Our Bearcats have been playing two games a week since the Xavier game. Coincidence? Probably not. They've managed to turn their season around so much in that span that they're widely being discussed as a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. When I say "top seed" I mean a top 4 seed in a region, not top 4 in the country at least right now. That could change, but they'd likely have to run the table, something they're capable of. But they will need to regroup after Saturday's shellacking at the hands of SMU. And let's not sugarcoat it, they were shellacked. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone takes their beatings from time to time. UC probably had that coming.
So, in this oh-so-important time off, what do the Bearcats need to work on to turn things back around? I mean they're on a one-game losing streak, and that needs to be fixed immediately. What do I wish for this week off (and beyond)? Well, I'll tell you...
- Sean Kilpatrick: about 3 days off. Rest those legs and especially that back since you've been carrying this team lately. Light practice on Thursday, a little harder on Friday, and come out refreshed and ready to go Saturday. He's the MVP of this team right now. As good as Justin Jackson has been, UC can win with him having an off night. They cannot win if SK is.
- Justin Jackson: increased calm and composure. He lost a little bit of both Saturday night with 6 turnovers and a bit more out of control play. They probably weren't going to win with him playing his best game of the year, but it didn't help he got in foul trouble and was sloppy with the ball. He and SK are what make this team tick, and he has to play under control and within himself.
- Titus Rubles: really can't complain too much about his game. You know what you're going to get with Titus and he typically stays within himself. Just rest up and get ready to beat the piss out of the Cougars
- Shaq Thomas and Jermaine Sanders: find your games again. Somehow, someway. I would almost say this combo is more important than even Titus. As much as Titus does, they need someone aside from SK and JJ to score. It doesn't have to be a lot, but it has to be some. If these two can combine for 15-20 points UC won't lose. I'd bet on it. I think both are quite fatigued as neither has been a major part of the rotation until this season. Shaq always tends to drift in and out of games. He was great for a stretch, but now he's drifting again. Jermaine is still playing under control, which is a great part of his overall game, but he's just not hitting any open shots.
- Ge'Lawn Guyn: rest the shoulder, feet, anything else that is hurting right now. For the past few weeks you've been an unsung hero picking up the pace for Shaq and Sanders. We need you to continue that especially in light of the ongoing freshman struggles of Troy Caupain.
- Troy Caupain, Jermaine Lawrence, and Kevin Johnson: rest for the minds. I'd imagine at this point your heads are swimming. It's been a long season of traveling, school work, and of course basketball a notch or two higher than you've been used to. Lawrence needs to find his basketball legs, Caupain needs to relax and play, and KJ needs to calm down. Since scoring 8 against Temple, Caupain has tallied just 3 points in the four games since and shot 1-14 in the process. For a time, he was looking more and more likely to steal the point guard spot from Guyn. Now, not so much.
- Fans: perspective. This team was a bubble team by most projections before the season. They're currently a 3 seed with Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi, the two most respected "bracketologists". The loss to SMU probably won't be the last in the regular season. Hell the Bearcats may not win the AAC regular season championship nor the conference tournament. That's very real still. UC has some tough games left to play and if they can't get some more contributions aside from SK and JJ, they WILL lose more games. But that doesn't mean this hasn't been an outstanding season.
- Fifth Third Arena: I want you FULL. Nothing less than 13,176 for the final 3 games. If you are full, UC will complete an undefeated home schedule.
- Mick Cronin: a great relationship with Mike Bohn, and a new plane for recruiting, and a new arena, and a lifetime contract.
- Darren Savino and/or Larry Davis: a deep March run so you both get opportunities to be head coaches and run your own programs.
- Dan Cronin: a referee to admit you were right and they were wrong. Oh, and that trifecta you're playing
- Everyone: this God forsaken winter to finally end!!!