Right around 6 o'clock on Sunday night, St. Joe's learned that their opening round opponent in the NCAA Tournament would be Mick Cronin's Cincinnati Bearcats, out of the American. Shortly thereafter, the Saint Joseph's coaching staff began familiarizing themselves with the Bearcats. St. Joe's assistant coach Dave Duda spoke with Hawk Hill Hardwood about what makes the Bearcats tick.
"They're probably the most physically imposing team we have faced this year," Coach Duda began. "We haven't seen this type of size since Florida. Duda isn't kidding. The Bearcats starting five of Farad Cobb, Troy Caspian, Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, and Octavius Ellis goes 6'4, 6'1, 6'6, 6'8, and 6'10. They also bring 6'7 Shaq Thomas and 6'9, 270-pound Coreontae DeBerry off the bench. The size of the Bearcats could pose a problem for the Hawks, as St. Joe's starting frontline goes 6'8, but thin, freshman Pierfrancesco Oliva and 6'7 Isaiah Miles.
That size that the Bearcats bring poses a number of potential problems that Coach Duda spoke on, "We just can't have them playing ping pong on the glass." The Bearcats are a very good rebounding team with their imposing frontline, averaging 39 rebounds per game. That being said, Saint Joseph's also averaged 39 boards per game. "I'm concerned with the deep post ups by their bigs," Duda continued. "If they get too deep, we can't get help to the post." St. Joe's struggled at times this year with teams (Florida, Villanova)) that had offensively-minded bigs with size. When the Hawks double the post, the one player they can ill afford to leave on the perimeter is Farad Cobb. The 6'1 senior guard shot 39% from three this year on high volume. Cobb jacked up just under six threes per game,
Cincinnati was one of the better defensive teams in the nation this year. The key to their defensive success, in addition to their size? According to Dave Duda, it's their match-up zone. "They play a great match-up zone with both size and length. In order to have success against it, we need to have efficient ball and player movement and will need to play with great pace."
Friday's game will be a stark contrast in pace. Cincinnati will want this game to be in the 60s, while the Hawks are most comfortable playing it in the upper 70s or 80. During the A10 Tournament last week in Brooklyn, St. Joe's broke the 80-point barrier in three straight games. The Bearcats, on the other hand, only broke 80 twice in regulation over their last 15 games.
When Duda was asked which player really makes the Bearcats go, his response was an obvious one. It was 6'4 lead guard Troy Caupain The junior from Virginia averaged a team-high 13.2 points this year, while also adding 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. "Caupain is a high-level big guard. All-league caliber guard in any league, and he's a guy willing to take the big shot for them," Coach Duda explained. At 6'4, 205-pounds, Caupain has terrific size in the backcourt. If you're a St. Joe's fan, there is comfort to be found in the fact that you have several perimeter defenders with size in 6'4 Aaron Brown, 6'5 James Demery, and 6'6 DeAndre Bembry. Look for all three players to take turns on Caupain.
On Wednesday, Hawk Hill Hardwood went inside the numbers of the Bearcats. Today, we got insight on Cincinnati from St. Joe's assistant Dave Duda. Friday is game day, and we will roll out a detailed player-by-player comparison as well as a prediction. Hawk Hill Hardwood has you covered.
Duda Previews the Bearcats
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