As the Cincinnati Bearcats prepare for the start of the 2010-2011 season, head coach Mick Cronin is preparing his team to run a new look offense after the departure of leading scorers Deonta Vaughn and Lance Stephenson.
The new system is designed around sharing the basketball, and involving all five players on the court in the flow of the offense. Cronin feels this group will excel by moving without the ball and making the reads to find a teammate in position to score.
“We have our different things we'll look for early in the clock, but after that it's more of a sharing of the basketball and guys playing to their strengths,” said Cronin. “The open man is the open man. Instead of trying to force it to one guy or trying to run a play for one guy, it's more take what the defense gives you. It's more space oriented and motion oriented.”
Sophomore point guards Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker will be counted on to trigger the action, and Wright is enjoying the new opportunities the system is creating in those early shot clock situations.
“I love it. Coach Cronin is giving me the chance to run and when the ball comes off the rim, it's just go,” said Wright. “Last year you had to slow it down and make sure the plays were set, but right now we're just running and sharing the ball and everyone's happy.”
While Wright excels in the up tempo game, Parker is the half court floor general. Even though they may look at things a bit different, Parker also likes what he is seeing on the court.
“It's going great. Everybody can get the ball wherever they feel comfortable. If you want to come off a pick and roll you can, and if you want to run off screens that's there too.”
Cronin and his staff used the 10 practices leading up to the September trip to Canada as a crash course in the new system, and he feels they are ahead of schedule in executing the new offense.
“The guys have been schooled in off the ball movement and passing is the big thing for us. Getting your teammate a shot and getting yourself a shot by your cuts.” said Cronin “We're looking to get a lot done off the basketball, and the guy with the ball is looking to make the right pass.”
Cronin knows there are questions about where the scoring will come from with Vaughn and Stephenson gone, but he is confident that his guys will fill the void.
“We're just trying to emphasize make the easy pass and take our time because we have enough guys that can score. I know that's not the prevailing thought out there right now, but I think we'll be able to dispel that notion.”
Wright and his teammates have responded well to the new philosophy, and they welcome the concept of spreading the wealth on the offensive end.
“When you have a chance for anybody to score it makes everyone happy,” Wright said. “You never know who's going to lead the team in scoring right now, so you just have to bring your “A” game every day. You never know when it's going to be your night.”