#27 Cincinnati Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Cincinnati Bearcats

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #27
Conference Rank: #2 American

Cincinnati Team Page#27 Cincinnati Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Cincinnati Basketball Tickets

Cincinnati flew under the radar a bit last year. The American Athletic Conference was all about SMU’s success and Connecticut’s mediocrity. But the Bearcats and Coach Mick Cronin put together a solid year, culminating with a win over Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati returns their top six scorers, so expect them to compete for an AAC title and possibly make a bigger run in the NCAA Tournament. If there is a star on this well balanced team, it is Octavius Ellis. During his first year with the Bearcats after spending time in the junior college ranks, the 6-10 forward led the team with 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He is the last line of defense when the opposition can actually get into the paint, but Ellis can score on the other side of the floor too. He made 55.7 percent of his shooting attempts.

2014-15 Record: 23-11, 13-5
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mick Cronin
Coach Record: 185-117 at Cincinnati, 254-141 overall

Who’s Out:
Part-time starter Jermaine Sanders and Deshaun Morman are the only departures. Sanders lost his shooting touch during his senior season, but he was always capable of coming in and knocking down a few three-pointers. On the year though he shot just 27.0 percent, well down from his previous seasons. Morman opted to transfer after his redshirt freshman campaign. He averaged 10.0 minutes per game and could have been a major scoring threat down the road. He will be a major scoring threat for Towson instead.

Who’s In:
This is a very good three man class for Coach Cronin, especially considering the depth he has returning. Justin Jenifer will be fun to watch over the years. He is not much of an offensive threat, but the point guard can make some entertaining passes. For now, he will be the backup point guard. Tre Scott is a tough 6-8 forward with a lot of potential, but Jacob Evans is the best freshmen of the bunch. The 6-6 wing is a superb athlete and has a nice shooting stroke too. He should at least crack the regular rotation as a freshman.

Who to Watch:
Six players are back who averaged over 20 minutes per game. Gary Clark will join Ellis in the frontcourt and the expectations on Clark are rising quickly. Clark had a great freshman campaign, averaging 7.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. That is a lot of rebounds for a freshman and was, in fact, the second most ever by a Cincinnati freshman. Shaq Thomas is the big swingman on the team. A bit more shooting would be nice to see from the 6-7 senior, but he can score attacking the basket. This is where Evans could make a push for major minutes. The backcourt is led by junior point guard Troy Caupain. He dished out 3.6 assists per game, but also knocked down 40.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. With a year of starting experience under his belt, Caupain is ready to emerge as more of a leader on the floor. Kevin Johnson is a capable three-point shooter, but it was Farad Cobb who came on strong at the end of last season and took the starting shooting guard spot away from Johnson. Cobb can shoot too, but he is a little more dynamic on the offense end.  

Final Projection:
With the newcomers and depth from players like Coreontae DeBerry and Quadri Moore, this is a deep and talented team. The defense is going to be suffocating, but the offense is not all that bad either. The team shot 44.6 percent from the floor, ranking second in the conference, and was fifth in three-point field goal percentage. That is not terrible by any means. The defense will keep Cincinnati in just about every game and this group has the experience now to make those clutch shots and avoid those costly turnovers at the end of close games.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Troy Caupain, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Farad Cobb, Senior, Guard, 8.5 points per game
Shaq Thomas, Senior, Forward, 6.4 points per game
Gary Clark, Sophomore, Forward, 7.8 points per game
Octavius Ellis, Senior, Forward, 9.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 62.1 (295th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.8 (6, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.6 (99, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.8 (15, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (302, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (227, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.0 (248, 6)
Rebound Margin: 4.5 (44, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.6 (251, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.7 (194, 6)

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#117 Jacob Evans
#151 Justin Jenifer


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