The kinks are still being worked out, that much is for sure. But the new style of play that Mick Cronin has gone to without basically all his posts is doing the trick. Just watching the offense looks vibrant, and creative. There are no more 5 minute spells without a field goal and Bearcats Basketball is basically fun to watch once again. But the really reason this is going so well is that UC's roster isn't built to play the post orientated style that has been the calling card. Last year it was, this year it isn't. This year you have a trioka of guards that are all at their best in attack mode. But with the previously glacial pace of play those chances were few and far between. But with the new look attack the Bearcats are getting far more good shots, and they are coming much easier than they had been for most of the season. Take a look at the four factors for yesterdays game.
The only area where Radford really beat the Bearcats was on the offensive glass where they were +11. Radford was also +4 in the rebounding margin. The offensive boards angle is interesting because they shot the ball so poorly that there were a ton of rebounds on offer. The Highlanders saw fit to try and grab every one, but they paid a steep price for their commitment to the offensive boards. They sent at least three guys to the offensive glass on each miss, often times 4. That approach did generate a ton of extra possessions in the course of a game. But when UC did get the rebound all it took was a quick outlet pass for UC to be running a 3 on 1 or a 4 on 2 fast break. The Highlanders simply couldn't cope with the speed on the break of the Bearcats and UC does have a bevy of players who are very, very good on the break. The Bearcats effectively put the game away in the first half by pushing it hard on the break.
The guy who is really making this work, on both ends of the floor, is JaQuon Parker. I feel pretty confident that he is the only 6'3" guard in the country who is playing as a Power Forward at the moment. Regardless it is really working because he has a good understanding of the game and is a very good defender without being the best athlete. He went for 9 and 9 yesterday with 3 assists to boot. He's becoming a bit like Rashad Bishop on the offensive end because nothing is flashy, its all basic fundamental Basketball. But at the end of the day you look at the stat sheet and wonder when he scored 9 points.
Parker has been a big beneficiary of the new offensive approach, but no one is happier about it than Cashmere Wright. Cash was out of his mind yesterday, and so was his statline. 25 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists 2 steals and zero turnovers in 27 minutes of work. And this came on the heels of a 12, 4, 8, 3 line against the Raiders. Cash is clearly at his best playing this style of Basketball. The man is in his element.
Lastly lets talk about the defense which was surprisingly good for giving up 70 points. As discussed above the pace of the last two games has been much quicker in the last to games than it has been for most of the season. A higher pace means more possessions and more shots so obviously more points. Playing with that kind of pace puts more pressure on the defense than the offense and I think that UC played a really good defensive game. As a general rule anytime you can hold an opposing offense to an effective FG% of under 45 its a good thing. Radfords eFG% was 44 yesterday.
Just for fun here is UC's impact chart from yesterdays game