As I type this sentence, it is 12:27 on Thursday afternoon – roughly 15 ½ hours since the Bearcats won their 7th straight game by beating Notre Dame 71-55.
I wonder if Jeremiah Davis is still in the gym shooting.
After every Cincinnati home game, long after the fans have exited and the only people in the stands are members of the cleanup crew, Davis can be seen launching shot after shot after shot.
“I started doing that this year,” Davis told me after the Notre Dame win. “Things weren’t going the best for me at the beginning of the year and I’m here to play basketball, so I might as well be in the gym. I’ve definitely noticed a difference.”
Haven’t we all.
The freshman guard from Muncie, IN did not score a point in his first four college games and went 0-4 from 3-point range. But in his six games since, Davis is averaging 7.0 points in 13 minutes of playing time, and has drilled 8 of 13 treys (62%).
“He loves basketball and he’s not afraid to put in the work,” said head coach Mick Cronin. “He’s got great parents that have instilled a great work ethic in him. In recruiting, when you get a chance to meet a kid’s parents, you know what he is going to be about, because you know you’re going to get support from home. He understands that hard work pays off because that’s what his family is about and that’s what he is about.”
“I appreciate Coach Cronin for saying that,” said Davis. “Coach Cronin is a great guy too. Sometimes people misjudge him a little bit, but he’s a great guy. He’s a coach you definitely want to play for. That’s why I came here.”
Davis played a key role in Wednesday’s win over the Fighting Irish. Cincinnati held an 8-point lead when Sean Kilpatrick went to the bench with foul trouble with 10:23 remaining in the first half. Davis helped UC quickly increase the lead to 13 points by scoring eight points in the next four minutes.
“In the first half after SK got his second foul, Notre Dame went exclusively to the zone,” said Coach Cronin. “Dion (Dixon) was struggling and Jeremiah Davis gave us a huge lift. Their zone was effective – we only scored 31 points in the first half – but it would have been even more effective if it wasn’t for Jeremiah Davis stepping up and knocking in some shots and giving us solid defense.”
“My teammates did a great job of getting me open,” said Davis. “I just try to be a team player and everything worked out.”
Davis is not the only Bearcat freshman who has made a big contribution during the winning streak. Jermaine Sanders went 5-for-5 from 3-point range in wins over Wright State and Radford, Ge’Lawn Guyn scored a career-high 11 points against Chicago State, and Kelvin Gaines had 7 blocks in the same game.
“I like our mix right now because our freshman can really help, but there’s not a lot of pressure on them,” said Coach Cronin. “It might be Jeremiah one game, Ge’Lawn another game, Jermaine Sanders another game…those guys are going to jump up and help us. But it’s nice that they’re coming off the bench. Three or four years ago, we were trying to win with Yancy and Dion starting in their freshman year in this league. You just can’t do it.”
Davis knows his role and is embracing it.
“I’m having fun,” Jeremiah told me. “I love Bearcat Nation, I love Cincinnati, I love my family and coaches. It’s a great time right now. After that brawl, everybody got closer together. I think you can tell on the court. We love each other and we’re going to do anything we can for each other.”
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