Well it is time to make this post. Basketball is starting, teams around the country have started practice and the first real game is just about a month away, the exhibitions begin at the end of the month, well actually the first of next month but that is beside the point. It is very strange indeed for the Basketball team to be at the point where the start of the season is, if not an outright afterthought, clearly subservient to the interest and performance of the Football team, let alone a at this point average Football team. That's where its at.
Very few people are truly excited for this coming Basketball season, and there isn't much to be excited about for UC. The Big East remains a bit of a bitch to play in, and the roster this year doesn't seem any more equipped to handle the pounding than last years.
There is no Lance Stephenson and no Deonta Vaughn, the two independent engines of the team. There is no real buzz or excitement to see anyone on this team. I am intrigued by what is being said about Sean Killpatrick, it's hard not to be intrigued by a guy basically starts a youtube channel of himself during his redshirt season, when very few people actually knew who he was. I liked him when he signed with UC, I like his offensive game, but I don't know how well he will handle having the offense run around him, and it will in the end. That brings me nicely to my next point.
Most of the talk about Basketball to this point has been about a renewed vigor with Yancy Gates. Though I don't know how you can really slide "renewed" next to "vigor" in a sentence about Yancy Gates and make it work. There are hundreds of adjectives that can be easily used to describe Gates like talented, physically gifted and immense, but vigorous has never really been in that selection set. I want to see that kind of fire in Yancy, I really do. That is pretty much the only way he will ever manage to harness his talent and make it work for him, which is something that all UC fans should want to see happen. But until it manifests itself on the court I will remain skeptical.
That's UC Basketball right now. The majority of the fanbase has yet to buy into Yancy Gates, and when your best, most talented player has a hard time getting the fans to buy into him personally the bar of expectations is lowered by quite a few notches. Part of that is Yancy, he is one of the most frustrating Bearcats to watch since, I don't know Jihad Muhammad, but even with Jihad you could embrace the unintentional comedy of his playing style. There is no comedy in watching Yancy Gates. There are flashes of talent and skill that are so tantalizing that they can hold you over through the terrible in between times.
but it's time for more than flashes, its time to sustain that.
The same goes for Mick Cronin, his teams have had moments, the performance in Maui last year for example. But the hallmark of his teams, in my mind at least has been lackluster execution and strategy down the stretch in close games. The St. John's game from last year might just be the quintessential Mick Cronin experience.
I get that he had a rough start, there was basically no recruiting done between the end of Huggins and the start of the Cronin era. There was a mass exodus of donors after the Huggins kerfuffle. He had a deck stacked decidedly against him from the minute he walked in the door. All things considered his high water mark of 19 wins last season isn't terrible. But most of the obstacles that were in his way when he got here are gone. He might still be playing with a stacked deck, but this time it is a deck he stacked himself. This is year number five of the Cronin era, and the mentality for him should be NCAA or bust. I don't see how it won't be the last one without a trip to the first round.