Small sample sizes are not the most reliable trends to read into, but sometimes, they provide a bit of a glimpse into who has the hot hand at the present moment. For a two-week period from the end of January to mid-February, Kyle Washington had it for the Cincinnati Bearcats, but the baton has been passed in the last two games.
The current holder of the hot-hand (still work shopping the name) is Cane Broome, who has ripped off perhaps his best two-game stretch of the season during the last week. In an otherwise disappointing meeting with Wichita State last Sunday, the Sacred Heart-transfer student was doing his darnedest to keep UC from collapsing in on itself. He tallied 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and was the primary reason I wasn’t willing to concede until the final seconds, even as the Bearcats failed to get over the hump.
Last night against UConn, Broome didn’t need to be a hero, but he still played like one. With 13 points (on 4-of-7 shooting) and four assists, he turned in a spectacular effort that stood out in the ocean or production that came with a 25-point victory.
If you average it out, Broome has produced 14.5 points, 2.5 assists and a triple slash of .647/.500.800 during this little two-game heater. It is a marked improvement from what he was providing in the previous weeks. Before the Wichita State game, Broome had fallen into more of a distributor role and shied away from unleashing his best skill: scoring. From Dec. 21 to Jan. 15, he averaged only 4.7 points per game, while shooting just 30.9 percent from the floor. In that stretch, he did average 3.5 assists per game, but he also scored in double figures just once.
The real rock bottom moment came in last Thursday’s rematch with Houston. Despite constant offensive struggles, Mick Cronin held Broome out for most of the game, as the reserve point guard played in only six minutes and did not attempt a shot. It marked the first time in 86 career games up to that point that he was held scoreless. It remains a question mark as to why he only got to play six minutes, but perhaps it inadvertently served as a bit of motivation because he has been crushing it ever since.
Even though Broome averaged 18.7 points per game and started in 60 of 62 games with Sacred Heart, it was clear he was going to play a different role with the Bearcats. After all, Jacob Evans, Jarron Cumberland, Washington and Gary Clark were always going to get more looks and playing time. However, it was a bit of a surprise that he lost out on the starting point guard role to Justin Jenifer.
Or was it?
With Jenifer not a stand-out shooter and better at getting the ball to those other scorers I mentioned, I actually don’t think Cronin has made a mistake by letting Broome be a splash (and sometimes a tsunami) of offense off the bench. Broome is also an elder statesman for a promising but still young crop of contributors on the bench.
But as March rolls around and minutes start being harder to find for the reserves, Broome should be getting the bulk of minutes since he is part of the best starting five the Bearcats can muster, especially when he plays like he has this past week.