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UC Basketball opens practice

CINCINNATI (WKRC)-- The University of Cincinnati mens basketball team officially began preseason preparation for the 2013-14 season on Saturday with a pair of practices at the practice gymnasium in the Richard E. Lindner Center.

The 2013-14 Bearcats welcome back a pair of starters, several veteran players and a freshman class ranked among the Top 25 recruiting classes in the nation. UC is led by senior guard Sean Kilpatrick who averaged 17.0 points and 2.4 three-pointers per contest last season while earning second team all-conference honors for the second consecutive year.

UC plays its first of two exhibition games on Oct. 26 against Carleton University at Fifth Third Arena. The season tips off at home on Nov. 8 against North Carolina Central.   

UC head coach Mick Cronin and Kilpatrick met with the media on Saturday. Below is a sample of comments:

UC head coach Mick Cronin
On the new look to this year team:
There are a lot of adjustments for us this year. Its exciting as a coach whenever you are working on new things with new guys. A lot of work to do this preseason, probably more so than what weve had around here in four years. We still have talent. We have great leadership. We have a lot to do but its definitely exciting. It keeps it fresh for you as a coaching staff - introducing new ideas, new concepts to improve our offense and be more aggressive on defense. We still have the staples of SK and Justin Jackson - guys who have been here forever.

On if the newcomers help increase the possibility of running a more up-tempo offense:
The thing about tempo is you got to be able to get the ball in the basket. You cant press if you dont score. You have to be able to sustain defensive pressure and go to be able to have a legitimate 9-10 deep. No matter who you are playing. Depth is relative to your opponent. Hopefully, we are going to be able to develop the kind of depth we need to play at the pace we would like to play. That is going to require some guys stepping up this year and assuming more of a role on the court where they are playing more minutes the Jermaine Sanders, Shaq Thomas and GeLawn Guyns of the world.  And then get some contributions from the freshman which Im pretty confident we are going to get.

On the changes in David Nyarsuk and Justin Jackson from last year:
David is up 29 pounds, Justin is up 20 pounds - a lot more muscle. Its going to help Justin the most. He is playing with great strength around the rim, finishing a lot. Hes also a great passer. Were going to be able to give him the ball closer to the rim and play off him a lot more than maybe we have in the past.

The thing he is doing a good job of this year is focusing mentally. Its going to help him to not foul. He has a more mature approach to everything. Its going to help him be a better player, but hes got to quit fouling. Its going to keep him on the court more which hes done a lot in the preseason. Hes playing a lot smarter.

On the benefits of Kilpatricks experience with Team USA and his approach to his senior season:
Five years is a long time to be in college basketball. What he did this summer with Team USA was great for his career. My concern is to not burn him out. We need to keep him fresh. Theres not much more he needs to learn about college basketball. Weve got to get him help on the offensive end. Get him more open shots. Hes a guy Ive got to make sure to keep his legs fresh all year because of what he went through this summer. This is his fifth year so I need to keep this fresh and keep this fun because you never have to worry about his intensity level.

On how the freshmen looked at their first practice:
The biggest thing for them is the physicality and intensity of practice and being strong with the basketball. They are all pretty mature guys. Having summer workouts makes a big difference.

On the earlier start to preseason practice:
Its difference though. Its not Oct. 12th. My approach is Sept. 28th. Theres a lot more drill work. The coaching staff doesnt feel as rushed.  You are able to take your time and get the guys ready mentally to understand what we are trying to accomplish. You can take your time more. So you can show video to reinforce. You can walk through. You can take your time a lot more than you can if its Oct. 12 and you have an exhibition game in two weeks.

Its almost like a spring football game setting. We are taking a week and trying to teach some basic fundamentals and then some concepts and things we want to do. I like it.

No. 23 Sean Kilpatrick, G
On his excitement with the start of practice:
Especially due to the fact that we have so many new guys here. Everyone is ready to get rolling. Everyone knows that we are very talented, but we also have a lot of work to do. Today is a good day to get our feet wet.

On what he is telling the new players about practice:
Just full intensity. We know that throughout high school yet seem to lack off when you get to college because you think it is going to be easy but we all know its going to be tough. Weve all sat here and been through the same things that young guys are going through. Being a leader, I just want to really sit here and tell these young guys that its not going to be easy. Its very hard to win games here. Everyones got to get use to going full speed and being able to play hard.

On what he likes about this team:
Im just really excited to win. This team has a mindset and is buying into everything that coach is telling them to do. Everyone is just really working hard to get there and where we need to be.  Thats all that I can ask for as a senior. I know its going to be hard to win games and everything. But the only thing all you can really control is your effort. Thats something that Im really looking forward to.

Information from UC Athletics




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