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Five Up, Five Down: Moments from the 2017-18 Season for Cincinnati Bearcats Athletics

As the calendar turns to August and the 2018-19 athletic schedule gets underway, let’s relieve the highs and lows of 2017-18.

NCAA Basketball: American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Bearcats’ women’s soccer team will play an exhibition game against the Dayton Flyers. On Aug. 16 they will play their regular season opener. That game not only marks the return of Bearcats soccer, but the beginning of the 2018-19 athletic schedule, meaning we can officially put the 2017-18 seasons behind us. Before we look forward to another year of Bearcat sports, we thought it would be fun to look back at the highs and lows of the last 12 months. Here’s what we came up with.

Clayton’s Five Up

1. Bearcats women’s basketball earns WNIT bid

It has been such a pleasure to watch this team grow into winners over the past couple of seasons. Senior co-captains Shanice Johnson and Ana Owens provided such consistent leadership on this team. Let’s hope they continue to make progress under new coach Michelle Clark-Heard.

2. Bearcats men’s basketball outlasts Houston in American Athletic Conference championship game

Man was that one close. It gave me the agita something fierce.

3. Men’s basketball downs UCLA in Westwood

In front of a national television audience, the Bearcats went out to Los Angeles and took the most storied program in the history of college basketball to the woodshed. This December 16th game convinced me that the 2017-2018 Cincinnati team was ready for prime time.

4. UC Football hangs on against UConn

In the 2017 season finale, the Bearcats hung on to beat UConn 22-21 in a battle of 3-8 teams. The records of these teams in no way reflected the passion with which this game was played. Cincinnati earned its fourth win of the season in a hard fought battle that came down to the last play.

5. Men’s basketball earns a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament

Affirmation of the fantastic season that Bearcats men’s basketball had in 2017-2018.

Clayton’s Five Down

1. The Nevada game (men’s basketball)

Mick Cronin might be over this one. The team might be over it. But I’m not and I know you’re not.

2. The Xavier game (men’s basketball)

J.P. Macura’s presence on the Hornets’ summer league team suddenly makes me like Charlotte less.

3. The East Carolina game (football):

Getting blown out by the likes of UCF and USF is one thing. Getting blown out by a 3-9 Pirates team is quite something else.

4. The firing of Jamelle Elliott

In 2017-2018, Cincinnati women’s basketball posted its best season in the last 15 years. Jamelle Elliott built the Bearcats into a competitive team in a highly competitive conference, a league that features not only UConn but also excellent USF and UCF teams. And then she got fired.

5. The Marshall game (football)

Marshall made Cincinnati look rather roody poo in this home blowout loss. This late September matchup made me realize that Cincinnati wasn’t going to be going bowling in 2017.

Johnny’s Five Up

1. AAC tourney win

Beating Houston for the season title, and coming into the tournament as a favorite to go far was probably the crowning glory for UC sports this year. It kind of went sideways in the NCAA Tournament, but this was a key moment for campus.

2. Change in women’s basketball

Michelle Clark-Heard brings a fresh new look at Cincy’s mixed performance in the postseason, along with a history of making the NCAA tournament at WKU. As poorly as Jamelle Elliot’s firing was handled (see below), UC got it right when it moved toward the future.

3. UC men’s basketball seeded No. 2

A No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament was the reward for all of the clutch wins that the men’s basketball program had this year in the regular season. It’s not as sweet as a victory in the conference tourney, but it’s good enough to make the list.

4. Women’s lacrosse beats Ohio State

This year was a trend upward for the women’s LAX team (8-9), and beating Columbus Community College in Cincy this year was the most notable win for the crew. Speaking of crews, UC whooped Columbus so hard its MLS team is moving to Austin to start a commune or a cult or something.

5. Men’s baseball puts off the inevitable

It was rainy in Louisville on March 27. That bought the baseball team a couple months to eke out a 24-6 loss against the Cardinals in the rescheduled game after Louisville lost their teeth midway through the year.

Johnny’s Five Down

1. The firing of Jamelle Elliot

The University of Cincinnati is not a Shoney’s, but they fire people like they’re run by an overeager assistant night manager at the one in Dry Ridge that closed years ago. I believe that Jamelle Elliot will be exceptional wherever she lands, but I hope it’s not in the conference for the Bearcats’ sake.

2. The UConn job

Hanging on against an also-ran like UConn is a disgrace for UC football. Connecticut is basically still an FCS team, with no recruiting base, history, or national profile.

3. Man Overboard (PUNS!)

Losing to Navy is slightly worse than losing to UConn, if only because it’s harder to cheer against Navy, who are way more likable than UConn.

4. Being cannon fodder for the other Florida schools

UCF and USF are paper tigers, not real competitors. UC is a rubber stamp for fake national champions. Not a good reputation.

5. Johnny starts writing for Down the Drive’s Five Up, Five Down


Phil’s Five Up

1. Men’s basketball wins the American Athletic Conference

From wire to wire, the Bearcats were the best basketball team in the AAC and they proved it by winning both the regular season title and conference championship.

2. Men’s swimming and diving wins the American Athletic Conference title

That’s right. UC knows how to swim and dive.

3. Jacob Evans (men’s basketball) selected in the first round of the NBA Draft and Gary Clark (men’s basketball) is named AAC Player of the Year

The two best players on the best team in the AAC both had big seasons. In his senior year, Clark was a first-team all-league performer who also won conference player of the year honors. It was a fitting way for “The Problem” to finish out his collegiate career.

Evans was taken No. 28 overall by the Golden State Warriors, becoming the Bearcats’ first first round pick since 2005.

4. Women’s basketball gets WNIT bid

It had been quite a while since the Bearcats had made the postseason, but this past year’s team ended a drought of six years by making it into the WNIT after going 19-13 overall. It was quite the rise for a team that won only eight games two years ago.

5. Football has 2018’s No. 1 recruiting class in AAC

This isn’t really a moment so much as an indication of future ones. While Luke Fickell’s team still has a long way to go, and earning a No. 1 ranking in recruiting doesn’t guarantee anything, the football program is on the way up.

Honorable Mentions: Vanessa Gilles (soccer) named co-AAC Defensive Player of the Year; Manny Rodriguez (baseball) selected in 10th round of MLB Draft.

Phil’s Five Down

In descending order, as always.

5. Baseball swept out of AAC Tournament

Scott Googins did a lot of great things in his first year as the skipper of the baseball Bearcats. Rodriguez and J.T. Perez were stand out players on a team that upset a nationally ranked Indiana team, among other accomplishments. However, another swift exit from the postseason stung.

4. Men’s and women’s basketball loses to Xavier

For all the Bearcats’ accomplishments on the hardwood, losing the Crosstown Shootout still hurts.

3. Women’s soccer loses in AAC Tournament

The 2015 AAC champions finished 12-4-3 overall, including an 8-0-3 mark at home, but got bounced in the first round for the second-straight year.

2. Jamelle Elliott fired

Elliott did a great job as head coach of the women’s basketball team but was let go. I don’t care what the reasons were, this was a bad move.

1. Men’s basketball loses to Nevada in NCAA Tournament


Disagree with us? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or via a FanPost. Also, if you want us to rank something specific next week, let us know.