four in this league in and out of the Top 25 all season this year, and that kind of national coverage will be critical to propel UC to the next level.
I don't want to easily go undefeated in the AAC. We need to play teams good enough to beat us, and it looks like next year there will be at least three (Memphis, UCONN, and SMU). Cronin is putting together a tough out of conference schedule as well; including @ Nebraska, @ NCState, SDSU, Xavier, and VCU, so it is shaping up to be a fun year.
Congrats to SMU on the big news. Victory for the Bearcats will now be all that much sweeter.
-Daniele "Da" Bologna