Bearcats Defense Is DVD-Worthy

The stats show that Cincinnati is one of the best defensive teams in college basketball this year.  Through 25 games, the Bearcats rank 5th in the country in points allowed (57.6) and are holding foes to 39% shooting.

“That’s who we are,” said Justin Jackson.  “That’s Bearcat basketball.”

But it’s not just this season.  Cincinnati has earned the reputation for being one of the best defensive programs in the nation and soon there will be a DVD to help explain why.

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Championship Productions is known for its instructional sports videos, as coaching legends like Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, and Pat Summit share their expertise.  Beginning this spring, coaches and fans will have the opportunity to study Mick Cronin’s defensive principals.

“They came in and filmed practice because they had so many requests from high school coaches around the country for our practice drills and defensive drills,” Cronin told me.  “They do it for money so they had to have a lot of requests from people who are trying to figure out what we do defensively around the country from guys that are coaching basketball.”

“That’s an honor,” said Jackson.  “We take pride in what we do and that shows that we’ve been successful.”

“I thought it would be something neat to do – I’ve never been a part of something like that,” said Cronin.  “If it can help other coaches that would be great, and since it’s going to be distributed nationally it really helps the status of the program.  I’ll do anything I can do to elevate the status of our program, help recruiting, help create interest in the Bearcats, and help create positive energy toward what we’re trying to accomplish here which is hopefully trying to build a national power year in and year out.”

The Bearcats have been strong on defense throughout Coach Cronin’s tenure and this is likely to be the third time in the last four years that Cincinnati has allowed fewer than 60 points a game.  It obviously helps to have one of the nation’s leading shot-blockers in Jackson, but that alone does not explain why this year’s team is so difficult to score on.

“This team is able to switch everything for the most part,” explained assistant coach Darren Savino.  “What happens is, a lot of teams run their offense and try to use screens to get advantages, and they can’t do it on us as much because we can switch.  And then it becomes ‘mano y mano’ … me vs. you and it’s not that easy.  Yeah, they’re going to score some, but not as much as if our defense was constantly helping.  We try to eliminate that by doing a lot of switching and then keep people in front of us.  We’re not perfect obviously – nobody is – but I think that’s really helped our defense.”

“Interchangeable parts are a big part of it,” said Cronin.  “Enough depth to never have to play anybody tired – because when you’re tired you’re going to have slippage.  And obviously a shot blocker.  Usually if you have a shot blocker, he’s a weakness in the pick and roll, but Justin is not.  He can move his feet on the perimeter and he can also block shots around the rim.”

Jackson leads the Bearcats in blocks and steals and will be a strong candidate for American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.  But Savino says, another UC senior is just as important to Cincinnati’s defensive prowess.    

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“Titus Rubles is one of the best defense players in the country,” Darren told me.  “The guy can guard anybody from the center to the point guard.” 

“Titus doesn’t block the shots that Justin does, but he allows us to be extremely versatile with what we do with our coverages and confuse our opponents,” said Cronin.  “His ability to guard every position is vital to what we do.  Things that don’t show up in the box score make him just as valuable as Justin – he won’t win any awards because he doesn’t have the individual stats to prove it, but his statistic is our field goal percentage defense and our points allowed per game.  A lot of that is because of Titus.”

None of that information is a secret to Cincinnati’s opponents.  But what about the upcoming video – will Coach Cronin be divulging any secrets that could help teams dissect the Bearcats’ defense?

“I have editing right of refusal at the end, and we’re very scouting report-specific.” Mick told me.  “The video will show our core principals and how we teach things.  That’s really the basis of it, but I will also make sure that everybody knows that we do adjust game-to-game and year-to-year based on the personnel.”

I look forward to seeing Cincinnati’s “D” on DVD.

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I received a question on Twitter asking for tiebreaking procedures for seeding the conference tournament in The American.  I couldn’t squeeze them into 140 characters, so I’ve posted the official league rules below.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1

 

SEEDING & TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURES

 

Note: these procedures apply to the 2013-14 season only. New procedures will be

developed for 2014-15 due to the addition of new membership.

 

Overall Conference record, at the conclusion of the regular season, is used to seed teams numbering 1 through 10. If an institution is ineligible for tournament competition, all tiebreaking procedures will be followed, then the ineligible team will be removed from the tournament field and seeds will be adjusted accordingly in an upward manner.

The following procedures are set up to establish seeding for the championship and to break ties. Follow the appropriate steps in order.

TWO-TEAM TIE

1. Regular season head-to-head results.  If the tied teams split their two games, then proceed to Step 2 below.

2. Each team’s record vs. the team or tied teams occupying the highest position in the standings. If an advantage is not determined, proceed to the next team or group of tied teams in the standings for comparison. Continue down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

3. Coin Flip

If any ties still exist after implementing all of the above tie-breaking procedures, a coin flip is required. The procedure takes place at The American Athletic Conference office immediately following the conclusion of the last regular season conference game.  Commissioner Mike Aresco or his designee will administer this procedure. This session is open to the media and to athletic department representatives of the tied teams.

MULTIPLE-TEAM TIE (3 or more teams)

1. Teams are viewed as a “mini-conference” when comparing head-to-head results.  The team with the best record vs. the other teams in the mini-conference gains the advantage. The team with the worst record vs. the other teams in the mini-conference is seeded the lowest.

a. If only two teams have the same best winning percentage in the mini-conference, the higher seed goes to the team winning the head-to-head series. 

b. If the two teams split their two games, then proceed to Step 2 under Two-Team ties.  To seed the remaining team(s) in this mini-conference, proceed to (e) below.

c. If three or more (but not all) teams have the same best winning percentage in the original mini-conference, then those tied teams create a new mini-conference and follow this same procedure beginning of Step 1 (Multiple Team Tie).

d. If all teams in the mini-conference have the same mini-conference record, proceed  to Step 2 below.

e. After the top or bottom teams in a mini-conference are determined, the remaining teams are ranked by their record in the original mini-conference.

i. If there are any remaining teams tied by their record in the mini-conference, then head-to-head results will determine the higher seed.

ii. If the teams split two games, then proceed back to the two-way tie breaking procedure.

iii. If there are at least three teams remaining tied by their record in the mini-conference, they would then form a new mini-conference and follow the procedure again at the beginning of Step 1 (Multiple-Team Tie).

2. Compare each team’s record vs. the team or group of tied teams occupying the highest position in the standings. If an advantage is not determined, proceed to the next team or group of tied teams in the standings for comparison. Continue down through the standings until one or more teams gain an advantage. If two teams have the exact same advantage (i.e., having the same and better record against a compared team relative to their mini-conference), they are separated at that point by the two-way tiebreaker procedure. The next step would take you back to Step 1 (e) (Multiple-Team Tie).

3. Coin Flip

If any ties still exist after implementing all of the above tie-breaking procedures, a coin flip is required. The procedure takes place at The American Athletic Conference office immediately following the conclusion of the last regular season conference game.  Commissioner Mike Aresco or his designee will administer this procedure. This session is open to the media and to athletic department representatives of the tied teams.

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