Sunday, November 22, 2009

VSL Gets You Ready: Previewing Vanderiblt/Cincy (Maui Round 1)

Cincy hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005, but Athlon thinks this is the best team Coach Mick Cronin has had since returning to his alma mater. They’ve predicted the Bearcats will finish 8th in the Big East, and be “one and done” in the Tournament (for what it’s worth, Joe Lunardi has the Bearcats as the “next four out,” behind the Commodores).

Leading the charge for the Bearcats are senior guard Deonta Vaughn, a 6’1 All-Big East selection and sophomore 6’9 forward Yancy Gates, selected to last year’s All-Big East Rookie team and considered a “budding low-post scorer.” Redshirt freshman 6’1 point guard Cashmire Wright, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, is joined by Lance Stephenson, who signed with the team in July. Stephenson is 6’6 and averaged 28.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists playing for Jesus Shuttlesworth’s Abraham Lincoln High team in Brooklyn. Oh yeah, Stephenson is also the all-time leading scorer in the history of New York State with 2,946 points. Rounding out the Bearcats starting line-up is Steve Toyloy, a 6’8 senior, who is averaging 4 points and 7 boards in 23 minutes.

Cincinnati struggled in their opener against Prairie View A&M, winning 69-62 after overcoming a 38-30 halftime deficit. With that said, Bearcats were much more convincing in their next game, beating Toledo 92-68 and controlling the game throughout.

For all intents and purposes, the Bearcats go 8 deep, and have some fire off the bench in the form of 6’6 forward, Rashad Bishop, a junior from Newark, NJ, 6’3 guard Larry Davis, and 6’3 sophomore guard Dion Dixon. Nashville native Darnell Wilkins is also on the Bearcat roster, but has seen relatively little action (20 minutes) this far.

Coach Cronin’s squad is not a particularly good free-throw shooting team (62.9%), but they are a team that likes to shoot the three. In fact, they’ve attempted 56 shots in 2 games, making 30.3% of those attempts. They have a 12.5/game rebounding advantage over their first two opponents, and are turning it over 13.5 times. The comparisons stats are not that illustrative give their relatively weak opponents.

With Wright and Vaughn in the backcourt, the Bearcats will look to run and play up-tempo, something the Commodores have also done early on.

For their part, Vanderbilt has certainly played better opponents than the Bearcats given their game at St. Mary’s. 2 games in, Vanderbilt is shooting 40.6% from downtown, 70% from the line (although some misses last night almost proved costly), and getting out-rebounded by an average of 6.5 a game, a stat that has to worry Kevin Stallings (to say nothing of Stanimal). Vanderbilt goes 10 deep, with relatively little drop-off, meaning the Commodores are well equipped to run if that’s what the Bearcats want to do.

As happy as Commodore fans have been with the play of Jeffrey Taylor and Dolla Beal early, the play of A.J. Ogilvy has certainly been a source of concern. If Vanderbilt wants to force Cincinnati (and the rest of their Maui opposition) to play in the half-court, Ogilvy will have to be more of a factor than he has been thus far.

Against St. Mary’s, Vanderbilt did a great job withstanding their outstanding first-half play and (CORRECTION) leading by 1 at the half. And, while the Commodores were able to build a 14 point lead early in the second, they weren’t able to hold it, and were in serious jeopardy of letting last the game slip away. Given the Bearcats talent, I’m not sure the Commodores would be so lucky if they allowed Cincinnati to “hang around.” This is all to say, Vanderbilt, if given the opportunity must do what they weren’t able to do against the Gaels, and what they were only able to do late against Lipscomb: put’em away.

Should be a good one. We’ll be live-blogging the game and hope you’ll join us. Send details on any VSL Nation gatherings taking place and we’ll be sure to post them here, on our Facebook Fan Page, and on our Twitter feed,


JAW said...

Vandy led St. Mary's at the half, by 1 point.

Steve said...

I'm really excited to see my 'dores on TV.

I hope Kevin lit a fire under the team's ass after St. Mary's. I expect the team to come out ready to show they are a top 25 team tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Before the 1st of the year, we're going to see whether this team has what it takes. I feel much better this year with a formidble non-conference schedule. I remain concerned about AJ and am not sure what the problem is. Hopefully tonight he will step up.

Seamus O'Toole said...

80% of people playing Streak for the Cash think Cincinatti is going to beat us. That's bold. Is bold the right word?

Let's earn that #24 ranking today.

Stanimal said...

Enough talk baby. Time to play the game!

Anonymous said...

3 of the biggest problems last season were: turnovers, lack of inside presence, and a tendency to get behind early. Welcome to Hawaii, gentlemen.