The Bearcats had their annual Red and Black scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at Fifth Third Arena on homecoming weekend. The red team defeated the black team 55-54 after Coreontae DeBerry missed a potential game tying free throw.
Octavius Ellis led the red team with 26 points and 4 rebounds and altered a lot of shots down low.
Shaquille Thomas led the black team with 15 points on 6-15 shooting.
The Bearcats scrimmage was pretty close throughout and needed a free throw challenge to determine the winner.
It was Coach Mick Cronin first time seeing his team in any game action since he went out last season for health reasons. “Looking at our team last season I felt like we were young and needed more experience,” said Cronin.” But now we have more experience team and we play more like a veteran basketball team especially offensively.” Cronin was right.
The Bearcats have four returning seniors in Ellis, Deberry, Cobb and Thomas who are expected to be leaders this season. Thomas, who averaged 6.4 ppg and 3.1 rebounds last season, will be expected to produce more 10 ft and in this season. On Saturday, Thomas was aggressive offensively, although only shooting 6-15 from the field he was craftier in the post than last season. Cronin has spoke about wanting more production in the low post from his redshirt senior out of Paterson, New Jersey. “Shaq has definitely put in the work this off season to improve his game,” said Cronin.” In previous years he has never been as focused as he has been coming into this season it’s good to see how aggressive he was today.” Thomas has the ability to score anywhere on the floor and he can help the Bearcats offensively.
Ellis also played sensational showing improvements in his low post scoring. That was one of the biggest elements of his game he wanted to improve on from last season. Scoring 26 points, although only a scrimmage is certainly a positive sign for Bearcats fans from their rim protector heading into the season.
For Cronin with this group of players when they have scored 60 points or more they are undefeated. Saturday proved they have the personnel to score a lot of points and play fast. If this continues we can expect a deep run in the tournament from the Bearcats.