Cane Broome is scoring more points per game than he did a year ago. His offensive rating is higher this season than it was in either of his two seasons at Sacred Heart when he averaged 18.7 points per game. He is shooting a career-high percentage from the free throw line (81.8 percent). He has slashed his turnover rate by 2.5 percent. Despite all those facts, Broome is having a frustratingly inconsistent season.
That was encapsulated perfectly during the last week as the Cincinnati Bearcats opened American Athletic Conference play. Broome was absolutely sensational in Wednesday’s win over Tulane, as he scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with three assists. Then, in a road upset against East Carolina on Saturday, he barely made an impact. In just eight minutes, he was held scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting.
One bad game does not define an entire season, but Broome has now been held to zero points in two games, as he failed to get on the board against NC Central in the second game of the year. Even if you want to blame an inconsistent role on the team, since his playing time has fluctuated wildly, there’s no denying that Broome has not been able to consistently excel. It’s a tough thing to watch since he is capable of greatness. You only need to look back to this season to see that. In a six-game stretch from mid-November to early December, the senior point guard averaged 14.3 points and 2.8 assists per game while playing a bit more than 26 minutes an outing.
Since then, however, he has been finding it nearly impossible to get the ball through the net. In the last seven games, Broome has averaged just 4.4 points per game and that’s including the 17-point outburst against Tulane. His assist rate is still solid (2.4 per game), but the Bearcats are at their best when Broome is serving as a spark plug for the offense with his scoring. In 12 wins this season, Broome is averaging 9.6 points per game. In losses, he has managed seven points total, while making just one field goal. Obviously those loss numbers are in a small sample since the Bearats have only been defeated three times, but they are still less than appealing.
The largest gap in Broome’s game, especially compared to last season, has been his three-point shooting. While he has never been a lights out gunner from long range, Broome has always netted more than 30 percent, including a personal best of 39 percent a year ago. He has been nowhere near that type of efficiency this season. He has not made a three-pointer since Nov. 27 and has missed his last 15 tries. He is shooting just 15.6 percent from beyond the arc overall, which has vastly outweighed his improved efficiency closer to the hoop, as he is making a career-high 54.1 percent from two-point range. All those three-point misses have dragged him down to an average player at best, as his PER sits at 15.1 and his true shooting percentage is ranked 10th on the UC roster.
If the Bearcats are going to defend their American Athletic Conference championship, they need Broome to course correct. He was a critical piece of last year’s team, ranking fifth on the team in win shares. Even with major improvements from guys like Keith Williams, Trevon Scott and Nysier Brooks, the Bearcats are missing something big when Broome is not playing his best. Even if he isn’t the best volume scorer on the roster, he is probably second only to Jarron Cumberland in terms of creating his own offense, which is a necessity when shots are missing like they were against East Carolina. Broome still has the tools to be the player the Bearcats need, he just needs to use them more consistently.