Overall Rank: #99
Conference Rank: #12 Big East
2006-07: 11-19, 2-14, 16th
2006-07 postseason: none
Cincinnati was absolutely horrible last season. For a couple years they have had make shift teams held together by junior college transfers and football players. This year, Coach Mick Cronin will take the first major step to taking the Bearcats back to where they belong. The talent level for the experienced players still has quite a bit of work to do, but for the first time in a long time there will actually be some depth to work with.
With the increase of talent, nobody will be missed that much. However, Cedric McGowan did an admirable job holding down the frontcourt during the dark ages of Cincinnati basketball. The forward averaged 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds during his senior campaign. Fellow big man Ronald Allen has wrapped up his collegiate career after seeing limited action with the Bearcats last year. Guard Tim Crowell is transferring after playing a limited role, mostly off the bench, in 2006-2007.
There is plenty of young talent to go around, but the two biggest impact players are not freshmen. Adam Hrycaniuk sat out last year due to amateurism issues and the 6-10 senior is expected to step into a starting role right away. Another very likely starter is Mike Williams, a transfer from Texas. The 6-7 forward spent most of his career waiting on the Longhorn bench, but the former McDonald’s All-American is a great athlete and post defender who should excel with more playing time. Anthony McClain will not hand over any starting jobs in the post to Hrycaniuk and Williams. The 6-11 freshman is a polished low post scorer and major presence on the defensive end. With a little more aggressiveness, McClain will be a star this year. Kenny Belton, a 6-7 power forward, lacks a dynamic scoring touch, but he is a strong and tough player who will find a role off the bench. Alvin Mitchell, Rashad Bishop, Larry Davis and Darnell Wilks will battle for minutes on the wings. Mitchell is the most talented of the quartet and, if he can develop a consistent shot, will play at the two and three spots this year.
Who to Watch:
The difference between missing the Big East Tournament and making the NCAA Tournament will be the play of Deonta Vaughn, Jamual Warren and Marvin Gentry on the perimeter. By the numbers, Vaughn had a decent freshman campaign, averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds. However, his shooting was inconsistent and the ballhandling skills were about the same. As long as Vaughn can take better care of the ball, he will be a solid point guard. Shooting guard Warren could take over that if he has too, but he will likely be relegated to the bench unless his outside shooting develops more consistency. Gentry did not prove he was a great shooter either last year, but the senior could take over a starting role. The group has to shoot better to be effective or their minutes will decrease in favor of freshman Mitchell.
With the addition of Williams and Hrycaniuk, John Williamson will see most of his minutes at the small forward spot. The 6-6 senior averaged 13.5 points and a team high 7.3 boards last season. He will not have to do all that work on the glass this season, but he will add another solid rebounder to team. Williamson does not have the ability to step out and consistently hit the three ball, although he can and will occasionally, but he is really a tweener. Williamson will not be the shooter Coach Cronin needs, so it is imperative that whoever ends up at the two guard spot can hit the long ball. Marcus Sikes will feel the biggest pinch from the newcomers up front. While he can play the three and four spots, Sikes will probably spend his senior year coming off the bench. He is not a great shooter, but was the best on the team last year from beyond the arc. That should not be the case again this year and if it is, the Bearcats are in trouble.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Deonta Vaughn, Sophomore, Guard, 14.5 points per game
Marvin Gentry, Senior, Guard, 7.4 points per game
John Williamson, Senior, Forward, 13.5 points per game
Mike Williams, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Adam Hrycaniuk, Senior, Center, DNP last season