Originally posted on Bearcats Blog  |  Last updated 11/15/11
The Cincinnati Bearcats (1-0) take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1-1) tonight at 7 pm. The game is on the alternate Fox Sports Ohio. Here is a listing of channels it airs. If you live out of town and don't have a dish, you might be in trouble. 

The Gamecocks are heavy underdogs. They hung in there against Marshall in their last game, losing by 14. They crash the offensive glass very hard, with 11 and 12 a game. That's helped because they are a poor shooting team. They are horrible from deep, 5-25 so far this season. UC should be able to do whatever they want against Jacksonville State. I want to see more crispness offensively. I think UC needs to get in the high 70s tonight. Another game below 70 is not really a good thing. The teams UC is playing now need to be blown out. The doors need to be blown off. The last game was get up and take your foot off the pedal. I think it stays on tonight. 

Cincinnati 79 Jacksonville State 52 

Now that we have the game preview out of the way, let's take a look at your 2011-12 Cincinnati Bearcats basketball team. 

We will go alphabetically through the roster.

Jeremiah Davis III - guard

Davis is a 3 star recruit and ranked as ESPN as one of the top 45 shooting guards of this class. From what we have seen in exhibition play and the season opener, Davis is going to be one of the main backups for Dion Dixon. It's a little bit murky on how much time he is going to see when the injuries shake out. He should see around 7-8 minutes a game in the non-conference slate. His playing time will probably drop some in Big East play when the rotation tightens. He can score, and is known to be a nice passer. This year will probably be learning year for Davis before he's put into action next year. 

Dion Dixon - guard

My best friend Dion Dixon is one of the senior leaders. He is the starting shooting guard. Dixon stepped his offensive game a lot last season when he earned the starting role. He hit 41% from the field, 35% from  3 and 76% at the line. All of those were improvements from his sophomore year. All of those stats should improve this season. He's going to have to pick up the outside game for sure. One of Dixon's strengths is that he's one of the only guards on the team who will get to the line when his shot isn't falling. When he was playing well last year, he was getting to the line. That's something he can't neglect, like he did in the middle of last season during his slump. I would also love to see hiim hit the glass some more. If he can be a 13-4-2 assist-1 steal guy, that would be huge for this team. I think that's the kind of year Dixon is going to have. Not just because he's my best friend, but because he will earn it. 

Octavius Ellis - forward

Ellis comes to the Bearcats as a 3 star recruit by most services. As you can see by the photo, Ellis is a wiry 6'9. One of the things for him to do this season is get bigger. There was some talk that Ellis was going to redshirt this season, but the injuries forced him into action. Ellis got a chance to show off his defensive game with a couple of rebounds and a couple of blocks in the opener. Defense is his strong suit. The offense needs a little work. That's something that's going to progress with hard work in practice this season. I don't know how much Ellis is going to play this season, but he could be plugged in as a spark when the team needs a kick in the ass. This season might be one of practicing, getting bigger and learning the college game for Ellis.

Alex Eppensteiner - guard

Alex is the Cincinnati victory cigar, following the path of John Meeker. Eppensteiner should see action in many of the early games this season. I think he will score around 8 points this season with a couple of assists and maybe a rebound or two. Alex makes the end of UC blowouts worth watching.

Kelvin Gaines - center

Gaines is a redshirt freshman. He was the high school teammate of Justin Jackson. Gaines is primarily a rebounder and shot blocker at the young stage of his career. He showed off his shot blocking skills so far in the early season. He got 3 of them in short time in the opener. Gaines is going to have to do some work on his offensive game. He wasn't a scorer in high school. He should see some time in the front court rotation. Yancy Gates will play a lot of minutes this year, knock on wood, but Gaines will be his back up. He has an imposing presence down low. In the next year or two, Gaines should fill out to be a very solid player.

Yancy Gates - forward

No one on the Bearcats has had their career more closely scrutinized than Yancy Gates. Gates put up 15-7 after he was suspended a year ago. He once again has high expectations for his play. He's the most important Bearcat, because if Yancy Gates is playing well, Cincinnati can beat anyone. If Yancy Gates is not, then the Bearcats have some issues, mainly offensively. The early season is important for Gates. He can put double doubles on everyone that UC plays easily. He could have 15-11 games like he did on Sunday, but he has to be more efficient. Gates hit 51% from the field last year, and I don't think it's completely unreasonable to see him at 55% by the time conference play starts. His free throw shooting is very poor, 58% on his career. If that could rise a little, Gates could have a potential All American season if he produces like he's capable. It's unrealistic to expect a double double or 55% a game through the Big East, but getting off to a hot start should be that boost of confidence that sees Gates finally shine through. 16-9, a block, a steal, an assist is the type of year I think is possible. 9 may seem high for the rebounds, but if he's not averaging 10 a game through the non-con, something is wrong. 

Ge'Lawn Guyn - guard

Guyn is another 3 star recruit to the current UC class. He's the primary back up to Cashmere Wright. Guyn averaged 16-9 assists as a senior in HS. He's listed at 6-1, but looks bigger. Not to mention he looks like 50 Cent. Guyn's primary role off the bench is going to be to keep the offense moving. He's got to protect the ball as well. The early season is going to be a nice time for him to get his feet wet. Cashmere Wright's minutes are going to be kept limited, so Guyn has a chance to play with the first team. He looked a bit timid in the opener. These early games should be good for his confidence, as he should make plays and get used to the college pace. He'll see 12-13 minutes a game in most of the non-con, but once Cash starts getting his minutes up, Guyn's will decrease. As long as Guyn doesn't try to do too much and executes, the drop off between he and Cash shouldn't be that big. 

Justin Jackson - forward

I know it is very early, but man oh man is it it hard not to be excited for Justin Jackson this season. He was a big boost off the bench last season with 2.5 boards and 2.5 points, but he was known as much for his fouling, 2 a game, as the others. Jackson has gotten that aggression and excitement under control so far this season. His scoring is going to come and go since he's not the most polished offensive player, see the 20 some odd points against NKU and the 4 against Alabama State, but his rebounding and defense are not going anywhere. Jackson brings such a different look to the front court than Ibrahima Thomas did last season that it's kind of mind boggling. The announcers were saying that Jackson reminded them of Eric Hicks. That's lofty praise for sure, but it might not be the craziest comparison. Hicks busted his ass to elevate his offensive game by his senior season, and we are seeing strides in Jackson's. I think that Jackson is going to stay in the starting lineup all season long. He's too valuable to not have on the floor. His offense has to keep progressing and he has to stay out of foul trouble. His 30% free throw shooting was a joke. He needs to bump that up a whole lot since he's going to be getting more attempts. Something like 6/7-7 boards-1 block-1.5 steals is what I project Jackson for this year. The future is bright. 

Sean Kilpatrick - guard

Kilpatrick had a very good freshman season that saw him have one of the most polished offensive games on the Bearcats roster. With Kila in the starting lineup, he's expected to break out in a big way. Don't believe me? Google search any breakout player list and his name is on them. SK averaged 9 points-3 boards-1.5 assists last season. He hit 44% from the floor, 37% from 3 and 72% at the line. The last 2 numbers should boost a couple of percentage points. I would like to see Kilpatrick get to the line more this year. He didn't go once on Sunday night. His biggest flaw was defense. He has looked to be very dedicated into turning himself into a better defender. He probably won't be a lock down guy, but making other guys work for their shots is a big part of defense. The thing I was most impressed about with Kilpatrick in the opener was his rebounding. He wanted the ball and he went and got it, especially on the offensive end. He's going to blossom into a star this season, I really believe that. 13.5 points, 5 boards, 3 assists is not unobtainable. I think Kilpatrick could reach that and maybe more. He's a good talent. 

Cheikh Mbodj - center

Unfortunately that picture is the only look of the 6-10 big man we have seen this season. He's battling an ankle injury that has sidelined him all season. He's a 3 star JUCO transfer. He put out a 14-7-2 block season. He was projected to be the starting center on the team, but with the way that Justin Jackson has started, I think Mbodj is going to come off of the bench. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Having a 6-10 guy to run out there to spell Gates and Jackson is, well, huge. Havnig him come off the bench would make sense as well to ween him in on the college game. He's going to play solid minutes this season no matter what. I would love it if he could bring what Ibrahima Thomas did, but a little better. Something like 5 points, 5 boards, a block. That would be a solid reserve big man. 

JaQuon Parker - guard

This is a year of redemption for the currently injured Parker. He fell out of the rotation last year in small part because he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, hitting only 9-49. That was hurt by a 3-20 from deep. That was a huge drop off from him shooting 45% from the floor and 36% from deep as a freshman. Parker is expected to be a jack of all trades for the team. He can play the point, off guard, small forward and got a few minutes at the four before he hurt his groin. Parker is a very solid rebounder for someone his size. He got 3, and 1.7 last year despite his minutes. He's around the ball a lot. I really hope that Parker can bounce back this season to the potential he showed as a freshman. He's going to get a chance to be a Swiss army knife type of player, and here's to thinking that he will produce. 

Jermaine Sanders - forward

Sanders comes into UC as the most hyped recruit of the class. He's a 4 star recruit, and top 150 by Rivals.  He's lauded as a great scorer. He can shoot the 3 and is aggressive. Despite that picture, his weakness has been labeled as his defense. Sanders will see minutes when Kilpatrick is on the bench. It's been hard to get a good read on Sanders so far. He looked really timid in the opener and the final exhibition. If these early season games are good for anything, it's going to be for guys like Sanders to get comfortable to the college speed. He's got a lot of talent and potential. He just has to be ready to let it go on the floor. 

Cashmere Wright - guard

The Bearcats starting point guard is one of the most overlooked in the Big East. He was battling a slew of injuries last season to throw up a 9 point-4 assist-2 rebound-1 steal line last year. Wright had time in the offseason to take care of his injuries and is coming back healthy this year. He is the stable influence on this team. Cash worked hard last year to up his offensive game. He raised his shooting percentage to 41.5, his 3% to 35, and his free throw percentage to 74. Those were increases of 6%, 9% and 15%. I think they only keep improving, say 44%, 37% and 77%. Just boosting those percentages up that small amount puts Cash at around 12-13 points a game. I don't think he's quite going to score that much, but 10-11 would be a great number. He was a bit too turnover prone last year. That needs to decrease. He got off to a bad start to the season in that regard. His assist total should increase with more offensive options. He had some bad luck the other day with guys missing open shots. Give me a point guard who averages 10.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2 boards and I'll take him on my team any day. Since that's what I think Cash will do this season, I will take him on my team any day. 

Projected record: 12-1 non-conference, 13-5 in the Big East, 25-6 overall. Losses: Xavier, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville. There may be 1 or 2 more sprinkled in there, but 23-8, 11-7 isn't bold. 

Before we end this post, I think it would be fun to throw out a couple of awards that I'm making up right now. 

Most likely to have a 40 point game - Sean Kilpatrick

Most likely to have a 20 rebound game - Justin Jackson

Most likely to get a triple double - Cashmere Wright

Most surprising player to get 10 boards in a game - JaQuon Parker

Most likely to break out - Sean Kilpatrick

Most likely to break out non Sean Kilpatrick division - JaQuon Parker

Freshman to make the biggest impact - Ge'Lawn Guyn

Most likely to take a 3 and make me yell at the TV - Justin Jackson

Most likely to take multiple 3s and make me throw something - Yancy Gates

Team MVP - Yancy Gates

Most likely to be my best friend - Dion Dixon

Photos of Sanders, Guyn, Davis and Gaines courtesy of Go Bearcats. Alex Eppensteiner via google search. Others via Cincinnati.com 
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