Sports scene

Be patient, Bearcat basketball fans, be patient.

It’s going to take a while for new head coach Mick Cronin to turn things around on the University of Cincinnati campus. After all, Cronin doesn’t have much to work with. He had little time to throw together a team of junior college transfers and an incoming freshman from Indianapolis who wasn’t very highly touted.

The tallest regular player is Marcus Sikes, who at 6-foot-8 is severely undersized playing the center position. This doesn’t help when UC is facing Georgetown University big man Roy Hibbert, who at 7-foot-2 dominated the Bearcats with 26 points and 11 rebounds Jan. 27 in Washington D.C.. University of Louisville big man David Padgett, overwhelmed UC forward Connor Barwin, who at 6-foot-4 doubles as the backup tight end on the UC football team. The lack of size and bulk has devastated the Bearcats this year.

The NCAA is not helping the basketball program either. The NCAA clearinghouse has ruled Abdul Herrera (who left the team for personal reasons in the fall) Hernol Hall and Adam Hrycaniuk ineligible. All three would have contributed at the center position.

Cedric McGowan, who pleasantly surprised Bearcat fans as an integral role player last year, has been shut down by most opponents. McGowan’s role on the team increased dramatically when senior players graduated last spring, and it has been difficult for him to become a primary scoring option on offense.

McGowan is averaging eight points and five rebounds a game, which is comparable to what he posted last season. He is the lone returning starter from last year’s team who narrowly missed an NCAA tournament berth, and eventually lost to NIT champ South Carolina.

UC overwhelmed talent-wise

For the first time since the Tony Yates era in the late ’80s, the Bearcats are the least talented team in the conference. After Louisville overwhelmed Cincinnati at the Shoemaker Center Jan. 31, the Bearcats are dead last in the Big East. The only win in the conference is an upset win over then 21st ranked West Virginia. If the Big East Tournament started today, UC would not be invited to New York for the Big East Tournament in March. Cincinnati lacks talent, size and quality depth, which are essential in the deep and physical Big East Conference.

Give Cronin time

Mick Cronin has done everything from building Louisville back into a national power and to putting Murray State on the map. He has helped Bob Huggins build some of the strongest teams in UC’s history. However, Cronin has his work cut out for him with a small, young, inexperienced team in the biggest and deepest conference in the country. Cronin has the patience, energy and charisma to get excellent recruits like he has done at Louisville and Cincinnati once before.