Key Losses: F Roy Bright (4.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg), F Jason Maxiell (15.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.8 bpg), G Chadd Moore (3.3 ppg, 2.5 apg), G Nick Williams (8.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated Iowa 76–64, lost to Kentucky 69–60 in the second round
Stone Mountain, GA/Stephenson
Miami, FL/South Miami Senior
San Antonio, TX/Los Angeles Southwest CC
Miami, FL//Kilgore (TX) College
Johnson is the strong, physical low-post presence the Bearcats have lacked in recent years. McGowan and Coleman are cut in the mold of the athletic, strong forwards that Cincy had success with in the past, and Herrera could be a force in a few years. Downey is a speedy point guard with vast offensive potential. Tilford was Kentucky's Mr. Basketball and will give Cincinnati three true point guards to choose from.
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Citing the equivalent to irreconcilable differences, University of Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher ended the school's 16-year marriage with Bob Huggins in late August when she basically forced the controversial head coach to resign.
The Huggins regime wasn't always smooth, but it was highly successful. The Bearcats averaged 24.9 wins per season and reached the NCAA tournament every year from 1992 through 2005.
The program will now be guided on an interim basis by Huggins' top aide, Andy Kennedy, who will steer the Bearcats on their first tour through the Big East this winter.
The Bearcats, who have developed a reputation over the years for being more physical up front than their opponents, found themselves frequently outsized last season. To remedy that, UC signed 6-foot-10 freshman Abdul Herrera, 6-7 junior college transfer Cedric McGowan and 6-6 freshman DeAndre Coleman.
The Bearcats had another big man in the fold, but Ivan Johnson, a junior college transfer, asked for his release after Huggins' resignation. He would have competed for a starting spot.
Herrera is believed to be a year or two away from making a contribution, but McGowan will be counted on to step in right away.
McGowan averaged 16.6 points and 7.1 rebounds at Kilgore (Texas) College. He's an athletic, above-the-rim player cut in the mold of past Cincinnati frontcourt players.
They'll join 6-6 forward Eric Hicks, who blossomed last year into a consistent rebounder and low-post scorer. Hicks averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds, the highest rebounding average for a Cincinnati player since Kenyon Martin averaged 9.7 in 2000.
The Bearcats also return Armein Kirkland, a senior who has yet to live up to his potential. Still, the 6-8 Kirkland has the ball-handling skills to cause matchup problems.
Roy Bright, who would have been a sophomore this season, was dismissed from the team after being charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
The loss of shooting guard Vincent Banks, a partial academic qualifier last year who left the program at the end of the season, deprives Cincinnati of a player who had the potential to be a big-time scorer.
Point guard Jihad Muhammad was inconsistent last year after transferring from junior college. He needs to cut down on his turnovers, make better decisions and improve his shooting.
Freshman Devan Downey has the quickness to frustrate defenders and could develop into the Bearcats' best point guard since Steve Logan.
James White, a 6-7 senior, is a splendid athlete who can jump out of the gym. He plays solid defense, is a good passer and may be Cincinnati's most complete player. He needs to improve his perimeter shooting and attack the basket more often.
With increased size and depth, the Bearcats should be better than last year's 25-8 team, but it's doubtful they'll win as many games. In Conference USA, Cincinnati had been able to pad its win total over the years against the likes of South Florida, Tulane, Southern Miss and East Carolina. Even though USF will join the Bearcats in the Big East this season, there will be fewer easy wins for Cincinnati.
And then there is the coaching factor. How will this team react without Huggins patrolling the sidelines? As Huggins' top assistant and recruiting coordinator, Kennedy was highly involved in every facet of the program, but he has never run a team himself. Moving one seat over is a major adjustment, as he will soon find out.
Still, this team has the talent to finish in the upper-division of the new, 16-team Big East and looks like a safe bet to reach the NCAA tournament for a 15th-straight season.