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Game 9: at Cincinnati (5-1)

Coach Mick Cronin has UC playing the way we expect from a Bearcat team:  stifling defense, relentless rebounding, and great intensity.  The Bearcats are 5-1 and look like an NCAA Tournament team, especially after almost winning the Maui Tournament, defeating Vanderbilt and Maryland before losing to Gonzaga in overtime.  Coach Cronin has done a good job of incorporating his youngsters with his veterans as his team plays well together at both ends of the floor.  UC is deep, talented, and they play a tough, rugged brand of basketball that makes life miserable for their opponents.

Starters

Cashmere Wright, 6' 175 Fr.  6 pts, 2 reb.  26% FG, 29% 3PFG, 44% FT

Dion Dixon, 6'3" 195 So.  8 pts, 4 reb.  45% FG, 25% 3PFG, 2/2 FT

Lance Stephenson, 6'5" 210 Fr.  11 pts, 6 reb, 3 ass.  42% FG, 16% 3PFG, 58% FT

Rashad Bishop, 6'6" 225 Jr.  10 pts, 6 reb.  57% FG, 40% 3PFG, 63% FT

Yancy Gates, 6'9" 260 So.  12 pts, 8 reb.  57% FG, 61% FT

Off the Bench

Deonta Vaughn, 6'1" 190 Sr.  12 pts, 5 ass, 4 reb, 3:1 ass/to ratio.  40% FG, 33% 3PFG, 75% FT

Jaquon Parker, 6'3" 210 Fr.  4 pts, 3 reb.  47% FG, 13% 3PFG, 60% FT

Darnell Wilks, 6'7" 205 Jr.  4 pts, 2 reb.  53% FG, 50% 3PFG, 1/1 FT

Steve Toyloy, 6'8" 255 Sr.  5 pts, 5 reb.  44% FG, 67% FT

For UC, it all starts with defense.  They don't let you run your offense, forcing you to run your offense 35 feet away from the basket.  That high pick and roll we like to run?  Well, we better attack the basket off of it because if our guards don't come off the screen tightly, we'll be throwing up 40-footers up all night because UC likes to hedge hard on the dribbler, doubling him and forcing him out towards half-court or the sideline.  After they rebound your forced shot, they get out and run.  The ball finds its way into the hands of Vaughn or Stephenson, who look to attack and find shots for themselves or for others.  If they don't score in transition, they'll spread the floor and force you to guard in space.  The Bearcats do a great job of penetrating and moving the ball, as evidenced by their 17 assists/game.  If they miss their 1st attempt, they're usually in great rebounding position and make the stickback.  They don't run many set plays, but when they do, they consist of double screens designed to free Vaughn.  We better box people out and not simply run to the basket or we won't get a rebound tonight.

In transition or when they're moving the ball, Vaughn is the guy making things happen.  You have to be aware of him pulling up from NBA range off the dribble because he can make it from there and he has a quick trigger.  Stephenson likes to attack as well.  He's a really good ballhandler, has a long, quick first step and is a great finisher.  He's not a great shooter, so you want to keep him outside.  What's impressive about him is the poise he exhibits for a freshman; he won't force try and force the action.  Vaughn and Stephenson will also look for Gates, who can post you up, take you off the dribble and finish under control as well as make the outside shot.  Dixon is a sneaky player who can get into the lane and hit floaters.  He can also hit the 3 ball.  Bishop has added considerable bulk to his body, allowing him to finish strong inside, a nice complement to his shooting ability.  Toyloy is a big, wide body who plays hard at both ends.  Wilks is a great shooter off the bench who should see his playing time increase as the year progresses.

For Miami to stay close, we have to shoot lights out (because we won't get many 2nd shots), stay close on the boards, and have our guards play aggressively, more so than at any point this year.  We can't run our offense from half court and we have to keep their perimeter players in front of us.  To add insult to injury, UC's had a week off while we're coming off a demoralizing 22 point loss at home to Temple.

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