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November 13, 2011One game, one win.
Number 22 Cincinnati (1-0) knocked off the visiting Alabama State Hornets (0-2) by a score of 65-40. The imbalanced affair featured a Cincinnati team of both veteran leadership and a half dozen newcomers.
"I think we still have to get better on offense," said Yancy Gates.
Gates finished with a team-leading fifteen points.
"If we are going to be good we have to get it up to 75-80 range," said Gates. "Our defense is getting there. Rotations are getting better. We need more focus on offense. It is just getting used to each other. We have two new people in the starting lineup. Justin Jackson is more of a driver than Ibrahima Thomas was. SK is more of a true scorer than Rashad Bishop."
Coach Cronin did not think Yancy played his best despite the senior's eleven rebounds.
"I think he would tell you his most dissapointing number is 3-7 from the free throw line," said Coach Cronin. "I think it shows how good he is to get a double double when he doesn't play his best."
The opposing coach saw it from an entirely different perspective.
"Gates just overpowered us," said ASU Coach Lewis Jackson. "I think he is a real outstanding player on both ends of the court."
Also scoring in double figures were Cashmere Wright(10), Dion Dixon(14), and Sean Kilpatrick (13).
After the game Coach Cronin spoke at length about a recent conversation he and SK shared.
"He is a great kid," said Coach Cronin. "He is very, very competitive. He is almost in nervous breakdown mode sometimes. He has to realize that being a basketball player is not all about shooting."
Kilpatrick entered college with a scorer's reputation. Like many he is now learning to round out his game.
"These guys all have aspirations," said Coach Cronin. "But you have to play the game. I challenged him to be a more floor leader. We just really had a talk. We talked about what it is to be a basketball player. It is about to be a player. We had the same talk with Cashmere and Dion Dixon. We had a team talk Friday. We talked about roles. Guys have hopes and dreams. You have to play hard."
This team has a chance to be very, very good. Of course there are going to bumps in the road, but rebounding from the guards, defense from the bench, and effort from the bigs are all needed in addition to points.
"He knows his limits with me," said Kilpatrick. "He knows how to get me amped up. He tells me how to be effective."
Octavius Ellis, Jeremiah Davis, Jermaine Sanders, Ge'Lawn Guyn, and Kelvin Gaines all made their collegiate debuts.
The first to score was Guyn who currently claims sixth man status with Jaquon Parker out.
Coach Cronin says Parker will be out at least another game or two. The groin tear could keep him out "two to six weeks."
Midway through the second half Ellis notched his first career bucket.
"Since Cheikh (Mbodj) went down it gave him more opportunity in practice," said Coach Cronin. "He is the guy who is the rawest on our team. He will admit it right away,
'What is a pivot foot?' He actually said that."
Coach Cronin considered redshirting the thin center.
"I thought about it," said Coach Cronin. "I was concerned about his development. When I looked at practice he is such a fighter. I have seen how much he improved during the first three weeks. If he continues to improve he is going to be able to help us."
The Memphis-product finished with six points.
Defensively, Ellis truly lit up the room with two blocks. In all the Bearcats swatted ten shots away. This is a very different UC team. They have many long defenders with Ellis and Gaines blossoming.
Mbodj is getting closer to returning. He is now doing what Coach Cronin labels "floor work" including dribbling and slides.
Cincinnati returns to action Tuesday night against Jacksonville State.