UC punked by ACC, but good things to come: UC Basketball cooking

Lindner Athletics Center no. 05And then there was one…

On Tuesday, Louisville was voted into the ACC, leaving UC and Connecticut as the two notable main stays remaining from the Big East.

UC is now back to where it was years ago, in what is now the “new and improved” Big East-Conference USA hybrid. A melting pot of mediocre to below average mid-majors scattered across the country with very little star power. Boise State is the only other team who has done anything in football and none of the additional teams have anything near as relevant a basketball program.

Tulane. Really? I mean give me a break, their last winning season was………

(Pause for dramatic effect)

………..2002. That’s 10 years ago for those of you who failed 5th grade math. Eight of those years they have 4 wins or less. Strike up the band, that’s a guaranteed win every season. HELLO BIG EAST, we don’t need cannon fodder or schools from big markets that nobody cares about. The Big East is sinking, and adding more weight is only going to make it go under quicker.

So where does that leave UC? It’s not like they aren’t trying to move, but the girl has to like you in order for you to be invited to the party. So yeah, we’re the ugly nerd who can’t get a date. It’s just like high school with all the beautiful cheerleaders picking up their latest boy toys and UC is left waiting for one to be dumped and desperate.

Seems to me UC has two options: Go independent or win, that’s it.

I’m no expert on going alone, I know its risky business in Euchre, but sometimes you have to just go for it. I just don’t think we have the fan base in order to do it. UC football hasn’t been relevant till the past 10 years. Tradition and loyalty take time to develop. They just haven’t been noteworthy long enough to do so. You need generations of fans in order to have a big time football program. UC had 21,000 at the game on Friday vs USF. Ohio State gets three times that for the spring game. It’s hard enough getting teams like Virginia Tech and Ohio State to play home and away games with us, let alone 12 of them.

So that leaves us with winning.

Keep winning and hope that one of those cheerleaders gets dumped, the Big 12 decides it doesn’t want to be the Big Ten and the SEC steals Florida State. Staying where they are will only take them two steps back. The football team needs to play teams better than them, not Tulane and Central Florida. Big time recruits won’t come unless they feel like they are in, well, the big time. And trust me– the new look Conference USA is not the big time.

The good news is they have some time.

Louisville and Rutgers won’t leave for another year so the conference will still be somewhat respectable next season. A conference is bound to start poaching by then. I just hope that recruiting doesn’t fall off between now and then. Ultimately I think UC will be fine. They will get into the ACC in a year, or maybe sooner. Don’t worry. We will again be a part of the best basketball conference in America and a BCS football conference.

Until then fans need to support the teams. They need us to stand behind them, even though we feel rejected and let down. The basketball team has a full slate of good teams they play this year including this weekend. So on Saturday afternoon make your way to The Shoe or settle into your couch to watch UC take on UConn. Heck I’m not even asking you to make the 17 hour trip, but kudos to you if you do. If you love them, support them, but don’t worry, just a little while longer and we will be back with the big boys.

Meanwhile, the ‘Cats are cooking on the court…

It has been a busy couple days on the college landscape and for the sports fans in the Queen City.  The Bengals head to San Diego for a big game this weekend, in hopes of winning their 4th straight. UC Basketball returns home after winning something called the Global Sports Classic in Las Vegas and the landscape shifted again in college sports leaving the University of Cincinnati as one of the last ducks on the pond. 

Well I’m here to help you forget the bad and focus on the good.  The ‘Cats on the court and the field will be fine.  Great things remain on the horizon for UC basketball, and while not dominating, UC football team is just good enough to keep this program headed in the right direction. 

Let’s start with the  ’Cats on the floor.  Has anyone else watched this team play?  Has anyone noticed how deep their bench is?  They don’t stop coming.  It’s like an endless stream of talent with very little drop off in play as you go down the ranks.  From top to bottom, the next guy off the bench offers similar skill level, but something a little different from the guy in front of him. 

First things first, Cheikh Mbodj is a changed man from last year.  I’ll be the first to say I had my doubts about him replacing Yancy Gates this year based on his performance last season.  But he doesn’t even look like the same person.  He’s built like a Big East center should be and deserves the respect of those who attack the basket.  Behind him you have the JC transfer Nyarsuk. Perhaps the one with the most upside is sophomore Kelvin Gaines.   They have three 6’7 forwards that play including newcomer Titus Rubles to back up Justin Jackson. 

Titus is an intriguing player.  He needs to get more comfortable and used to playing Bearcat defense but the kid has talent.  Often times JC players have trouble transitioning up to the next level of college ball and Rubles is no different.  But at times he can take over games and you see the potential he has to be a dominating player.  During both games in Las Vegas, UC’s offense struggled, as it tends to do, and both times Rubles step up with some big baskets to help carry the team.  Yes he’s inconsistent and plays sloppy at times, but look for this kid to grow as the season develops.  He will be a key player as we near the end of this season and will create quite the scoring duo with Sean Kilpatrick next year. 

As for the rest of the team, SK was named Big East Player of the Week, while averaging 21 points a game thus far this season.  Cashmere Wright is providing leadership, consistency, and streaky 3 point shooting to provide a good combo in the backcourt.  The backups are solid.  JaQuon Parker scores and rebounds like he’s 5 inches taller than he is.  Ge’Lawn Guyn is becoming a clone of Cashmere Wright with his relentless defense and 3 point shooting and I love watching Jermaine Sanders.  Maybe it’s because he’s left handed, I don’t know, but he seems to always do his job and be where he needs to be.  He’s also shooting 55% from the floor in limited minutes, which I see increasing as the season goes on.

That brings them in this week ranked # 17 in the county, the highest they’ve been since 2004 when Bob Huggins was still roving the sidelines.  They beat two legit opponents over the weekend in Oregon and Iowa State.  Oregon, while not ranked at the time, beat UNLV and is now ranked in the Top 25.  UC gets another test this weekend when they face Alabama as a part of the Big East/SEC Challenge.  Alabama comes in already beating Oregon State and having smoked Villanova. 

Win or lose Saturday, this team is legit.  They play hard defense and run with the ball on offense.  This team is finally where we want it to be, they have arrived.  They have depth which translates to young talent on the roster for years to come.  I’ll be there on Saturday to root them on and you should be too.  Trust me, if you haven’t seen them you’re in for a treat–so make the trip to Clifton on Saturday and let’s bring back the glory days.