Afternoon Tea with the Enemy

By DJ Byrnes on March 22, 2012 at 1:30p
RT @1BrettG: Can't ban the snowmanEven for an OSU fan, this one hurt.

If you ever find yourself lost in a vortex of decadent decay... and thus find yourself attempting to Stump the Schwab in some bootleg ESPN Classic studio tucked away in a back-alley of Hell... ask the following question: "Who was the last American-born, four-year collegiate player to be taken #1 in the NBA Draft?"

Because the Schwab is the Devil wearing a human skin costume six times too big for him, he might know the answer to be "Kenyon Martin", the #1 draft pick of the 2000 NBA Draft; however, this is the best sports-related trivia question I have in my repertoire. 

Because I was twelve when he was at the heights of his powers, I have always associated Cincinnati basketball with Kenyon Martin. He's definitely a key rotational player on my "Guys I Love To Watch But Would Never Want Within 500 Yards of My Favorite Team" team, but Kenyon Martin is always bringing the ruckus, and for that, I respect him.

I loathe the entire city of Cincinnati and its greater metropolitan area, but I have always held a soft-spot in my heart for Cincinnati basketball. This game won't feature Kenyon Martin, but it will feature another boss hogg outlaw by the name of "Yancy Gates". Let's just say, the poor execution and refereeing which usually mire college basketball games won't deter me from watching this banger. (A midnight screening of The Hunger Games will. :-X)

Being such, Scott from the Bearcats Blog and I sat down over tea and crumpets to see what he thought of tonight's tilt. (9:45; CBS.)

11W: "The Brawl" was a turning point for your Bearcats' season. Looking back, do you feel it brought your team closer together? I feel like going through something like that in an environment like Xavier could only strengthen the bonds between a team.

UCBB: You would be correct about that. Pretty much to a man the Bearcats said that the events of that day brought them closer together. Many of the players said that they started playing for each other then. It was the jolt that this team needed. They were 5-3 after getting the brakes beat off by Xavier. The team without Gates changed their identity. For a while there, UC was a trapping, running team. They morphed again into a half court team later in the season.

The suspensions let the players define their roles as well. With Gates out of the picture, Parker, Wright, Kilpatrick and Dixon all had their chances to see where they fit in the offense. Once Gates came back, and the rotation was settled, this team had it's identity. 

11W: Yancy Gates didn't need to knock out a scrub from Xavier before I knew I would "go to war" with him. Am I right in that premonition? As a four-year stalwart who is often playing with four guards, can you crystallize what Mr. Gates means to his team?

UCBB: I think you are correct there. If you remember down the stretch last season, Gates was a beast and really carried Cincinnati to the NCAA tournament. This year, Gates has upped his game in the biggest moments of the season. Starting with the last regular season game against Villanova, he's been a different player. he scored 16 and had 9 boards in a tightly contested game. Against Georgetown in the Big East tournament, it was Gates who scored 10 in a row for the Bearcats as they made a big comeback and won in OT. Gates followed that with a big time 18-7 game against Syracuse in the victory over them. When UC needed points late against Texas, Gates scored 4 of the 6 points that decided the game. Even though he didn't have a flashy numbers game against FSU, Gates played very well defensively and scored big points when needed.

He's the heart of the team. Read anything Mick Cronin or any of the players say about him. Gates brings the team to another level when he steps up. If he's having an off game, the team suffers. Look at the Louisville BET final. He was tired and just didn't have gas in the tank. UC lost. For better or worse, Gates is the face of Cincinnati basketball. 

11W: There will be a lot of pre-game clucking about the Gates/Jared Sullinger match-up. How do you see this duel going down? 

UCBB: Normally when there is a lot of talk about a big time post matchup, one of the key players ends up in foul trouble and the whole thing is for naught.

It's going to be very interesting to see if Sullinger can get positioning on Gates. Both men use their bodies well offensively. Sullinger's ability to draw fouls could be the biggest part of the game. Gates doesn't have a lot of plays run through him. Rebounding is how he gets shots. If Sullinger keeps him off the glass, that could make Gates ineffective. I'm really interested to see how it plays out. 

11W: Ken Pomeroy says Ohio State is the best in defensive efficiency. (.084 points per possession.) Cincinnati is 22nd, giving up .91 points per possession. Does fifty points win this game?

UCBB: I don't think it will be that slowly played that the first to 50 would win it. I think the first to 60 will though. There are going to be no easy shots in the half court, that's for damn sure. It might not be a pretty game.

11W: This is only the second meeting between the two schools on the hardwood in 50 years. The last time they met, Ohio State ran the Bearcats out of the gym, 72-50, in the 2006 Wooden Tradition. How much would a W over the Buckeyes mean to Cincinnati and its fans?

UCBB: A win over Ohio State would mean a hell of a lot. The story in every UC fans head is that Ohio State refuses to play UC and the 1 time they did was when they knew Cincinnati was going to be horrible. It would be bragging rights for sure. Games against local powers like Ohio State and Kentucky get the fans a little more pumped up. The Kentucky game a few years ago in the second round of the tournament was a special game. The fact the teams will finally meet in the tournament after being teased with potential meetings in the early 2000s and one in 92 that Ohio St didn't hold their end of the deal on, pushes the excitement over the edge.

11W: Do you hate Aaron Craft? If not, do you realize how much you will come to hate him by the end of the game?

UCBB: Haha I don't hate Aaron Craft. I have already written rough drafts for the tweets, "that was a foul," "he flopped," and "Craft sucks." Between you and I, he's one of my favorite players to watch. His knack for turning people over by any means, specifically steals, is something you really don't see much. The thing I'm prepared to hate the most about him is how he will finish with something like 25 points and drive me insane. Know what, I kind of do hate Aaron Craft now.

11W: The Bearcats were the worst shooting free throw team in the Big East this year. Does that worry you at all?

UCBB: I can honestly say that it does not worry me. It terrifies me. The foul shooting in the Texas game was god awful, 8-16. It was a part of the reason that Texas got back in the game. Then out of nowhere, UC comes out the second half against Florida State and knocks down everything.

No one on this team is a great foul shooter. No one is over 80%. Only 2 guys are better than 70%, Kilpatrick and Dixon. Free throws aren't a big part of the Cincinnati offense, they take something like 16 a game, and they don't take advantage of them. If the game comes down to a free throw shooting contest, it probably wouldn't work out well for UC. Especially if it involved knocking down 1 and 1's late.

11W: Who wins and why?

UCBB: I think Ohio State is going to win. I think there is just a little bit too much talent on that bench. The UC offense needs second chance points to survive, OSU is a great defensive rebounding team. I think UC can turn OSU over enough to get some transition baskets. I think it will be a close game throughout. To your question above, I think if someone hits 60, they will win. I think it's going to be the Buckeyes. 


Comments Show All Comments

Tim's picture

I think UC fans should be more worried about Craft laying someone out than flopping.

LadyBuck's picture

I still can't believe how hard Draymon Green went down after running into Craft in the BTT championship game. Funniest part afterward was the fact that Craft didn't show any signs of the collision. 

Nappy's picture

I think there is just a little bit too much talent on that bench.

This is news to Matta

Good interview.  Warren G. would be proud.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

Irricoir's picture

He finally does and story/interview without mentioning the guy and you have to bring him up. GG nappy.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Nappy's picture

I thought of you when I wrote it.  Figured you'd appreciate it.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

Irricoir's picture

/bro hug

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Nappy's picture

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

snoodogg22's picture

^^^^^^Haha that's the first thing I thought in regards to the too much talent on the bench comment.

Tough times never last, tough people do

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

How did 4 guard play work out for Mizzou?  This is what I think of when trying not to be nervous.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Lulz @ the Battle Royale, but no one gets it when I talk about Harry Potter....

...but seriously, you aren't watching this game are you?

Bucksfan's picture

Ohio State by all accounts should win this game.  They have the advantage in pretty much every statistical category at every position, except for steals, turnover margin, and blocks. If UC gets a big lead early with their perimeter shooting, as they've done against good teams, it will be tough to catch them with the solid D they play.  They're not always good from long range, but they do take a lot of 3-point shots.  Plus, UC found themselves in foul trouble early against FSU, but were able to hang on.  They can't afford foul trouble in this one.

This is a mildy favorable matchup for OSU, but it's not a walk, and it's definitely tougher than the two teams they have faced so far.

ARMYBUCK's picture

Ive seen both these teams play this year and they are inseperable when it comes to being inconsistant.  Ive seen both teams look like it was their first year of organized basketball at times and both have looked like they can beat anyone in the country at other times.  Which team is going to show up?  I say Buckeyes and my gut feeling is they will pull away!  GO BUCKS!

3technique's picture

I gotta go with the bearcats here in the only stat that matters. the WILL TO WIN!! You guys can make fun of me if they get blown out.. I love this site and I will be back. Also, if UC is lucky enough to win I will not rub it in.. UC is the only D-1 team I would root against the bucks (it's the team that I grew up on.)" And UC would have won the national title if it weren't for K-Mart getting hurt. He brought it every game,contested every shot, and got a ton of rebounds. They also had two McDonald's all-americans in the backcourt(both recruited by Cronin).. It STILL bothers me enough to put an asterisk next to MSU's title...

BrewstersMillions's picture

Come on 3. Be better than this. Give us a reason why you think Cinci will win. I'll give you my reason OSU will. Craft's on ball D, shutting down Cicni's ability to penetrate the lane and Cinci's inability to stop Jared and Thomas down low. Will to Win? Come on dude....If you are going to come to an OSU site and say that they are going down give us something more.

As for the * and MSU....Sparty beat a hell of a Florida team with a PG on one foot for a large part of that you can put me down for 0 shares of that stock....

3technique's picture

UC will win because Yancy will get Sullinger in fould trouble, Kilpatrick will drop 20, and the under rated Wright will control tempo and get steals.. They will also finally play a complete game and actually hit threes and free throws.. On paper and in a 7 game serious UC has no shot, but one and done they definitely do. Thomas is amazing and will get his but Jaquon Parker will out rebound him (just like against a bigger FSU)... Also guard play is what gets you past this round and Cincy has it in spades.. I know it is hard to say about KMART but that team could play any style, score at will, and block a ton of shots. Maybe they would not have won but they certainly would have been the favorite to win it.. I love OSU and ,maybe if I didn't know this UC team so well I would root for the bucks. I have watched this squad built from scratch after the Huggins firing and it has been painful.. I hope they bring out the 62 throwback jerseys.. Good luck to the bucks and if they win I will be in their corner the rest of the tourney...

btalbert25's picture

It's impossible to say if a team would've won a title or not.  Last year if Sully went down before the tournament we all may be here today saying yeah but c'mon we know Ohio State would of won the title without a doubt!  Well, we know what happened to the Buckeyes with Sully in the tournament last year. I thought Kentucky would win it all no problem 2 years ago, and Louisville the year before that.  All could of lost a key piece and made the same claim you are making about UC with Martin.

I do think the year Martin went down late in the season, UC would of been really tough to beat, but there are no guarrentees in March Madness.

thatlillefty's picture

Way to actually write about the game. I'm proud of you Donald.

K Mart was the man. Let's go bucks!

onetwentyeight's picture

OK I AM SICK AND TIRED of the influx of folks today CHIRPING (yes, that's right, UC fans all CHIRP) about how "I love the buckeyes and root for them in football .... butttt I root for UC in basketball and always have" (as if that somehow makes it OKAY). NO IT IS NOT OKAY. THIS IS A tOSU BUCKEYES SITE. IF YOURE A UC FAN YOURE A TRAITOR AND OUR ENEMY. Get your napoleon inferority complex BS outta here. I don't want to hear it. If you are an OSU alum or a self-purported "OSU fan" you can't PICK AND CHOOSE what sport you "root" for us in. THIS AINT A BUFFET LINE. I don't care that you "grew up" rooting for UC bball or "always have", that just means you chose to root for a basketball team that was historically better than OSU's when you were growing up. We call this bandwagon behavior. If you now are an OSU alum or "fan" during football season it's INEXCUSABLE for you to BETRAY BUCKEYE NATION and stab us in the back by rooting for UC when they play basketball, especially against us. 

I grew up in Louisiana and when I went to OSU I cast all the collegiate allegiances I had aside. When LSU played us in the NCG I rooted DESPERATELY for osu even tho I knew in my heart 100% that Bo-eckman was not to be trusted and that we'd certainly lose. I could've EASILY, EASILY claimed the "growing up geography" card like a lot of my friends who grew up in Louisiana and went to other B1G schools did, but NO. I WILLINGLY and knowingly decided to root for a team I KNEW would lose, that I knew had backed into the game and was not as good as LSU. I DIDNT CARE, because the Buckeyes are my team now and EVEN IF THAT MEANT sacrificing what I knew was to be a sure-fire Nat'l championship for my home state, I didn't CARE. 

SO ALL YOU UC "FANS" coming out the woodwork today can go [ something nasty ] yourselves. IF you root for UC today then you're forever a "Bearcat" fan with your lame ass "cat-titude" and bUCkeye state shirts and crap ass hole in the ground "stadium". You go against BUCKEYE NATION today and you're forever a member of Little Brother. DONT DO IT. 



Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I don't know about anyone else, but yeah, this^

onetwentyeight's picture

Sorry, been keeping it in all week. I thought about not going there but went ahead anyways. 


/move along

//shows self door 

Bucksfan's picture

Don't worry.  You'll always have Fido to hold your hand and sing kumbai-ya at the Buckeye Inner Circle (a place reserved for those select few in Buckeye fanhood who cr*p scarlet and gray of such an intensity that it will end our nation's energy crisis).

LadyBuck's picture

And Urban will with directing the band, with Woody singing right there. I can see this image way too well, Bucksfan.

Bucksfan's picture

I'm willing to bet what Urban paid for that new house that he's pulling for the Bearcats tonight, even if he wouldn't admit it in public.

LadyBuck's picture

Okay, well then have Tress lead the band. Or, better yet, Dr. Woods. He knows what's he's doing when it comes to music.

Bucksfan's picture

The flugelhorns make their contribution sound like this...

Run_Fido_Run's picture

A rant can be therapeutic. Better to get it out. In North Carolina, there are a lot fans who root for their alma mater in fball (or some other team selected based on their current winning percentage and/or how successful they were when the "fan" was a kid), but they claim to be "die hard fans" of UNC or Duke in bball. It's f'n lame in my book.   

Run_Fido_Run's picture

My one complaint with your rant is that Bearcats don't chirp. I think they growlmeow, growlmeow. These kitties hibernate, apparently.

DEEZnutz25's picture

this might be a dumb question..but whats the significance of the guy in the wheelchair in that pic?

Bucksfan's picture

That's Kenyon Martin after he broke is leg.

3technique's picture

Big win for the bucks!!! I was very impressed.. That is the best they've  looked all year. UC had not anwers... Win the national championship... I will root for you if it is allowed...