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Behind Enemy Lines: The Cincinnati Bearcats

Since the Villanova Wildcats have a date with the Cincinnati Bearcats on Sunday, we decided to catch up with Matt Opper from Down The Drive to see how the things in Ohio have been going so far this year.

Below are Matt's answers to some questions we posed to him. Make sure to head over to his blog and check out the other half of this Q&A.


How did your blog come to be named 'Down The Drive?'

Down The Drive is the name of the cheer that is ubiquitous at all UC sporting events. Of course very few people know the proper name for thing and refer to it as the UC cheer, but it is Down The Drive.

The reason I picked it as the name for it is that the phrase itself isn't common among UC fans, if you check the names of the people on UC message boards you will hardly ever see down the drive which is a shame because it has a certain ring to it. So I figured I might as well try to bring it to prominence as best I can.

See you for the rest of the Q&A after The Jump.

We all know about the schedule (or lack thereof) - what is your take on this year's Bearcats?

My take is that this is a team that finally has an identity and knows what they are trying to do. They press full court to slow opposing offenses down, they challenge everything in the half court and they play patient methodical offense, but above all else this team rebounds on both ends of the court. 

My biggest issue with Mick Cronin has been a little bit different from most UC fans. I don't care about him or his relationship to Huggins which is still a huge hang up for a bigger portion of the UC fan base than I would like to admit. For most of Cronin's tenure the program and the individual teams therein have been bereft of an identity, either on defense or offense. They did a lot of things they pressed, they play half court D but there was never an overriding philosophy.

And on offense it was even worse. Now UC has a set way that they play, and they don't really vary it at all. It has worked against teams they are better than, but no one really knows how it will work against the better teams.

I think I speak for the rest of the conference when I say that Yancy Gates has taken over Scottie Reynolds as 'the guy who's been in college for 8 seasons.' Thoughts on that?

My main thought about Yancy Gates came about three games into the season and it was something to the effect of "Oh, Yancy Gates always plays hard all the time now, that's good." #34 has been around for a while but he is only just starting to live up to his potential so the Yancy people in the conference see this year scarcely resembles the previous two editions, except on foul shots. Still a dreadful foul shooter.

Who's the one player Villanova fans want to keep an eye on during Sunday's game?

Justin Jackson a true freshman forward who is a reserve. He doesn't get a ton of shots but he does all the little things, and with verve. I have  taken to calling him the Wildebeest because he kind of runs like one and plays with a lot of energy. As a Basketball fan it is hard not to like Justin Jackson. The other guy that I would keep an eye on is Larry Davis who has been on fire for the past few games.

Other than Gates and Dion Dixon, who's the most important cog in the Cincinnati machine?

Cashmere Wright. UC absolutely needs good PG play to have a chance in the Big East. Wright has been very good to date shooting pretty well and making good decisions with the ball and UC needs that to continue into Big East play.

The hallmark of the offense to date has been good ball movement setting up good shots, but when Cash is having an off night that crisp passing can go elsewhere and take the offensive production with the.

What are your thoughts on Villanova potentially joining the BIG EAST in football?

No offense to the Wildcat Football program, but it is not what the Big East needs right now on the Football side of the ledger. I think that in time Villanova can make a successful transition to the 1-A (hate the new stupid abbreviation) level. But the Big East doesn't have that much time to wait.

If the Big East is going to take another Football program it should be Central Florida. They match the MO of all the Big East Football programs, large, state run university in an urban environment. And the Big East has tried to do Football in Philadelphia before and it was a failure. I just think that UCF would be the smarter play long term.

Give me a prediction for how this shakes out on Sunday.

I think it will be a close game. The way UC plays defense they will always been in games down the stretch. But in the end I think that the cumulative effect of playing on the road, at the pavilion, against a good balanced offensive team just three days after playing in a game like the Crosstown Shootout which is always intense and draining will be too much to overcome and Villanova will win a close one with a score in the mid to upper 60's.

Thanks again to Matt from Down The Drive - good luck the rest of the way (except for Sunday of course).