Manhandled. That’s how Maryland Eastern Shore Coach Frankie Allen described how the No. 11 Cincinnati Bearcats (9-0) beat his team 92-60.
“They killed us on the boards with their size, their strength, their athleticism,” Allen said. ”They shot the ball pretty well against our zone, but they just manhandled us once they shot it and missed it. Their rebounding and their strength were just too much for us.”
The Bearcats have proven to be “just too much” for every team they’ve played this year. With size and agility the Bearcats are out hustling and outmuscling opponents, something Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin preaches and teaches.
Cincinnati has held six of its last nine opponents below 40 percent shooting. Against Arkansas Little Rock, the Bearcats set a record with 70 deflections and 22 steals. ”Seven years as a coach here and we made 70 deflections. I believe we had 39 at the half,” said Cronin.
That’s the kind of “in your face” pressure the Bearcats put on opponents. Relentless and intense, the Bearcats defense demoralizes teams and leads to easy baskets for their explosive offense.
After the Arkansas Little Rock game, guard Sean Kilpatrick talked about how the Bearcats defense wears down opponents. “You can tell when they are tired because we continue to sub in fresh legs. That’s the strength with our team. We have so many guys that can play multiple positions. We have a lot of depth on our team, so when they are rattled like that it is better for us because they start to turn the ball over and we get easy buckets like layups.”
Alabama Coach Anthony Gant called the Bearcats defense the best in the country. ”He’s got a deep basketball team and I think they’re going to be really, really good,” said Gant. ”They all buy into what he’s telling them they need to do. They play extremely hard and they seem to play for one another and enjoy competing together. That’s always the mark of a good team, a well-coached team.”
Merlisa blogs about Big East basketball. Follow her on Twitter: @merlisa