No. 24 Cincinnati tries to hustle to title


No. 24 Cincinnati tries to hustle to title

CINCINNATI (AP) Point guard Cashmere Wright thought about Cincinnati's offense last season - a half-court approach that revolved around power forward Yancy Gates - and shuddered.

``Dreadful,'' Wright said. ``Horrible.''

The Bearcats are done with it.

``I'll tell you what: If we see that, it's a bad season going on,'' the senior said. ``Something ain't right.''

The 24th-ranked Bearcats don't intend to dally when they get the ball, a new approach that they think can turn their breakthrough season into an even better one. Last season, Cincinnati went 26-11, reached the title game of the Big East tournament for the first time and went on to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.

The Bearcats have three starters back and one of the league's best backcourts with Wright, Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker. Ten players return overall, giving Cincinnati one of the deepest benches in the league. Coach Mick Cronin plans to take full advantage.

``We have guys that are more ready to play off our bench than they were last year,'' Cronin said. ``So I would expect those guys to play a lot more than they did at the end of last season when our bench got too short and was really our demise in the Big East championship game and the Ohio State game in the Sweet 16.

``For us to be the best team in the Big East, we're going to have to do it with 10 guys. We're not going to do it with five guys.''

The plan: Use `em all, and make `em go fast.

Cronin emphasized speed during preseason practice, trying to get his offense to attack as soon as it gets the ball. Instead of waiting for Gates to set up in the post and run the offense through him, the Bearcats are going to spread out the floor and take the first opening.

``He started this thing called `blitz,''' Wright said. ``Once the other team scores, you've got 1 second to take the ball out and get it going. There's no more `take the ball out, walk up the floor.' You've got 1 second to get that ball out of the net, to the point guard and to whatever guard is right there and get down the floor.

``Even after they score, the point guard is supposed to be right there and we're going. So we're supposed to beat them down the floor even if they score.''

While the players like the new approach - especially those three guards - Cronin reminds them it'll work only if the Bearcats' defense remains their signature. They had to reinvent their offense last season after Gates got suspended following a brawl with crosstown rival Xavier, but never changed the man-to-man defense that turned them into one of the Big East's best teams down the stretch.

``A big part of what we do is trying to get 40 deflections every game and wear our opponents out,'' Cronin said. ``But you're not going to wear the opponent out unless you're putting pressure on - not necessarily trapping on every possession, but the cumulative effect of having someone that is athletic in your face wearing you down. That's new for this team.''

One thing won't change: Cincinnati will be led by its guards.

- Kilpatrick led the Bearcats in scoring last season at 14.3 points per game. His 92 3-pointers were the most in the Big East.

- Wright set a school record with 74 steals and averaged only 2.2 turnovers per game last season.

- Parker averaged 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds over the last eight games and led the Bearcats in rebounding during tournament play.

The biggest loss is Gates, who was Cincinnati's only consistent front-line scoring threat. Six-foot-10 center Cheikh Mbodj and 6-foot-8 forward Justin Jackson will be counted on to provide defense, rebounding and a little scoring when teams lock in on the guards.

The Bearcats have equaled or topped their win total in each of their six seasons under Cronin, who rebuilt the program from the fallout of Bob Huggins' ouster. After finishing fourth in the Big East last season - their best such finish - and getting to the tournament title game before losing to Louisville, the Bearcats' outlook is better than it's been in a long time.

``When you make it that far - the Big East championship, the Sweet 16 - it definitely raises your expectations,'' Parker said. ``You expect to get to that point or further. So the expectation's there for us.''


Follow Joe Kay on Twitter:http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall


Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

Mike Mussina was already recognized as one of the greatest pitchers in Orioles history. Now, he’s been enshrined as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

In his sixth year of eligibility, Mussina received 76.7% of the vote, barely surpassing the necessary 75% mark by just seven votes. He’ll be inducted this summer along with Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, and the late Roy Halladay.

Over the course of his 18-year career, Mussina compiled 270 wins to go against just 153 losses. He had a 3.68 ERA and struck out 2,813 hitters, the 20th most in baseball history. He also was an American League All-Star five times and won seven Gold Gloves.

Mussina’s career in many ways can be described as “close, but no cigar.” He threw multiple one-hit, no-walk shutouts with the Orioles, including against the Indians when he threw 8⅓ perfect innings before allowing a single. He also was one pitch away with the Yankees against the Red Sox before Carl Everett singled with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning.

He reached two World Series, both in New York, but lost both times. He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 1999, and would have been deserving if Pedro Martinez hadn’t had an all-time historically great season. He finished just 30 wins shy of 300 for his career, and it took him nearly two decades to reach 20 wins in a season, finally hitting the milestone in 2008.

Finally, with only four years remaining on the ballot, he made the Hall of Fame. This time, he didn’t fall short.

Mussina’s Hall of Fame case has been boosted by the rise of sabermetrics, By WAR, he was an obvious selection.

His numbers likely would have looked even better with more favorable circumstances. Mussina spent his entire career in the vaunted American League East, a division full of big bats and hitter-friendly ballparks.

He all spent the bulk of his career pitching in what has since become known as the Steroid Era, an obvious detriment to his overall pitching stats.

Former players have congratulated Mussina and praised both his raw stuff and his off-the-charts baseball IQ. Stuff, plus smarts, plus durability meant he was the total package.

Mussina was always destined to be an Oriole as Baltimore drafted him twice. In 1987, they took him in the eleventh round before the pitcher elected to go to college. In 1990, after his junior season, they took him in the first round.

The starting pitcher affectionately referred to as “Moose” spent a decade in Baltimore before playing the final eight seasons of his career in New York. Because of this, a debate has raged on for years about which cap he would wear should he ever be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Previously, the player himself was able to choose. Nowadays, the Hall makes the call. For some, however, the answer is obvious.

Mussina finally became a 20-game winner with the Yankees, and was obviously much more visible playing for the biggest franchise in the sport. That said, he made a much larger impact in Baltimore, both in statistics, and in stature.

When Orioles fans point to the team’s miserable track record trying to develop homegrown starting pitchers, they often point to Mussina as the last success story. The fact that their most recent win in pitcher development is now in the Hall of Fame is a tough look for a franchise that once started four 20-game winners in the same rotation.

If he does go in as an Oriole, Mussina will become the seventh member to wear the Baltimore cap, joining Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr. and manager Earl Weaver.

Mussina is in a unique spot in Orioles history, as many of the Hall of Famers from Baltimore are thought of as Orioles through and through. None of Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver ever wore another uniform.

“Moose” famously spurned the Orioles to join their bitter rivals when he signed with the Yankees, though it’s hard to blame him for taking the most money offered. When asked on MLB Network after the election announcement, Mussina was very appreciative towards both ballclubs and credits both organizations for getting him to this point.

It’s a slightly complicated history, but one that has largely been forgiven with time. When the announcement was made, the consensus reaction on Twitter in Birdland was that of joy for Mussina.


St. Joseph's vs. Richmond Basketball: TV Channel, Live Stream How to Watch

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St. Joseph's vs. Richmond Basketball: TV Channel, Live Stream How to Watch

After a disappointing 7-11 start to the 2018-19 men's college basketball season, the Richmond Spiders hope to snap a two-game losing streak when they travel to the City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday night to take on the St. Joseph's Hawks at Hagan Arena.

The Spiders hope to start off their Three-Saint-Strech on the right foot against St. Joseph's prior to heading back home to host St. Bonaventure (1/23) before their road trip to take on Saint Louis (1/30). Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney is aiming to lead his club to their third straight victory at Hagan Arena.

St. Joseph's vs. Richmond will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

St. Joseph's Hawks vs. Richmond Spiders How to Watch

What: St. Joseph's Hawks vs. Richmond Spiders
Where: Hagan Arena, St. Joseph's University. Philadelphia, PA.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder, Daily TV listings)
Radio: (99.5 FM; 950 AM)

St. Joseph's Hawks vs. Richmond Spiders Preview

Conference: Atlantic-10
Record: St. Joseph's (8-10, 1-5), Richmond (7-11,1-4)
Last Game: 68-57 Loss vs. Saint Louis, 1/18 (St. Joseph's), 75-62 Loss at Davidson, 1/19 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Charlie Brown Jr., 18.9 ppg (St. Joseph's), Grant Golden, 17.7ppg (Richmond)