I begin with the bad – the Bearcats lost another game on the road, this time to Temple in front of Connor Barwin, SK, and Big Jason Kelce. Oh, and you and me. Bottom line is that they were outplayed from the first whistle. Some game recaps require a song, so here goes Smokey:
While there’s little to applaud about UC’s energy, defense, offense, or anything else, this may be the perfect time to describe tonight’s game utilizing a simile or two…
1) On the road, the Bearcats compete like Nic Cage on Oscar night.
It seems like every road game the Bearcats stumble out of the blocks. Tonight was no different. They gave up an early lead in the first half, and never seemed to gain a footing in the game. UC had 10 turnovers in the first half alone. Coming into the game UC averaged 13 turnovers/game.
Why do they struggle? It’s hard to say. Gary Clark popped his patella in the last outing. He’s obviously not 100% as he didn’t figure prominently in the second half strategy. Jermaine Sanders, whose senior leadership has made a big difference of late, took three 3 pointers and missed them all. He was a nonfactor.
But here’s the thing, the Bearcats didn’t play that bad on offense. UC shot 52% from the floor and 43% from three. Tonight’s loss isn’t attributable to offensive struggles, which leaves…
2) Temple ran through UC’s 2-3 zone like a tornado through a trailer park.
Typically I lament our offensive inefficiencies. Tonight our defense was porous. Temple got way too many open looks, in the paint and behind the arc. Worse yet, the Bearcats remained in the 2-3 match-up zone the bulk of the game. The 2-3 zone is most effective when opponents struggle to shoot from the perimeter; Temple didn’t – they shot 50% from the floor.
Now, if you just compare the percentages, it looks like Temple and UC shot with the same accuracy tonight. However, the numbers lie. Temple shot 50% from the floor (which is 2% lower than UC’s shooting percentage), but they took 14 more shots.
3) UC handed out turnovers like a teenage Arby’s worker to his buddies in the drive thru.
Okay, that simile was a stretch. And based on personal experience.
Nevertheless, UC turned the ball over 17 times. To win tough conference road games, you cannot turn the ball over. The Bearcats did. As a consequence, UC’s young players got swallowed up by the hostile Philly environment, and Temple hoisted 14 more shots to rim and hit half of them.
4) Without Cobb starting (or at least contributing early), the Bearcats offense is as out of step as suburban kids at a middle school dance.
Farad Cobb should start. Not because “he deserves it” or any sanctimonious reason like that. Not because KJ is terrible. KJ is far from terrible. Typically, KJ is a streaky shooter who plays good defense. Over the weekend he caught fire and saved UC from a catastrophic loss to USF at home. Thanks, KJ.
Even so, Cobb should start because the offense flows better when he’s on the court. Tonight he hit for 13. There are two players that can make it happen off the dribble – Caupain and Cobb. On the road we always come out slow, so UC must do everything possible to catalyze early point production.
Okay, enough of the post-mortem. We lost because we deserved to lose tonight.
Here’s the deal, Bearcat Nation, I think we need a motto to get us through the rest of this season. There’s been a lot of ups (at home) and downs (on the road). I suggest – “Dum spiro spero.” The Latin phrase translates, “While I breathe, I hope.” I received this encouraging phrase from a Twitter follower (@RuhRohReuben) and thought it applicable.
So we lost a road game. The season goes on. We’re still a tourney team. Temple, by the way, is a legit team. And Xavier is only 8 days away from trying to invade 5/3rd arena with some of its student section.
Dum spiro spero. Go Bearcats!
By Brian Fox