The return of top scorer and team leader Sean Kilpatrick, the 2013-14 Cincinnati Bearcats Men’s basketball team will have a fresh look as the Bearcats as they say hello to a new crop of talented freshmen.
In his eighth season as head coach for the Bearcats Mick Cronin has compiled a 135-100 record. He’s 74-31 in the last three years with three NCAA Tournament appearances and needs 20 wins to pass George Smith for second place in victories among UC coaches. Bob Huggins is first of course with 399.
UC’s talented freshman class of Jermaine Lawrence, Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson, Deshaun Morman and Jamaree Strickland was rated as the 24th best class in the country by ESPN.com such a big thing for this program. Lawrence, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward ranked No. 35 nationally by ESPN.com, is the biggest name in the class and will make an immediate impact right away for the team.
Lawrence is the second-highest ranked recruit during the Cronin era behind Lance Stephenson who is now in the NBA as the sixth man for the Indiana Pacers but Lawrence missed most of his senior year in high school due to surgery on his right wrist.
One of the big questions for UC as the season apporaches is who will replace Wright at point guard. Junior Ge’Lawn Guyn is the as of now the apparent replacement after serving as Wright’s backup the past two years. But he’ll be challenged by Caupain who has impressed Cronin.
The front line that consisit of 6-foot-8 senior Justin Jackson has made great strides during the off-season, according to Cronin, after averaging 3.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last year with 41 blocked shots. He has gained 19 pounds and now weighs 229.Cronin expects 7 foot senior center David Nyarsuk to be more of a factor this season after gaining 29 pounds and having a year of college ball which will help him big time this season.
But Kilpatrick remains the go to player on this team and the leader. The senior guard averaged 17 points last year, which ranked fifth in the Big East. He was a second team all conference and played for Team USA in the World University Games this past summer, averaging 7.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in eight games. He was name preseason first team all AAC this past week.
Defensively the Bearcats will press full court to take advantage of their depth. Cronin said this could be the best defensive team he’s had at UC.
“We’re all about length and athleticism,” Cronin said. “We’ll be much more of a trapping team, in the post, in the press, using our speed and using our strengths.”
UC’s first exhibition game is Oct. 26 against Carleton University at Fifth Third Arena. The regular-season opener is Nov. 8 vs. North Carolina Central at Fifth Third. During Media day for the AAC (American Athletic Conference) the Bearcats were picked to finish 4th in the conference and they weren’t in the top 25 for the preseason poll that came out yesterday. I expect this team to be back in the NCAA Tournament for the 4th straight year hopefully they won’t one and done like last season.