Basketball notebook: Miami presents challenge

After picking up a 66-56 victory over Oklahoma in Oklahoma City on Saturday the Cincinnati Bearcats got back to work quickly upon returning home to get ready for a trip to Oxford to take on the Miami Redhawks Tuesday night.

Slow Start In OKC

The Bearcats have gotten in the habit of starting hot out of the gate in recent weeks, but stumbled early against the Sooner as they were tied at 4 with 15:12 on the clock. A jumper by Dion Dixon gave them a lead they would not relinquish, but head coach Mick Cronin felt the team tried to do too much early. While he wants he team to play with confidence, there is a fine line between executing and forcing the issue.

“I think what we tried to do was blow them out in the first 3 plays of the game,” Cronin said. “It's good to be confident, but you have to have the maturity to start each game being humble. We were just trying to do too much too soon. We were trying to make some great plays instead of being efficient.”

A main factor in the slow start was the play of Cashmere Wright. As is usually the problem when Wright struggles, he was trying to do too much on his own, and in turn hurting the flow of the offense. The sophomore point guard settled down after hearing from his fellow Bearcats and getting a spot next to Cronin on the bench.

It was just another learning experience for me personally,” said Wright. “I was trying to be aggressive, but in the wrong way. I was trying to attack but I was over dribbling and trying to do to much. My teammates just told me to settle down and play my game and coach sat me on the bench and told me you ain't going to play unless you do what I tell you to do and I think it helped me out a lot.”

Gates Asserts Himself On Block

Junior big man Yancy Gates took himself out of the mix 5 minutes into the 1st half with 2 personal fouls and hit the pine with 2 points and 4 rebounds for the next 15 minutes. His play in the 2nd half was a big lift to a team that was struggling from the perimeter, and Wright knows the team will need their big man to go to work when the shots aren't falling.

“I think it's a big thing because the hot shooting was gone that night,” Wright said. “When the shooting is going like that you've got to have a dominant presence inside because someone's got to score the ball. We were happy that he came alive in the 2nd half and was scoring and rebounding like he did.”

Redhawks Up Next

There is no time to feel good about the victory over Oklahoma as the Cats must travel to Oxford to take on Miami in Millett Hall for the first time since the 1992-1993 season. The Redhawks enter the game with a record of 5-6, but did take out Xavier in their gym 75-64. Head coach Charlie Coles is one of the true characters left in the sport, and his teams are known for their physical style of play. Cronin knows he must have his squad on top of their game if they want to enjoy the ride back home after a victory.

“His teams are hard to play against because they play defense,” Cronin said. “He's got some young guards this year and a little bit more of an offensive team. It's a different type of Miami team. I think he's probably using the Christmas break trying to change that and trying to make them a more consistent defensive team. They're probably the youngest Miami team we've played against since I've been the coach at Cincinnati.”

Wright has one game of experience in the series after scoring 12 points in a 63-59 victory at US Bank a season ago, and the Bearcat point guard knows victory is from from a sure thing because of how Miami plays the game.

“They play extremely hard every play,” said Wright. “They block out every play. Everything they do they do 100% and I heard it's hard to win there. It should be a good game.”

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