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Cincinnati Basketball Team Adjusts to Temporary Home

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Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

 

CINCINNATI - A crane towers over Cincinnati's on-campus arena, and a banner on the side explains the reason why: "Home Won't Be Built In A Day."

It's going to take a year for the Bearcats' arena to undergo a major renovation, forcing them to play home games in another state this season. They'll make the half-hour drive across the Ohio River to BB&T Arena on Northern Kentucky University's campus, the biggest adjustment for one of the best teams in coach Mick Cronin's 12 seasons.

"We're used to being in different environments," forward Kyle Washington said. "It will be a change at first, but we'll transition to it."

No matter where they're playing, the Bearcats have enough experience, depth and versatility to pull off another successful season. They return three starters from a team that went 30-6, the second-most wins in program history.

They went 16-2 while finishing second to SMU in the American Athletic Conference.

A second-round loss to UCLA ended their seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They haven't made it past the second round since 2011-12, when they lost to Ohio State in the Sweet 16. They'll reopen their renovated Fifth Third Arena in 2018 against the Buckeyes.

The biggest challenge this season is transferring their home-court dominance to a totally different court. The Bearcats went 18-0 at Fifth Third last season, their fourth undefeated season at the arena.

Cronin had his players wear jerseys instead of practice gear for their annual intrasquad scrimmage at BB&T last weekend, a way of reminding them this is their home court for now.

Some things to watch with the Bearcats:

Starting trio: Washington

(12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds), forward Gary Clark (10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds) and guard Jacob Evans III (13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds) form the core of a versatile team that relies on defense and rebounding. Clark is coming off his breakout season. Evans provides a long-range shooting threat. Sophomore shooting guard Jarron Cumberland is expected to play a bigger role after averaging 8.3 points.

Missingpieces:The Bear-cats' biggest challenge is replacing point guard Troy Caupain, who averaged 10.5 points and 4.4 assists per game, along with guard Kevin Johnson, who averaged 7.9 points and was a top perimeter defender. Junior point guard Justin Jenifer averaged 2.8 points and 1.9 assists in 12 minutes per game last season and is in line for a bigger role.

New point guard: Cane Broome sat out last season after transferring from Sacred Heart, where he averaged 23.1 points. The quick, 6-foot guard is known for his ability to go past defenders and pass the ball. He's an erratic shooter. The Bearcats are hoping to use his speed on defense at the outset.

New digs: Fifth Third Arena held 13,176 fans and provided a formidable home-court advantage, with seats close to the court. BB&T Arena is configured differently and seats 9,400. Cincinnati will offer shuttle service for students to make the trek across the Ohio River for home games.

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November 2, 2017
 
 
 

 

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