Last night saw Cincinnati return to the energetic and aggressive style of play that has been the hallmark of Bearcat basketball under Mitch Cronin. The result was a 72 to 48 blowout win over Wagner. The Bearcat defense wasn’t just tough. It was tyrannical. The team blocked a dozen shots and altered countless others. Octavius Ellis showed himself to be just as ruthless as the Roman Emperor with whom he shares a name as he continued to establish himself as one of the nation’s most explosive and intimidating paint players. He finished the game with three blocks, while Gary Clark, Quadri Moore, and Coreontae DeBerry each had two. The Seahawks shot under 30% from the floor. The defense was disruptive away from the basket too. The passing lanes were narrowed as the Cats made 54 disruptive deflections and forced 16 turnovers.
This dominant defensive performance was complemented with a balanced and disciplined offensive attack. Kevin Johnson lead all scorers with 11 points. Ellis, Moore, and Shaq Thomas each contributed ten.
The team was undeniably and understandably dispirited after learning of Cronin’s health problems before Saturday’s game against VCU. Last night’s performance, however, shows that the players have at least started to pull together, toughen up, and focus on only those things that they have the power to change. That has to have put a smile on Cronin’s face.
One last thought: Octavius has started to remind me of a certain Bearcat legend. What do you think?
Merry Christmas! Go Bearcats!
By Rhett Lemmel