The Bearcats had a rollercoaster season, filled with a lot on the court drama, nothing off the court, but with this team most of us expected them to take a huge step forward after finishing out the 2014-15 season the way they did. UC finished the season 22-11 overall with a Round of 64 loss and 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. 22 wins isn’t bad at all, but it was only a 1 win improvement and this team didn’t get as many quality non-conference wins as the year before. At the end of the year they had six games that they loss by 2 points. If they go 3-3 in those games we are looking at this team totally different in the microscope, even 2-4 or if you want to be more optimistic 4-2 who knows?
UC started the season 7-0, but loss 2 of their next 3 (Butler and Xavier), the highlight of the non-conference season was beating VCU on the road 69-63 which after seeing them play in the NCAA Tournament you understand how big of feat that was. During conference play UC was picked to be third and finished fourth. The highlights of conference play was beating UConn (Twice) and beating SMU. The low light of conference play was losing to Temple (twice), but we found out that they were a NCAA Tournament team after the fact and went on to win the AAC regular season title.
Junior Troy Caupain took major strides this season being the vocal leader and providing stability in the backcourt. Caupain was pre-season 2nd team all AAC, but when the season was over made 1st team all AAC. He had a career high 37 points in the AAC Tournament thriller against UConn that went four overtimes. He averaged 13 points, 4.8 assists, 2.67 assist to turnover ratio, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals during his junior campaign.
Farad Cobb also had a very solid year, but injuries slowed him down during the end of the season as he had to miss two games due to a MCL Sprain. He was known as the SMU killer as on the road he had 18 points against the Mustangs, which stands out because he made a lot of plays to give UC a chance to steal the game on the road. Cobb averaged 10.7 points, 1.4 steals and shot 39.4% from three.
Kevin Johnson was the defensive glue in the backcourt and freshman Justin Jenifer had spotty playing time after the early part of the schedule, so his confidence might not have been as high at the end of the season when he got some spot duty, but I expect him to be a lot better next season.
In the front court sophomore Gary Clark is the rising star as he won AAC Defensive Player of the Year and made 2nd team all AAC. Clark improved on his face up game and was more aggressive at times on offensive. Clark averaged 10.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.5 blocks and 2.1 assists while shooting 51.9% from the floor and 52% from three. An ankle injury slowed him down the last two games as he played the whole UConn AAC Tourney game on one foot.
Octavius Ellis had a solid season, but it wasn’t the season Ellis and others expected out of the big man. He didn’t turn the corner we all expected, but he still was a threat on both sides of the floor especially the defensive end. Teaming with Clark, these two kept the paint pretty clean on a nightly basis. Ellis was pegged in the pre-season as 1st team all AAC. He averaged 9.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 54.7% from the floor.
Freshman swingman Jacob Evans could count for the guards or forward, but since he was mainly filled in for Shaq Thomas we will count him in with the forwards. Evans shows a lot of promise, nothing more evident than watching him pour 26 points and 9 rebounds on St. Joe’s in the Tournament. He can do it all on the court and should only get better and more aggressive over the summer. Evans averaged 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 33.3% from three and 80.4% from the foul line.
Shaquille Thomas seemed to be turning the corner in the middle of the season after scoring 18 and 17 points on back to back games, but during the UConn game injured his foot and ankle causing him to miss time then when he returned injured his groin and that caused him to finish the season on the bench because he couldn’t perform. Thomas averaged 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds. The one thing UC loss when he got injured was lineup versatility. With him and Evans they could both matchup well with lengthy teams.
Coreontae DeBerry provided stability to the frontcourt off the bench. He had two games that really stood out during his senior year, points to the SMU and St. Joe’s games. Both games were super important and DeBerry played his best ball when UC needed it most scoring 18 points against St. Joe’s and 10 points against SMU. DeBerry averaged 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds.
Freshman Tre Scott redshirted and should be a factor next season. Quadri Moore showed some signs late in the season that gives you hope. Walk-on Zack Tobler is a fan favorite so the more he plays the more UC is handling their business like they are supposed to.
UC made their 6th consecutive NCAA Tournament, but overall I think the season is a bit of a disappointment because of the talent this team had they seemed poised to make a big run. I will say injuries didn’t help at the end of the season, but at the end of the day a few close games came back to bite this team in the back side for the overall view of the success of this team.
NOTE: AAC Tournament and NCAA Tournament stats are included