In a game that was a lot closer than the score would indicate, the Bearcats put the defensive clamps on Rutgers Saturday night to seal a 20 point win in front of the largest crowd of the year. 10,872 showed up to watch an old school Big East battle and for 30 minutes that's what they got. But then UC wore the Scarlet Knights down and cruised to their 8th win in a row and have begun a conference 4-0 for the first time since Conference USA days.
What I Liked:
- On a night when SK struggled (again) several others really picked things up. Troy Caupain and Shaq Thomas both hit double figures in the scoring column as well as Justin Jackson although JJ was saddled with foul trouble again and couldn't contribute as much as he has this season.
- The Jermaine Lawrence toe injury is a hurtful one in the sense that it's hurting his development and it's hurting UC's depth down low. However........the play of David Nyarsuk has been a wonderful surprise these last two games. No he's never going to provide a big scoring boost, but his ability to block shots and grab rebounds is huge. Especially the blocking shots part. The best thing about his shot blocking is that he's not going to play enough minutes to really get in foul trouble so he's free to swat away.
- Troy Caupain continues to impress. He's already the best guard on the break and that really isn't even a debate. He's playing with poise and hitting big shots as well. I would like to see him do better than 2-5 from the foul line because I know he's a better free throw shooter than that. And although he turned it over 4 times last night that's more the anomaly than the norm.
- SK hit a three. And he was able to get to the foul line with some regularity and still chip in 16 points. That's just about all. He's still really struggling from behind the line (1-10) and he seems to be forcing some "bad SK" shots like last year. Hopefully with the improvement of Caupain and increased scoring from Shaq Thomas and others he won't have to keep that up.
- My man Shaq Thomas may be starting to see the light. He made a three in the first half that looked like it had a little more arc...or maybe I had too much birthday cake and it skewed my vision. Either way he looks more active. Grabbed a whole THREE rebounds and got to the foul line 6 times making all 6. Remember his ugly foul shot in the Creighton game when it was still in the balance? He's really improved that area of his game this year. So far he's shooting .733 which is up from .481 last year (13-27). And one more thing. That DUNK!!! Yes the game was settled, but he grabbed the ball and attacked the rim like we all know he can. I'm pretty sure we'd ALL like to see more of that.
- JaQuon Parker all-glue guy award is going to be unanimously voted to Titus Rubles in the postseason. He took all of 2 shots in the game, made one. Grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 5 assists, blocked a shot, and had a steal in 33 minutes. He's never going to be a threat on the offensive end, but he does everything else on the floor to help his team win. And that's what they're doing.
- 40 free throws. Doesn't make for a pretty game, but getting to the line 40 times especially if this team is going to continue to make 70% is huge.
- 10,872. No it's not 13,176 but that's the biggest crowd of the year. I'm sad I missed it. In my next life my children are going to be born in the summer so I don't miss UC basketball games. But I wanted to make a point to talk about the nice crowd since I've complained about it in the past. Very very nice to see. Hopefully we can see consistent 10K+ crowds the rest of the season. I'm sure the team fed off the energy especially when shots weren't falling.
What I Didn't Like:
- Sloppy passing. The first half was about as sloppy as I can remember. Well, back to the Eggs fiasco/debacle/embarrassment. Too many one-handed or cross-court passes that had no zip on them. They predictably were stolen. And 14 turnovers in a game is not something that needs to happen again.
- JJ has to stay out of foul trouble. How many times has this been said? Well, despite the inspired play of David Nyarsuk, this team needs Jackson on the floor. Saturday was a bit scary when the game was still in the balance and JJ is on the bench with 4 fouls and the clock still had 12:00 showing. In 20 minutes, JJ still managed 11 points and 7 rebounds, but that can't continue and he's been in foul trouble two games in a row now. A bad trend we need to reverse. He's far too valuable on the floor than on the bench...even if UC dominated the final 12:00 last night.
- Ge'Lawn Guyn can't get out of his own way right now. The only shot he took last night was a contested three. How contested? It was blocked. In 11 minutes, he had a rebound. And that's all. No assists, no turnovers, no steals, nothing. For a starting point guard, he should not be threatening his own version of "Club Trillion". I'm sure we all think he's a better player than he's showed lately, but he's also showing why people were higher on Caupain in the preseason. This team is so thin right now they need all the help it can get. Guyn has to step it up and give the team more than he is at this point.
- 4-18 from three. Yuck. Obviously most of those taken by Kilpatrick so the rest of the team was 3-8 so that's not horrible.
15-2, 4-0 in league with several winnable games on the horizon. With teams near the bottom of the rankings losing, UC should see themselves appear in the top 25 for the first time this season. And deservedly so. They have several good wins on the resume and no bad losses. No, rankings don't mean much. They don't mean as much as the RPI if you still follow that, or the BPI or whatever metrics you subscribe to. Top 25 polls are for fans, players, and recruits watching all over the country. It helps and it rewards hard work and effort. Who doesn't like to see a number next to their team on the screen? Hey, it certainly beats the alternative, doesn't it?