The Crosstown Shootout, like any rivalry, is built on a long history filled with star players and standout coaches. Both the Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers have had their fair share of both in the 91 years this rivalry has been going on.
This year’s version will be a bit different. Both teams went through some roster and coaching staff shuffling during the offseason. With Gary Clark, Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington gone for UC and Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and head coach Chris Mack gone for Xavier, its time for the next generation to make their mark.
That’s not to say that every player will enter Fifth Third Arena on Saturday wondering what this whole Crosstown Shootout business is about. Each and every guy on both the UC and Xavier rosters know how important this game is. Some of the Bearcats know better than others.
Now a junior, Cumberland is a battle-hardened veteran of the Shootout. He displayed incredible poise in the face of such intense competition as a freshman, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting to help lead UC to its last win in the rivalry. He did the bulk of his work during an epic second-half rally, netting 13 points in the final 20 minutes as the Bearcats turned a 44-36 halftime deficit into a an 86-78 victory. Performances like that are the ones you remember.
Cumberland’s second run at the Musketeers featured the same scoring output (15 points) and once again, it was mainly ion the second half (14 points). However, the fanfare was absent as made 5-of-12 shots attempts and the Bearcats lost 89-76.
Nobody on UC’s roster has played in more Crosstown Shootouts than Jenifer, who will be making his fourth appearance this Saturday. The UC point guard has never really done all that much in these games, however. In his first two tries he combined for six minutes, an assist and zero points. He finally got a chance to actually contribute last year, playing 17 minutes as a starter. He handed out four dimes and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting, but only saw five minutes on the court after halftime.
After playing four mainly empty minutes in the Shootout as a freshman, Scott got a crash course last year. He played a lot down the stretch, logging 16 minutes in the second half when he scored four points and secured seven rebounds. His playing time will be even more pronounced this year and the plan is for his production to follow suit.
Brooks was the reverse of Scott during his first two Shootouts. The 6’11” junior was given 12 minutes of playing time during the 2016-17 matchup. Even as a freshman, he rewarded Mick Cronin’s confidence, grabbing three rebounds and blocking a pair of shots while scoring four points. His place on the depth chart was more diminished a year ago, but even in only six minutes he blocked two shots. Rejecting Xavier is always a good thing.
A transfer from Sacred Heart, Broome was entering an entirely new atmosphere when he played in his first Shootout last winter. He must have liked it because he recorded 16 points and five assists in 27 minutes off the bench. He’ll be playing a similar role this weekend and the Bearcats can only hope he replicates that performance.
With Washington struggling in the frontcourt last year, Nsoseme was given eight minutes (including seven in the second half). He didn’t provide much offensively, but swatted away four Xavier shots and gave great energy on the glass.
Moore has seen his minutes dip as a sophomore. As a freshman he played in nine minutes against Xavier and missed all three of his field goal tries, although he did tally a pair of rebounds.
This year’s breakout star is a good bet to make a major impact this weekend. He definitely didn’t last year, with two largely empty minutes played.