I needed to take a couple of hours to quell some of my immediate emotions following this game. Most of those were some form of frustration and confusion directed towards Mick Cronin and some of Cincinnati’s players. I mean I just couldn’t fathom how a group of players experienced as this 2012-13 squad could get overwhelmed by a team that played 7 freshmen or sophomores. Plus Cincinnati was playing on its home court following an exciting win on the road against the Pitt Panthers where the Bearcats looked like they turned the corner to becoming a complete team.
But this was a game against St. John’s and as we all know you can basically throw all of the predictions out the window whenever these two hook up.
Tonight the Red Storm looked like the more experience and talented team, and really they were just better. Despite jumping out to a solid lead by exerting themselves early, the Bearcats went cold making just 8 total shots from the field in the first half trailing St. John’s by 3 at halftime. Believe it or not things got worse in the second half. The Red Storm extended their lead to 12 after a 12 – 4 run that saw Cincinnati go cold again for a stretch of almost 4-and-a-half minutes. It was again the same issues that have been haunting this team all year; poor scoring inside the paint to compliment ugly defense on the inside that couldn’t be overcome by the guards, the strength of this team.
The Bearcats were able to reassert themselves on the inside in the final 10 minutes and finally retake the lead but at that point they still seemed fated to lose. Not again could UC pull a rabbit out of its hat to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Not against a team that flat out wanted the win tonight more. The Johnnies beat the Bearcats ultimately on a floater from D’Angelo Harrison that UC couldn’t match but it would have almost seemed wrong if Cincinnati grabbed another last second win.
It’s clear this teams warts are getting more and more exposed as the competition level has ramped up. Cincinnati’s interior game on both ends of the court leaves a lot to be desired despite boasting experienced players at the post position. And when two of UC’s three talented guards go cold, as they did tonight, the Bearcats really don’t have many other scoring options on the perimeter. Right now Mick needs to go back to the drawing board get this team playing like they were in the first two months of the season. Sooner rather than later would be nice considering the Bearcats’ difficult Big East schedule is just getting started. At least he’ll have the game tonight to light a fire under his players.