26-9 overall, 11-7 Big East (T-6th)
Mick Cronin (6th season, 87-77)
Projected starting five:
G: Cashmere Wright, Jr.
G: Dion Dixon, Jr.
G: Sean Kilpatrick, So.
F: Justin Jackson, So.
C: Yancy Gates, Sr.
Rashad Bishop 8.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.7 apg
Ibrahima Thomas 5.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Inside the numbers:
66 percent scoring returning
64 percent rebounding returning
F: Shaquille Thomas, 6’6”, 165 – Rivals #81
F: Jermaine Sanders 6’4”, 205 – Rivals #131
G: Jeremiah Davis, 6’3”, 195 – ESPNU Pos. #43
Toughest nonconference game: 12/10 at (15) Xavier
Toughest in-conference stretch: 1/18 – 1/23 at (4) Connecticut, at West Virginia, at (5) Syracuse
5th in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament
What to expect:
A lot of how the Bearcats do this year is dependent on Yancy Gates and his “want-to.” Gates has been hit-or-miss in his time in Cincinnati, playing up to his potential at the end of last season, which has given Bearcat fans the hope that he will continue his upward trend. However, Gates’ midseason dismissal for lack of effort looms in the back of the minds of Cincinnati fans.
Returning four starters from last year should help the Bearcats continue their trend of regaining national prominence. Sean Kilpatrick has a lot of expectations to fulfill this year. The sophomore is touted as UC’s microwave, giving Cincinnati an outside threat to balance Gates on the inside.
Coach Mick Cronin has handled predicament well over the past six years at the helm. Taking some hits along the way, the Cincinnati native has once again brought the Bearcats into the preseason rankings with the belief that 22nd is the lowest they will be ranked all year. A solid starting five and a talented young bench should help the Bearcats build on their second-round dismissal from the NCAA Tournament a year ago.