It’s been an up and down week for the Cincinnati Bearcats. After defeating the Memphis Tigers last Thursday, they lost on the road to the Houston Cougars. They were nationally ranked before that and now they’re not. Even if that didn’t drastically affect where they’re projected to play in the NCAA Tournament, the mixed results were divergent from the results of the previous few weeks.
The up and down nature of the week carried over to the players themselves. Justin Jenifer scored 14 points against Memphis and then was held scoreless against Houston. Trevon Scott nearly had a double-double when UC played the Tigers, only to manage three points and as many rebounds against the Cougars.
With that as a backdrop, let’s examine how the stock of each player has shifted during the last seven days.
13. Sam Martin (Previously 13)
12. John Koz (12)
Two closely contested games did not yield any playing time for Martin and Koz, who maintain a spot in the rankings because they have both logged some playing time this season, even if it has been limited.
11. Mamoudou Diarra (11)
Diarra is still getting few opportunities and only in special circumstances. He did get three minutes against the Tigers, securing two rebounds along the way, but it may be a while before he gets another big chunk of playing time.
10. Eliel Nsoseme (7)
After starting to carve out a real spot in the rotation in the previous few weeks, Nsoseme was stuck on the bench during the last two games. He didn’t appear against Memphis and only got five minutes against the Cougars. His rebounding prowess was limited in that game and since he has scored only 10 points total in the last 10 games, if he’s not rebounding, his contributions are much less impressive.
9. Trevor Moore (8)
For a three-and-D kind of player like Moore, seeing improvements from his long-range shooting is encouraging. The problem is, he’s not getting a ton of chances to show off those adjustments, as he went 2-for-5 combined from three against the Tigers and Cougars. On top of that, the defensive part of his role has been lacking, as he had a defensive rating of more than 110 in each of the last two games.
8. Rashawn Fredericks (10)
Mick Cronin has favored different reserves at different times this season and it appears to be Fredericks’ turn. The junior transfer student averaged 15.5 minutes in the last two games, surpassing 10 minutes each time. For a player who hadn’t managed a double figure minute total since early January, this was quite the promotion. Fredericks hasn’t been able to translate the additional playing time into much offensive production (two points on 1-of-8 shooting combined the last two games), but he is at least rebounding (4.5 per game) and putting in effort on defense.
7. Logan Johnson (9)
Johnson definitely experienced the up-and-down nature of this past week. He was in for only two minutes against Houston, but he was excellent against Memphis. In that winning effort, he scored six points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor while adding four rebounds and a pair of assists. While the freshman point guard may still be earning the trust to play in games like the Houston matchup, he has shot 45.5 percent from the field over the last five games, while doing what he can to facilitate the offense and crash the boards.
6. Nysier Brooks (6)
We have reached the core of UC’s lineup now. That was evident when Cronin shortened up his rotation and leaned heavily on most of his starters in the loss to Houston. Brooks played 22 minutes, which was one of the lower totals for a starter, but he ensured that UC was competitive on the boards (10 rebounds) while defending the paint (two blocks). However, his offensive cold streak continued, as he went 3-for-8 from the floor following a scoreless effort against Memphis when he was bogged down by foul trouble. At 38.7 percent shooting the last six games, Brooks is still trying to reclaim the offensive touch he displayed earlier this year.
5. Justin Jenifer (5)
No player on the team had as drastic a change in outcomes during the last two games than Jenifer. The team’s starting point guard lit up the Tigers from beyond the arc, draining four triples en route to 14 points. Then, in a Houston game in which the Bearcats desperately needed scoring help, especially down the stretch, Jenifer only played 13 minutes and didn’t score a single point. Even when he has not been held back, Jenifer’s playmaking has been lacking, as he posted assist rates of 13.7 percent and 14 percent against Memphis and Houston, respectively, which are both far from his season mark of 24.1 percent. The Memphis game showed that Jenifer is still a critical piece of the puzzle but that hasn’t been as clear or consistent of late.
4. Keith Williams (3)
On the positive side, Williams continues to help the Bearcats get in a position to win by contributing across the board. Averages of 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and even 1.0 assists over the last week speak to his all-around ability. However, Williams is at his best when he is hitting shots in rhythm and serving as a secondary scorer to Jarron Cumberland. His efficiency wasn’t the best during the last two games (33.3 percent from the field), especially from three (1-for-7). He makes up for it with other talents, but when its all working, Williams is a force. The Bearcats need that version of the sophomore wing going forward.
3. Cane Broome (4)
It is a ridiculously small sample size to base this on, but Broome may finally be finding his offensive rhythm. He shot 46.2 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three, during the last two games and was the only Bearcat other than Cumberland to score in double figures against Houston. These may seem like meager improvements, but for a player who Cronin relies on in big spots and who is most valuable when he’s pouring in buckets, any signs of life from Broome’s shot are important.
2. Trevon Scott (2)
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Scott played more minutes against Houston than Cumberland. That speaks to just how vital he is to what the Bearcats are trying to do each time out. As one of two players on the team with at least 700 minutes played this season, Scott deserves this ranking just because of how many opportunities he has to change a game’s outcome. In the last two outings, Scott oscillated between complete dominance (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists against Memphis) and some real struggles (three points, three rebounds against Houston).
Since just about everyone had trouble with Houston, let’s focus more on the Memphis game. Scott actually posted the highest offensive rating of any Bearcat starter (133) and was a bit more aggressive with his three-point shot, sinking 2-of-5 from long range. Unfortunately, he also went just 3-for-7 at the foul line, but if he is going to start making the three-point shot a bigger part of his game, he’ll be even more valuable than he already is.
1. Jarron Cumberland (1)
In the last week, Cumberland still put up the same type of gaudy numbers as he has been producing all season (22 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG, 1.5 SPG), making it clear that it doesn’t matter who the opponent is because he’s still going to punish them. It is worth noting that his efficiency was not at an all-time high, as he shot just 36.1 percent combined against Memphis and Houston, but that just feels like a slight stumble from a player going full speed ahead toward the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year award.