In Zac Taylor’s first year as the Bengals head coach in 2019, he started Ryan Finley at quarterback to “see what he had” after an 0-8 start. The Bearcats are now 3-7 after a loss to Wichita State on the road. They had a solid first half with defensive intensity that had rarely been seen this season. The flood gates opened up in the second half as the Shockers hung 52 points on the Bearcats. Keith Williams and Mamoudou Diarra committed some of the lowest basketball IQ plays I have seen in recent memory. Keith Williams, a senior, lets his mistakes snowball into catastrophic sequences where he fouls people 90 feet from the basket after a terrible turnover. Diarra frequently finds himself in terrible position when defending the low post.
With the continued emergence of underclassmen Zach Harvey (19 points, 4/4 from deep) and Tari Eason, Brannen needs to see what he has for the future. He has already started to do this by going small and starting Eason at the 5 instead of Vogt. Nevertheless, I do want to commend Chris Vogt for showing some aggression and confidence against the Shockers after a nightmarish streak in which he looked incredibly discouraged.
The next three games for the Bearcats come against the bottom teams in the conference with home games against East Carolina and Tulane and a road contest against Temple. This is the perfect time for the Bearcats to rack up W’s, get the young guys more playing time, and instill confidence in the team as a whole. If the team can’t go at least 2-1 in this stretch, this team has major problems that probably can’t get fixed this season.
I do want to briefly touch on the backcourt of Mika Adams-Woods and David DeJulius. First, DeJulius is something like 7/40 from behind the arc this season and Mika Adams-Woods isn’t much better. Both guards need to be able to draw fouls and get to the line more often as they are both very good free throw shooters.
It is looking more likely that Viktor Lakhin will not see the court this year which is very unfortunate because this is a free year of eligibility so there’s no downside to getting him minutes. I look forward to the growth and development of this team and that’s about it. I expect Brannen to experiment with smaller, more nimble lineups with some utilization of four guards and one big man. Hopefully along the way, we get some news about the 2021 recruiting class