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January 28, 2009

Bearcats looking to keep momentum

The Cincinnati Bearcats enter Wednesday night's matchup with the Georgetown Hoyas with a 13-7 record, and a 3-4 record in conference. However, if it were not for the Bearcats double digit comeback against a tough St. John's team last Tuesday night, things could be a whole lot worse.

The Bearcats hope to use a comeback win of that magnitude as a catalyst to jump start the rest of their young Big East season. On Tuesday, a few of the players along with Coach Cronin met with the media to discuss the state of the team headed into their conference showdown with Georgetown.

Yancy Gates was one of the players involved, and he started things off by talking about the importance of their win last Tuesday.

"It helps our confidence because that was the first time on the road that we have come back and actually sealed the win," said Gates. "So that helped boost our confidence."

He continued on about the win, specifically discussing the importance of Deonta Vaughn's big second half.

"Deonta is our most experienced player on the team, and he is the captain of the team," said Gates. "So a lot of the time we have to look to him to make some big plays for us, and when he comes through it makes us a lot better."

While the win versus St. Johns may not be a marquee win in the eyes of most, Dion Dixon will be the first to tell you that any win in the Big East, especially on the road, is a big one.
"Every win is a big win for us," said Dixon. "We are trying to get better every game. I look at every game as a big game in the Big East because each win is so important if you want to get a good seed in the Big East playoffs.

Dixon attributes the recent improvements to team chemistry; something he says has improved immensely over the past few weeks.

"I think we are finally getting on the same page, said Dixon. "We were always on the same page but people didn't know what to expect because they hadn't played before. But everyone is starting to gain experience. We are young, and we are just starting to learn how to win. We are just trying to play hard and get better."

The win against St. Johns was a big one, but the Bearcats have long since moved on and turned their focus to the rest of the season. The first task - defeat a Georgetown team who has lost each of its last 3 and will no doubt be prepared to play.

Yancy Gates says while each win in the Big East is huge, this one would be particularly important when it comes to moving up in the standings.

"We have the same record, so it will help us move up," said Gates. "It would also be a quality win for us."

He continued on discussing Georgetown, and talked about the importance of keeping their focus on Georgetown and not looking ahead to the rest of the brutal stretch that lies ahead.

"It means a lot coming into practice that week," said Gates. "Coach lets us know. But as far as looking ahead, we don't pay attention to any of that. We feel like we have made some progress, but we also think there are a lot more steps that need to be taken."

Coach Cronin acknowledged that the schedule the Bearcats will face over the next few weeks would serve as a daunting task for everyone, but says he doesn't see any reason why they can't emerge with a better record.

"We have ten opponents left in the Big East, and last year we beat seven of these teams," said Cronin. "So I keep hearing people say how Cincinnati has a though stretch, but last year we beat most of these teams."

"But the thing to remember is last year in those wins we gave us 53 points per game, 36 percent shooting, and 23 percent 3 point shooting," said Cronin. "So we will have to duplicate that kind of defensive effort. It's all about outplaying your opponent between the lines and hopefully our guys realize that. By now we should have enough experience to win these games that we have remaining starting with the game on Wednesday night," said Cronin. "It's just a tough league to have to grow up in."

Cronin also touched on the notion of must-win games, saying that every game in the Big East could be considered must win.

"I think the whole idea of a must-win mentality is overrated because with the difficult schedule that everyone faces, everyone takes a must win mentality into every game," said Cronin.

If the Bearcats hope to turn around their season and compete for an elusive NCAA tournament berth, they will undoubtedly need to do it with stout defense and unselfish basketball. Their first test will come Wednesday night when they take on a Georgetown team that is hungry for victory. If they can manage a win, it will give the team the confidence they need to finish strong down the stretch and achieve their goals.


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