UC's Recent Struggles Due to Offense.

In the Bearcats recent three game home losing streak, the offense has been the issue.

Anytime you start a season 12-0, the excitement, and rightfully so, surrounding your team can tend to send expectations through the roof. After the Cincinnati Bearcats men's basketball team got off to that very same start, fans began picturing this team cutting down nets in Atlanta and hanging banners in Fifth Third Arena. So, what's happened these past four games? UC went from an undefeated, top ten ranked team, to a squad struggling to win at home in the always challenging Big East conference. The answer starts with Cincinnati's struggles on the offensive end.

The Bearcats, as a team, average 74.6 points per game, good for 57th in the nation. In UC's three losses this team, their offensive is averaging nearly 20 points less than that, scoring a measly 55.3 points per game, all in home games. The problem comes from shot selection. During the Bearcats wins, UC does one of two things, they either shoot well from three, or attack the paint and get to the line. That's what this offense does best. With the guard heavy lineup, led by Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright, their strength lies in their ability to get into the paint and either get fouled or make interior passes to UC's big men. In the three losses, the Bearcats have gotten to the line just 26 times, good for an average of a little over eight free throws per game. That's as a team. I repeat, UC has averaged just EIGHT free throw ATTEMPTS, not makes, ATTEMPTS, per game in their three losses. Why, you may ask, is UC so reluctant to attack the basket? That's the million dollar question. In Kilpatrick, UC has a 6-5, 220 pound guard who has a strength advantage over almost any defender he faces. When he wants to, it' nearly impossible to stop Kilpatrick from getting into the lane. The problem with Kilpatrick, as well as with Wright and the rest of UC's guards, is their tendency to fall in love with the jump shot. UC's average two-point field goal percentage in their losses is just 36%, not a high number and one that tells you everything you need to know about their offensive struggles.

Deep two-pointers are the lowest percentage shot in basketball. They are worth the same amount of points as a layup, but are shot from nearly the same distance as a three pointer. Cincinnati's struggles on offense have a lot to do with the shockingly large amount of UC's deep two pointers in their losses. Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick are fantastic one on one players, and one on one players love to break down their defenders and make plays. However, as I've described above, their two point shooting percentages are very low, meaning they continue to rely on the mid range game too much, and not on taking the ball all the way to the basket. If the Bearcats want to break out of their three game home losing streak, they need to cut their mid range to deep two pointer shots in half, and use those shots to attack the basket and get to the free throw line.

While some fans have gone into panic mode with the recent struggles, there is still a lot to like about this team. They rebound the ball fantastically, 43.5 per game, good for fourth in the nation, and play great defense. If UC can continue to play the way they've been playing on defense, and cut down the low percentage two pointers, this team can get back on track and make some noise in the Big East conference. The only question is, will they make the necessary changes? Only time will tell.

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