The dial-tone sounded. It was Monday afternoon, and "Seg" Dennison was right in the middle of his Stooge Report with Bill Cunningham on the 50,000 watt Cincinnati radio station, 700WLW.
The phone rang. A slight pause came over the air as Seg realized Cunningham was calling someone live on the radio. Dennison had just finished giving highlights of Monday's new NCAA Top 25 men's basketball poll, and this wasn't the first time Cunningham had tried to phone the coach live on the air.
The phone rang again. 2 more rings and this call ends the same way it always does: Mick Cronin reciting the beginning of his own cell phone number through his voicemail greeting as Bill Cunningham hurries to hang up before giving listeners the digits to the Bearcats' head coach.
And just at the moment when that third ring should have echoed through the airwaves of the "Nation's Station," a voice picked up at the other end:
Holy cow, Mick Cronin actually answered Cunningham's call! I guess if you bug a guy a dozen times over a few weeks, he's bound to answer at some point, right? Seriously, though; Cunningham dials Cronin like a cold-call telemarketer looking for his first sale. Relentless.
The head coach bantered back and forth with Seg and Bill over the next few minutes as Cunningham joked about the Bearcats playing a soup company. Typical for Bill, though, he had no idea both Indiana State and Belmont pulled off crazy upsets this past weekend, so Mick had more than enough ammo to fire back with. Which brings me to today's edition of the Layup Line...
- Game: Wednesday, November 20 @ 7:00pm ET
- Location: Fifth Third Arena/Shoemaker Center; Cincinnati, OH
- TV/Radio: ESPN3; 700WLW
What we know about Campbell. Well, like every other team in the 2013 Global Sports Classic, they're located in North Carolina. Which begs the question of how in the hell they came up with this "tournament" anyway? 4 teams from North Carolina and a team from Ohio?
The Fighting Camels should pose more of a threat than what Appy State attempted over the weekend; in fact, they beat the Mountaineers by 7 almost a week ago. On the other hand, Campbell lost to NC State by double digits this past weekend, so I think you see where this is going.
super effective comparison of what to expect, though, let's look at what Campbell mustered up against NC State since the Wolfpack are the second best team in this early season tournament:
- FG%: 46%
- Rebound Margin: -8
- Turnover Margin: +9
- Bench Points: 30
Sure, I just randomly picked a few stats, and, really, this just shows how odd the NC State/Campbell game was. Get this: even though the Camels had a +9 turnover margin, they were outscored by 17 in the "points off turnovers" category.
Campbell runs a spread motion offense, and boy do they like to throw the ball around. In their first three games they recorded 37 assists on 58 made field goals; that's good for 63% of their made baskets. Just to compare, that's more assists than the Bearcats have in 4 games so far this year.
So who are the 'Cats game-planning against? Well, Darius Leonard (#22), their 6'9" red-shirt junior center/forward, is averaging 17 points a game in only 25 minutes. I imagine Titus Rubles will draw the task of guarding him, and I like that match up for the Bearcats. Andrew Ryan (#20) a 6'5" red-shirt junior guard is averaging double digit points so far this year as well as 2.7 assists each game. On top of that, Ryan's shooting 63% from the field on the season. Finally, the Camels have a guy named Leek Leek. I just really like the name Leek Leek.
What the 'Cats have to do to win:
- Hold the Camels under 45% from the field. Campbell has a field goal percentage of over 50%. If the Bearcats hold them to under 45, they should be fine.
- Protect the ball. The Camels have 9 guys that average double digit minutes a game so far this year, so it'll be tough for Cronin to wear them out like he has with other opponents. If the 'Cats take care of the ball, though, any apparent depth the Camels have won't matter. And, let's be honest, the Camels' depth isn't the same as the Bearcats from a talent standpoint.
- Block 5+ shots. The Bearcats average 7 blocks a game. Five or more should be enough to make Campbell weary of driving the lane (if they're not already).
*FYI - all of Campbell's stats are based on their first 3 games. They played NC Central on Monday night, but I had to get this preview written before then, so deal with it.
My prediction: I think Cronin's crew will be undefeated heading into the New Mexico game in December, so, yeah, I think they'll beat up on Campbell on Wednesday. It'll be closer than the Appalachian State game, though: 74 - 59. Woot. Woot.
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