As we wind down the regular season and get closer to tournament time many teams have already figured out who is their go to player is in crunch time. Most games come down to one or two plays that determine the outcome. While most teams have figured this dilemma out by now Mick Cronin’s team is still searching for answers. Who is the Bearcats go to scorer?
As we look at players who can close games and deliver the goods for you when it matters most a few factors must be taken into consideration. Number one is a player must embrace these kinds of moments; he must be a guy who isn’t scared to miss a big shot and doesn’t shy away from the pressure. Number Two his game must be creative enough to score the basketball down the stretch, he has to be able to score off the dribble and can create his own shot or an open opportunity for others. If a player has these two big attributes they can develop into a closer in crunch time. Now let’s take a look at three players on the Bearcats roster who have the ability to close games as we get closer to March.
Let’s start off on the frontline. Gary Clark is legit option number one. He has improved on his low post scoring and has even earned the nickname “A Walking Dub Dub” (double double) from point guard Troy Caupain. To be a viable candidate at being a dependable go to scorer late in games shooting a good field goal percentage from the floor is a plus. Clark is shooting 58% from the field and has improved his three point shot shooting 54% from the perimeter. Clark is legit option for the Bearcats.
Now let’s shift to the backcourt. Troy Caupain checks in as option number two. The floor general is averaging 11.6 points while dishing out 4.9 assists. He can create his own shot off the dribble and open up opportunities for others. His game has elevated over the last year and he is the leader of this team. Caupain checks in at two.
My third option may surprise you. Last Saturday with about 40 seconds remaining and the game still up for grabs Jacob Evans went to the top of the key took the basketball, waved off every one and created his own edition of the “cook book special” (A term established when a player goes one on one and scores over his defender) by hitting a jumper that put the Bearcats ahead for good 62-54 over the Huskies. The freshman proved the moment is not too big for him and he doesn’t mind the ball being in his hands in the clutch. Evans also is the Bearcats best free throw shooter at 87% and that helps tremendously being able to hit clutch free throws at the end of games.
These three guys have a chance to carry the Bearcats far come March. I believe Cronin will have to make a decision on who to trust down the stretch in close games. At this time of year championships are won by players who embrace big moments in big games. In my opinion Cronin has three solid options he can trust to take on the role of the closer to propel the Bearcats to a deep tournament run.