Tag:Yancy Gates
Posted on: December 15, 2011 11:22 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 11:25 am

Xavier's Frease extends olive branch to Gates

By Jeff Goodman

Give Kenny Frease credit. 

Xavier's big man, who took the hardest hit in the Musketeers brawl with Cincinnati last Saturday, extended the olive branch to Yancy Gates - the guy who sent him to the floor with a vicious right-hand. 

It came via a text message. 

“I just wanted to let him know that…I mean, I saw a lot of the stuff coming out about how the police and stuff were looking into it and I just wanted him to know that anything that was coming from that wasn’t from my end. I never wanted to press charges against him,” Frease told Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer Wednesday. 

“People make mistakes in the heat of battle," he continued. "I’ve made mistakes in my life in emotional situations. I don’t think that’s a reason…especially in a basketball game. Obviously there’s no room for that in a basketball game. But to pursue somebody criminally for something that happens in something that’s that competititve – it seemed immature to me. And I didn’t want him to be punished for something for his whole life because of something that he did in a game that is that emotional.”

Frease got clocked by Gates, then was stomped on by Chiekh Mbodj while he was down on the ground. Both Gates and Mbodj received six-game suspensions for their actions. Frease received seven stitches near his left eye. 

There was speculation that prosecutors might seek criminal charges from the fight, but Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said on Wednesday that would not be the case - and praised Frease for his stance. Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski told CBSSports.com he was impressed by Frease's actions. 

"I think it was extremely mature on his part," Bobinski said. "I admire it quite honestly. It was a good move on his part." 

Frease told the newspaper that Gates thanked him for reaching out and also apologized. 

“I think that you can really feel that both sides of the situation know that that’s not what either of our universities are about or NCAA sports are about," Frease told the Enquirer. "This sort of puts a bad name on athletes." 

“I think people being able to move past it quickly is something that we need to be able to do, just to protect the names of our schools. They’re both great universities. I think that once we can move past it, everybody can sort of remember the things that made our universities great and not just what happened this weekend.”

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 11, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 3:53 pm

Cincinnati's Cronin's words were just that: Words

By Jeff Goodman

Mick Cronin's actions needed to be as forceful as his words.

They weren't.

Star big man Yancy Gates, after delivering a right-hand that knocked Xavier's fellow heavyweight to the floor, received a six-game suspension. Cincinnati also suspended Octavius Ellis and Cheikh Mbodj, who stomped on Frease while he was down on the court, for six games -- and Ge'Lawn Guyn for one game.

Gates should have received -- at minimum -- a 10-game penalty, maybe even being tossed from the team for good. Cronin talked a big game after Saturday's brawl, one that was embarrassing for all parties.

"We accept full responsibility and it will be handled," Cronin said. "There is zero excuse for that in basketball. ... The fact is the guys ... represent an institution of higher learning. Xavier has been a great school for years. We're trying to cure cancer at Cincinnati. I go to school at a place where they ... created Benadryl; I think that's more important than who wins a basketball game. And our guys need to have an appreciation that they're there on a full scholarship and they better represent the institution with class and integrity. ... I just told my guys I will meet with my AD and my president and I'm going to decide who is on the team going forward. That's what the University of Cincinnati is about. Period. I've never been this embarrassed."

Cronin talked about how these kids need to appreciate the value of education, how they need to act accordingly -- or they won't ever be allowed to put on a Bearcats uniform.

He had an opportunity to follow through with his strong message in the post-game news conference -- one that was applauded by nearly everyone. (Doyel: Cronin talked the talk)

Then he opted not to follow through on his strong statements, and hit Gates, who did his best Mike Tyson impression when he sent Frease to the canvas, with just six games.

I understand that it was a mistake, one Gates would love to take back. But it's not as though Gates has been the model citizen, either. He's been suspended by Cronin previously -- and the penalty should have been more severe for this transgression.

But winning is more important to Cronin. At least that's what his actions said.

He needs Gates, especially when Big East play rolls around.

Gates will miss games against Wright State, Radford, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Chicago State, Oklahoma and Pittsburgh.

That's a grand total of one conference game.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 3:54 pm

Xavier rout over Cincinnati marred by brawl

By Jeff Goodman

The Xavier-Cincinnati rivalry is as fierce as any in college basketball. Yes, right there with Duke-North Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville.

With just nine seconds left, a full-fledged brawl ensued.

Musketeers Player of the Year candidate Tu Holloway and Cincinnati's Ge'Lawn Guyn began jawing. Xavier freshman Dez Wells pushed Guyn, Yancy Gates threw the ball at Holloway -- and all hell broke loose. Seconds later, Xavier big man Kenny Frease was sent to the canvas, courtesy of a haymaker from fellow heavyweight Gates. While he was on the floor, Cincinnati's Cheikh Mbodj stomped on Frease.

Frease walked off the court with blood gushing from his left eye and later tweeted: "Scored whenever I wanted and never got scored on... Got punched and I'm still standing like a man." 

This was ugly - and warrants numerous suspensions. My guess is Holloway and Guyn will get a game or two, but it should be Gates and Mbodj who receive the harshest penalties for their actions. Wells will also likely get hit since his push may have triggered the melee. 

"It's unfortunate what happened," Xavier junior guard Mark Lyons said after the game, which was called with nine seconds left. "Obviously, this is a heated rivalry. But we regret what happened and didn't want it to end that way."

One question that both coaches need to answer: Why were most of the starters still in the game, which was a 23-point margin, with just nine seconds left?

Holloway, Lyons and Frease were all in the game for Xavier while Gates and Dion Dixon were still in for Cincinnati.

"I'm friendly with a few of their players," Lyons said. "It was more the new guys, they were talking a lot of trash to Tu. ... It's unfortunate, but we wanted to protect each other. When they are throwing punches, it's hard not to do anything." 

These two programs hate one another. They sit just a few miles away in Cincinnati and there's a history of altercations over the years. Frease, in fact, head-butted Gates a few years back. 

The brawl overshadowed a convincing victory for an Xavier team that is ranked eighth in the country. A year ago, Cincinnati pounded the Musketeers at Fifth Third Arena.

This season both teams were ranked in the Top 20 entering the season, but the Bearcats lost twice entering Saturday's Crosstown Shootout - to Presbyterian and Marshall. Xavier, which put together one of the most difficult non-conference slates in the country, improved to 8-0 and has knocked off Vanderbilt, Purdue, Butler and now Cincinnati.

"I feel like this was a huge win for us," Lyons said.

Maybe, but it was costly. For both sides.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 9:41 am

Preseason Tour: Thoughts from Cincinnati

By Jeff Goodman

Now that I've returned home and had an opportunity to catch my breathe from my Preseason Tour, I'll try and run through my thoughts from each practice I attended. I've already done so for Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke:

Here are my thoughts and observations from Cincinnati:

Season tips Nov. 7
1) Defense. The Bearcats may not have lost any of their top scorers, but Mick Cronin is stressing defense because he will be without quality role guys like Rashad Bishop, Ibrahima Thomas and Larry Davis - all guys that guarded. A year ago, Cincinnati led the Big East in points allowed. "You've got to be able to win ugly - even if you don't make shots," Cronin said. "Defense is all about toughness and discipline."

2) I feel bad for anyone that has to try and match-up with 6-foot-10 freshman Kelvin Gaines. He's already injured a couple teammates due to his wild elbows, so now he's been fitted with knee pads on his elbows in order to protect his teammates. I've never, ever seen a guy with knee pads on their elbows - but I guess elbow pads didn't have enough cushion.

3) While some teams prefer "young" freshman, believing they have a higher upside, Cronin and his staff have gone the other direction in more of a Pittsburgh mold. Sean Kilpatrick is a 21-year-old sophomore and freshman Ge'Lawn Guyn turns 21 in a couple weeks. These guys all look like men.

4) Yancy Gates doesn't just look the part anymore. He also sounds ready to become a star and fulfill the potential that's followed him since high school. The communication between he and the coaching staff is clearly improved - and Gates' stress level has decreased significantly. Look for the senior big man to play with a sense of urgency this year and that should translate into more dominant performances.

5) Cronin defended his lackluster non-conference schedule (for the second consecutive season), but there's truly not much of a defense. It's abysmal. Yes, there are other Big East teams preaching a similar practice, but teams like Syracuse and UConn have nothing to prove - and ones such as DePaul aren't ready. The Bearcats are a preseason Top 25 team that should have played in one of the preseason tournaments. Cronin said he'd like to play Kentucky, Ohio State or Indiana - but he said none have bit on playing against his team.

6) Junior college transfer Cheikh Mboji, who spent last season at Grayson County in Texas, could wind up starting this season. The Senegal native is big, strong and can run the floor - but he's more skilled than many of his countrymen who have come over to play college ball. "He's a big addition for us," Cronin said.

7) It'll be interesting to see how these guys handle the expectations of being tabbed a Preseason Top 25 team. Remember, these guys haven't had to deal with any of this before. This is clearly one of Cronin's concerns.

8) Sean Kilpatrick will lead the team in scoring, but this will be a fairly balanced team again. Kilpatrick's a guy who has that swagger and knows how to put the ball in the basket. He put up 10.2 points in just 20.7 minutes per game in league play a year ago. Cronin said he'll need to cut down on his turnovers.

9) Cronin said he'll continue to recruit New York. Remember, he's plucked Lance Stephenson, Kilpatrick and freshman Jermaine Sanders out of the state.

10) Freshman Shaquille Thomas won't be eligible to play this season due to an NCAA ruling, but is expected to be able to practice in the second semester. The staff is extremely high on Thomas.

10b) I had to share this story about the ex-Bearcat Stephenson that I hadn't heard before. I was told by multiple sources that after he scored his first NBA bucket a year ago, in a sparse crowd in Indiana, his father tossed confetti into the air. Classic.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 9:16 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 10:03 am

Cincinnati's Yancy Gates finally stress-free

I've fallen behind a bit in my tour that began last week on Tobacco Road and has taken me though Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Butler, Indiana and Purdue. Right now I'm sitting in a hotel room in gorgeous Goshen, Ind., which is about halfway from West Lafayette to East Lansing, Mich., - my destination later today.

Anyway, I found it fascinating to speak to Cincinnati big man Yancy Gates two days ago - who was brutally honest about the hometown stress that became too much to handle a year ago.

By Jeff Goodman

CINCINNATI - Yancy Gates couldn't take it anymore.

He cracked.

Everywhere he'd go around town, the homegrown Cincinnati product would hear it.

"Do this," they'd say.

"No, you should do this," another would chime in.

Season tips Nov. 7
Finally, shortly after the Bearcats NCAA tournament hopes appeared in serious jeopardy early last February, he couldn't deal with it any longer.

Gates exploded.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin tossed his talented big man out of practice and then kept him home for the team's road game at Pittsburgh.

"It just all got to him," Cronin said. "He was having a meltdown. He was just so stressed."

"I watched the game in my room by myself," Gates said. "It wasn't on TV, so I just watched the score."

Gates returned and played sparingly in a road win at DePaul and a home loss to St. John's.

Then he and the coaching staff had a heart-to-heart when the emotions came pouring out.

"We didn't know how bad it was," Cronin said. "It was just too much for him."

Staying home to play at Cincinnati has been a blessing, Gates said. But it's also been a curse at times.

He was that kid who chose to commit to the home school back when the Bearcats were rebuilding as the doormat of the Big East. Just about everyone questioned his decision - why he'd pick Cincinnati over more stable programs such as Georgetown and Ohio State.

Gates was slated as a one-and-done kid by some, but it didn't take him long - a couple games going up against guys his own size like DeJuan Blair and Luke Harangody - to realize he'd be in college for a while.

But the expectations were always there for the kid who dominated ever since his name burst onto the scene in the area.

"It was different," Gates said. "In high school, I'd go up against guys 70 pounds lighter and four inches shorter every game," Gates admitted. "I was criticized for the first time - and that never really happened to me before, so it was tough for me to deal with."

Now Yates appears stress-free. Maybe it's because Cincinnati is coming off a second-round appearance in the NCAA tournament and returns the core of its team from a year ago. Maybe it's because he feels as though he's done his job - to stabilize a program in flux following the departure of Bob Huggins.

"I never thought I would be here all four years," Gates admitted. "But it's been worth it."

The knock on Gates, and he knows it, is that he doesn't play hard all the time. That he should dominate more often, that with his NBA-ready body, he should be a force on the glass and in the paint. He's lighter in his midsection these days and that'll lead to increased mobility.

He's hoping to build on his numbers (11.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg) from a year ago - and much of that may come from a clear head.

"I feel so much better now," the 22-year-old Gates said. "I'm stress-free."
Posted on: December 23, 2010 11:47 am
Edited on: December 23, 2010 12:03 pm

Cinci enjoying its best start under Mick Cronin

Posted by Matt Norlander

Huh. Lookie here: Without the third-leading scorer in school history (Deonta Vaughn) and a first-round draft pick (Lance Stephenson) the Cincinnati Bearcats are winning at a higher rate than they did with those guys. Mick Cronin's (above) 12-0 team defeated Miami University Tuesday night, and Wednesday afternoon I caught up with him on the phone about the hot-but-largely-unnoticed start.

After all, have you paid much attention to the Bearcats? Do you consider this team even worth a watch at this point? It’s been years since Cinci started a season is such fashion. It began 2004 13-0 and 2005 11-0 — the final two years it was in Conference USA, by the way — but that was back when Bob Huggins was coaching the team. That’s part of the problem: Since it jettisoned C-USA and lost the longtime face of its program, Cincinnati has become second-tier in the Big East. It’s part of why you haven’t been talking or thinking about it much, if at all, through the first seven weeks of the season.

But that’s fine with Cronin, who’s in his fifth year at the helm in the Queen City. The coach doesn’t expect or want praise until his team can finally prove itself worthy in the Big East.

“Whether it’s our locker room or you read quotes from around our conference, all our players in our league understand what it’s about,” Cronin said. “It’s good to have veteran players because they understand we have to continue to improve in every area to get ready to prove it in Big East play.”

Cincinnati’s unblemished record is largely due to its non-conference schedule, which ranks 337 out of 345 in Division I, according to KenPom.com. The toughest team it’s defeated to date, by my count, is 10-3 Dayton, which has been underwhelming this season. Still, the Bearcats did lead the Flyers 42-19 at the half and were winning by 39 points with 10 minutes to play. Impressive.

Cronin crowed over the phone about this team’s underrated talent level. But is this team too talented to do what previously hot-and-unbothered Tennessee just did: lose three straight?

“I don’t think Duke is too good to lose three in a row,” Cronin said. “We’re all capable of losing three in a row if we don’t play the way we need to play.”

Aside from the soft schedule, the other reason for the promising start: “They’re a lot easier to coach.  Kids are more receptive to learning when you’re winning,” Cronin said. “We are better this year because of last year. We were 0-3 in overtime and lost six games in the last 30 seconds last year. We were too immature, didn’t play smart enough and we weren’t as unselfish as we needed to be.”

When Cronin knew for sure that Stephenson was leaving, after Stephenson initially promised to return for his sophomore season, the coach went to his team and told them they’d be just fine. No need to panic about the recruiting trail or wooing in possible transfers.

“I told the guys, ‘I don’t think we need anybody. I think we’ve got enough talent right here to win,’” Cronin said. “I told them, ‘Our problem is not talent. Our problem is between our ears.’”

The other two conversations the coach made sure he had: talk to Yancy Gates about becoming more selfish (ironic, given the coach’s viewpoint on his team’s widespread charitable nature), and giving an ultimatum to senior Rashad Bishop.

“I told Rashad he wouldn’t be back on the team for his senior year unless he accepted and embraced the role of being a senior leader,” Cronin said. This season, Bishop is in the top 30 nationally in offensive rating.

Meanwhile, Gates, a Cincinnati native, has become the star on this team, taking 28 percent of the team’s shots and blocking nearly 7 percent of opponents’. Gates was the guy responsible for quite a bit of the team’s success last year too, but with Vaughn and Stephenson leaving a void, the 6-9, 265-pound junior has handled expectation well and learned to think for himself — to an extent.

Cronin said, “Sometimes I used to think I wanted it more for him than he wanted it for himself. But that was in the past, not now. He’s matured to the point where he understands what it’s going to take. He is not the typical kid this day and age. He grew up a Cincinnati Bearcats fan and all he cares about is us winning. Last night he had eight points and eight rebounds and was the happiest guy in the locker room. But I still want him to be more selfish, in a good way.”

Cronin tries so hard to keep his team positive, which isn’t the easiest thing to do, considering many wondering how long it would be until he was fired and the school would bring in another personality with pizzazz like Huggins embodied.

“I block all of it out,” Cronin said. “I’m well aware today’s news goes out in tomorrow’s garbage. … I’m not worried about my job. I don’t think that way. Let’s just try to be as good as we can be.”

And he doesn’t put his job status or success level at merely making a few NCAA tournaments.

“I’ve never seen the point in just going to the tournament, like you’re going and that’s good enough,” Cronin said. “You’re going and not trying to win it all?”

Because it lacks quality in the non-con, we don’t know the ceiling for this team yet. But we do know no opening third of a Bearcats season under Cronin has been as positive or successful as this one.

Follow Norlander on Twitter: @CHJournal

Photo: AP

Category: NCAAB
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