The 2009/2010 University of Cincinnati Men's Basketball season should be exciting for Bearcat Fans as they plan to bounce back by returning eight of their top ten scorers and have also added highly recruited freshman Lance Stephenson and Oklahoma State transfer Ibrahima Thomas. The Bearcats will start Monday Night at Fifth Third Arena by taking on Prairie View A&M Panthers.
With a mix of new and old talent; these are some key players who must step up for the Bearcats to be as successful as we all hope.
It starts with 3rd Team All Big East guard Deonta Vaughn who led the team in scoring (15.3ppg), assists (4.66apg) and steals (1.34spg) a season ago has returned for his senior season. Vaughn, who is now making the transition to the shooting guard position for the Bearcats has got off to a slow start in exhibition play, “The adjustment for Deonta is that not every play is being run for him. We still need to get him some shots. We need to get him open looks. We have to make sure we are ready to do that. When the real running gets started, we need to get him open looks at the basket”, said Mick Cronin Thursday Night. Vaughn who has been the Bearcats do-it-all guard the last two seasons, should make the adjustment just fine, fans may just need to be a little patient as Mick Cronin implements his plan to get him involved off the ball.
Sophomore forward Yancy Gates may me more important then any other player on this team, for the success of the Bearcats in Big East play. The 6-9 sophomore must give them an offensive presence in the paint and own the boards to help Cincinnati take that next step, Gates also needs to become more offensively assertive to reach his massive potential.
Lance Stephenson will be a huge key at the offensive end of the floor, as the freshman from Brooklyn, New York has the ability to create with both hands off the dribble and has a nice soft shooting touch. Stephenson is smooth and is a pure scorer, which he showed against Bellarmine as he scored 15 points in just 17 minutes of play. He also has the ability to create for others with he passing ability. Defensively he still has improvement to make, as he has the tools to be a great defender, but he bails players out with silly fouls, shown when he was in foul trouble for most of the second half against Bellarmine in the last Exhibition.
Redshirt freshman point guard Cashmere Wright is returning from an injury which held him out for the entire 2008-2009 season and will run the show for the Bearcats as Mick Cronin’s point guard. Wright has nice explosion and seems to play above average defense on the ball, offensively he needs to become consistent with his jump shot and that should improve as time goes on, he does have a nice shooting touch, shown when he was 8-10 from the free throw line in the last exhibition.
Ibrahima Thomas will be cleared to play following completion of the fall quarter, and the former Oklahoma State Cowboy will add more length to a team who can be a mismatch problem for opponents with their size and athleticism.
Junior center Anthony McClain could also be a big part to this team, if and when he gets it. Mclain, has size (7’0) and a 255 pound frame that could help Gates, Steve Toyloy, and Thomas in the paint. The question is will McClain ever realize his potential, which is something that can’t be answered quite yet as the junior still has some seasoning to get in his development.
Also returning to the Bearcats and will be big factors are Dion Dixon, Larry Davis, Darnell Wilks, Rashad Bishop, and Toyloy. All have shown what they could bring to the table in the exhibition season, but need to show Mick Cronin that they can produce on a consistent basis to be relied on in big situations.
New to Bearcats this year will be Cincinnati (Ohio) Withrow guard Anthony McBride, Eddie Tyree who sat out 2008-2009 after transferring (Thomas More), Elder (Ohio) freshman guard Alex Eppensteiner, White Plains, NY guard Sean Kilpatrick, and Suffolk, Virginia guard Jaquon Parker.