Dec. 31, 2016
Recapping the Temple game
?What it Means
This was a huge win for the Bearcats and one that can really enhance their resume come March. Temple always plays a very difficult non conference schedule and this year was no exception under their excellent coach Fran Dunphy.
Wins over then #25 Florida State as well as #19 West Virginia in the NIT Season Tipoff at MSG around Thanksgiving really made a statement to what this team is capable when they are clicking on all cylinders.
They also challenged themselves in a big 5 rivalry loss to #1 Villanova. And while they have head scratching losses to New Hampshire, Umass, and GW, and their 9-5 won't blow you away, their RPI sits at 30 according to RPIForecast.com. You have to figure with the ability of Obi Enechionyia, their 6-10" PF as well as the guard play of Alston, Dingle, and Rose, to go with a great coach who just last year won AAC Coach of the Year, and a battle tested team, they will find themselves near the top of the league.
This win puts UC at #28 in the RPI and in prime to challenge for both a league title and high seed in the NCAA Tournament. With that said let's get to the positives and negatives and look forward.
1. UC found a way to win this game. Aside from a quick 9-1 start, this was ugly on both sides with neither team able to find a consistent rhythm on offense. UC ranks 19th in defensive efficiency according to teamrankings.com, so this was more their type of game compared to Temple which ranks 125th and is more of a free flowing offensive team. With UC shooting less than 33% and Temple a whopping 26.7 it was good to see UC grind out a victory against a quality opponent on the road.
2. Jarron Cumberland comes to life. While we all know how highly rated he was coming out of HS and have seen the potential in some of the guarantee games, this is the first time he made a major contribution in a "big" game. He has struggled all year with his 3 point stroke, as he came into the game shooting around 35%. Not horrible but capable of better. Well in this game he made two huge 3's, including one that gave them the lead, 41-39 at the 10:29 mark of the 2nd half. They would never trail again. He also made a really nice outlet pass off a defensive rebound that led to a Jacob Evans layup a few minutes later. In 19 minutes, he finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Not overwhelming, but you could really see him impacting the game and giving UC some much needed punch off the bench.
3. Gary Clark developing into a go to threat inside. We've seen Gary dominate in the paint in his 3 years in Clifton but he seemed a bit passive at times with the emergence of Kyle Washington. Well with Kyle struggling, the confident Gary has returned and he's shown off his nice moves in the paint to go with his rebounding, shot blocking, passing, and occasional 3 pointer. Gary had 11 points and 6 rebounds in this one to follow up his monster 26 and 10 performance against Marshall that netted him AAC player of the week. He now has double figure points in 4 of his last 6 games, and rebounds in 3 of his last 6.
?1. The sudden disappearance of Kyle Washington. The NC St transfer stated off the year on fire, almost too good to be true for Bearcat fans. His combination of shooting on the outside and scoring and rebounding in the paint gave them a lethal 6-9 230 versatile dynamo the program had not seen in recent times. However lately we have seen a regression that includes missing a lot of shots, getting in foul trouble, and just being a liability defensively. It happened again Wednesday as Kyle was limited to 2-9 shooting for 6 points in just 18 minutes. He did have 7 rebounds, but this marks the 4th single digit performance in 5 games, and he hasn't had 10 rebounds since Dec 1 at Iowa St. More alarming is his lack of playing time down the stretch, and head coach Mick Cronin's preferal to play the more athletic, energetic defender in Tre Scott.
?The Bearcats next play Sunday night at Tulane. To say this should be a layup is a understatement. The Green Wave enter the contest with a paltry 3-10 record and an RPI of 302. No need to break this matchup. Suffice it to say, this game may very well be over by halftime on New Years Day