This is an important week for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Road games against Memphis and Houston are no joke. If they look back, however, the Bearcats have to get out the binoculars to see their last loss. They have won their last seven games and are keeping pace with Houston at the very top of the American Athletic Conference standings. They’ve even broken into the national rankings. Before they take off for the impending two-game road swing, let’s examine how the roster is doing.
13. Sam Martin (Previously 13)
12. John Koz (12)
Neither Martin or Koz played in the last four games, so they’ll just stay put. For those wondering, they remain on the rankings because they have logged at least one minute of playing time this season.
11. Mamoudou Diarra (11)
Diarra made an impact against Tulsa, netting four points and collecting a rebound. He has played exceptionally sparingly other than that.
10. Rashawn Fredericks (10)
Even though Fredericks is scoring more points per game than Logan Johnson, Eliel Nsoseme and Trevor Moore this season, his playing time has been heading in reverse at an incredibly steep rate. He did score four points and secure three rebounds against Tulsa, but in only eight minutes. He has not logged double-digit minutes since Jan. 10 and other than that effort against the Golden Hurricane, he hasn’t scored in a game since Jan. 2.
9. Logan Johnson (9)
Not much has changed at the bottom of the rotation, and that’s to be expected as everyone has a solidified role at this point. Even though Johnson still isn’t getting huge helpings of minutes, he did average nine per game over the last four contests. His shooting still needs polish, but he is providing a ton of energy, securing rebounds and playing help defense. That’s a pretty valuable skill set to have from your ninth man.
8. Trevor Moore (8)
If these rankings were based just on the SMU game, Moore would be much higher. The sophomore drained three triples to finish with nine points, which marked his highest point total since he dropped in 10 against South Carolina State on Dec. 22. He played 17 minutes in that game, matching his total from the previous game. He is knocking down only 27.1 percent from three overall this season, but has begun to find his rhythm, with a 36.4 percent success rate in the last four games. If Moore is going to earn more playing time down the stretch, making shots from long range will get him there.
7. Eliel Nsoseme (6)
Nsoseme was a key contributor against Temple last Sunday and he’s continued to be an unheralded one for the Bearcats overall. Just because he’s not scoring doesn’t mean he isn’t an important part of the rotation. He’s played 16 minutes in each of the last two games and averaged six rebounds a contest during that small stretch. Nsoseme will just keep grabbing rebounds as long as he’s given the opportunity.
6. Nysier Brooks (2)
Despite scoring 10 points against SMU on Saturday, Brooks’ offensive improvements have really suffered of late. He is averaging only seven points per game on 42.9 percent shooting in the last four outings. For a player who scores pretty much exclusively from inside or around the painted area, that’s a rough shooting rate. Luckily, the 6’11” sophomore from Philadelphia can still make a positive impact with his defense and rebounding and he’s done that by averaging seven boards and 1.3 blocks per game during the last four contests. If he can work past this offensive cold streak, he’ll be right back to being an improved two-way threat.
5. Justin Jenifer (7)
It’s been an up and down couple of weeks for Jenifer. He was exceptional in wins against Wichita State (17 points) and Tulsa (18 points, 6-for-10 from three), but he was just limited to four points on 2-for-5 shooting against SMU. The Tulsa game was a brilliant showing and speaks to Jenifer’s rise to prominence as a three-point assassin. He has made an even 50 percent of his three-point attempts during the last four games and is hitting 45 percent overall this season. But that improved shooting seems to be coming at the expense of his play making. He has tallied zero assists three times in the last six games after doing so only once in the first 15 he played. If the Bearcats can get both sides of Jenifer’s game going, they’ll be even more dangerous than they already are.
4. Cane Broome (5)
Broome has been almost the opposite of Jenifer this season, which is quite the change considering Jenifer is considered the pass-first guy and Broome is the scoring threat. The senior sixth man is getting lots of time off the bench and he has had at least three assists in each of the last three games. He’s also scored in double figures twice in the last four outings, but his shooting is still lacking severely. He’s making 31 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from three during the recent four-game stretch. He is shying away from the three-point line a little, averaging 2.8 attempts per game during the last four compared with 4.6 attempts per game overall this season.
3. Keith Williams (3)
Williams has been one of the most consistent players on the team all season, but he’s still adding new wrinkles to his game. Recently, he’s started knocking down three-pointers at a better rate. A relatively decent long-range shooter overall (34.7 percent), he’s made 36.4 percent during the last four games. That’s not to say that he’s suddenly Ray Allen, but when he does get an open look, he’s making them. In addition, against Tulsa, he illustrated that he has the potential to be more than just a scorer, as he handed out a career-high five assists. Perhaps another step forward is on the horizon.
2. Trevon Scott (4)
Speaking of consistency, Scott is another guy who has just gone to work every game and helped the team win. There are some games where he fades into the background, like when he had two points and three rebounds in 28 minutes against SMU. However, there are also games where he dominates, like when he tallied 13 points and 11 boards in 29 minutes against Tulsa. Scott’s importance to the team isn’t just a stats thing, however. During the last four games, nobody besides Jarron Cumberland is playing more minutes per game than Scott, who is still a great defender and strong rebounder.
1. Jarron Cumberland (1)
I’m not sure there’s any way Cumberland will ever drop from the No. 1 ranking. Even if this were a power rankings of players in the entire American Athletic Conference, he’d probably have a stranglehold on the top spot. Obviously the scoring is the biggest reason, but Cumberland has also been filling other columns on the box score. He’s averaging seven rebounds and 3.8 assists over the last four contests. His all-around dominance is unmatched and not just on Cincinnati’s roster.