Bearcats face tough early test

Jacob+Evans+III%2C+Troy+Caupain%2C+and+Gary+Clark+are+three+stars+on+Cincinnati%27s+basketball+team+this+year.

photoshop by Andrew Schenkel

Jacob Evans III, Troy Caupain, and Gary Clark are three stars on Cincinnati's basketball team this year.

After an offseason scare where the University of Cincinnati head basketball coach, Mick Cronin, almost found himself coaching in Las Vegas for UNLV, the Bearcats season has officially started.

While Cincinnati lost key seniors such as Octavius Ellis, Shaq Thomas, Farad Cobb, and Coreontae DeBerry, they needed other players to step up if they wanted to make their seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Thanks to the two big additions of freshman Jarron Cumberland, a elite scoring guard out of Wilmington High School, and junior Kyle Washington, a transfer big man who was formally at North Carolina State, the Bearcats are looking just fine. Freshman forward Tre Scott and sophomore guard Justin Jenifer have also logged a substantial amount of quality minutes throughout the first six games of the season.

In their first two games of the season, Cincinnati participated in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off campus games defeating Brown and Albany rather easily.

Next up for the Bearcats was a tough Rhode Island team. After Cincinnati stretched their lead to 12 early in the second half, the Rams started their comeback. When all was said and done, Cincinnati was outscored by 13 in the second half and fell to Rhode Island 76-71.

Since the defeat, the Bearcats have steam rolled passed Penn State, Samford, and Lipscomb all within a week. Now, in the next ten days, they face their hardest stretch of the early non conference schedule.

On the first day of December, Cincinnati travels to hostile Hilton Coliseum to take on the 19th ranked team in the country, Iowa State. Although the Cyclones just fell to a good Gonzaga team, Cincinnati knows too well how hard Iowa State plays each game after a last minute loss to them last year at home.

Although the Cyclones lost star seniors Georges Niang, Jameel McKay, and Abdel Nader, this team is still not to be messed with. Now, Iowa State is led by seniors Monte Morris and Nazareth Mitrou-Long, who have all proved that they are as good as any other college basketball backcourt.

Three days later, Cincinnati should get by pretty easily while going up against the Bowling Green Falcons ahead of a tough battle against the Butler Bulldogs.

Kyle Washington is becoming an elite big man for the Bearcats this year.
photo from Jessica Hill (AP)
Kyle Washington is becoming an elite big man for the Bearcats this year.

On December 10th, the Bearcats head up to Indianapolis to take on the Butler Bulldogs who come in at 18 in this weeks AP Basketball Poll.  The Bearcats won’t have to worry about Roosevelt Jones again this year after he broke their hearts on a game-winner last year at Fifth Third Arena. Along with Jones, senior star Kellen Dunham, who tore the Bearcats defense up for 24 points, has graduated.

While most people believed that Butler would go back to being a mediocre team after the loss of their two stars, the Bulldogs have started off the season extremely strong with wins over Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Utah, and the eighth ranked Arizona Wildcats on their way to a 7-0 start.

If the Bearcats want to win these two huge non conference away games, they just need to continue doing what they’ve been doing the past few games especially on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore Jacob Evans and junior Kyle Washington need to continue their hot offensive start throughout the first six games with both averaging nearly 17 points per game.

If senior guard Troy Caupain and junior forward Gary Clark can start playing the way most people thought they would play, this team will be very dangerous come postseason time.