Much has been made over the past few weeks about UC’s offense, or lack there of. In the last 10 games the Bearcats have eclipsed the 70 point mark just twice and one of those times, against Marquette, the game had to go into overtime for Cincinnati to break it. 4 times in the last 10 games UC hasn’t even hit 60 on the scoreboard. The Bearcats lost each of those games allowing an average of just 59 points to their opponents.
Clearly the defense is not the problem. It never has been with this team as Mick Cronin has instilled a toughness in the Bearcats that forces opposing offenses to work extra hard on every single possession to get to the bucket. It’s a game of attrition that most teams aren’t used to playing and when they start mixing it up in the mud with Cincinnati, they usually come out battered and bruised and most importantly without the basketball. By the end of the game they usually don’t know what hit them, thanks to Mick Cronin’s ability to turn every Bearcat into a stellar defensive player. The work he’s done with this team on that end of the court is extraordinary and deserves praise. I couldn’t be happier with the job Mick has done from that standpoint and overall his work rebuilding this program. I truly hope the man retires as Cincinnati’s head coach many, many years from now.
But on the flip side Cincinnati’s offense under Mick has been an outright embarrassment since he was hired from Murray State 7 years ago. And I have the numbers to prove it:
|Gary Clark||SF||*** - 89||***||**** - 80||****|
|Coreontae DeBerry||C||*** - 89||-||-||-|
|Quadri Moore||C||*** - 89||****||**** - 80||****|
To those fans who blame the players for not hitting shots I point to those numbers above as evidence that the coaching staff is the problem. Over the last 7 years players have come and gone but the coaches have stayed relatively the same, especially with Mick Cronin at the top. And during this time the Bearcats have been consistently bad at scoring the basketball. The numbers are even scarier when you look at free throw %. These teams even have a hard time making uncontested shots.
The bottom line is, the Bearcats under Mick Cronin can’t put a friggin’ basketball in a hoop. Why? Because Mick Cronin doesn’t put his players in the best position to score buckets. With all of his emphasis on creating a suffocating defense he’s completely neglected the offense and it’s transparent in the stats over the last 7 years.
What’s even worse this year is that Cincinnati is on pace to post the worst statistical season offensively since Mick took over. The 37.5% field goal percentage and 61.8 points per game average is the worst in his tenure. And again the horrendous free throw % is just scary considering the talent on this team. Given that at the beginning of the year Mick professed his team would be up-tempo, overwhelming opponents with speed and creativity, and the numbers look even more embarrassing.
So now what? It’s all doom and gloom, right? Yes and no. On one hand, Cincinnati is 7 – 6, staring down one of their toughest stretches of the season, and can’t seem to do anything right offensively. The sand in the proverbial hour glass is running out as the very real possibility of missing the NCAA tournament looms. As such, Mick needs to looking inward ASAP and make some changes on offense. I’m not asking him to throw whatever offensive schemes he has out the window. The should happen in the upcoming offseason.
But in the short term he needs to make some tweaks to the playsets that doesn’t involve throwing the ball around the perimeter for 30 seconds while every player not touching the ball just stands in one place. If he does infuse some better plays the Bearcats will be as good a team as any in this conference, again thanks to that defense. Plus Cashmere Wright should be getting healthier by the day, which will obviously provide a boost on offense.
So we’ll see where the rest of the season takes us. Hopefully Mick has the frame of mind to realize his system doesn’t work and he needs to make at least minor changes. The sooner the better for my sanity’s sake.