Three Things: Cats Win. Cats Lose. Reds Are Where They Should Be.

posted by Mo Egger, ESPN1530 - 

Every day there are three things. Here are those three things.

1) Cats win. Four things from last night's UC win over UCF stood out to me.

The accommodations for the road team were, um, spartan

The TV analysis was, uh, pretty obvious.

I'm going to miss Gary Clark next season the way I miss my 20s now. 

And last night was a good night for the Bearcats.

Yes, they scored just 49 points (and covered, which is a gambling miracle that doesn't come my way often), and sure, they shot poorly.

But far be it from me to look down my nose at this conference and balk at a double-digit road win in the league against a team that not only beat Cincinnati last year, but is often one of the most thoroughly miserable teams in the league to play against.

In fact, because UCF took care of UC in Orlando this season, the Bearcats failed to win the league's regular season title, which matters to me more than others, and we'll never know what that L did for Cincinnati's NCAA Tournament seed.

So there. 

No, it wasn't pretty. But I've come to expect UC road wins to lack aesthetic appeal, and last night, I saw the Bearcats play with a pace and a flow that's often absent when they're not playing at home.

They just missed shots.

The obvious analysis continues, huh?

My point is that the gripe about UC on the road is that they often don't play with the ease we see them play with at home. I actually saw a team last night that found the right speed at which to play while creating good looks on offense. They took shots that I'll live or die with them living and dying by. Sometimes they go in. Other times they don't.

Sometimes when they don't, you lose. 

Last night, they didn't. The Cats still won. Comfortably.

That's a very, very big credit to them.

(Photo: Getty Images)

2) Cats lose. Keep in mind that the following sentences are coming from someone who just told you that a 49-38 win should be celebrated...

But UK's loss to South Carolina was the worst college basketball game I've seen this season. It was a two-hour whistle-fest that struggled to keep my attention. It was a game the Wildcats seemingly had in hand before a handful of silly fouls and an inability/unwillingness to keep the foot on the pedal caught up to them, aiding the Gamecock comeback.

There were times when Kentucky seemed to click. Then there were other times when it seemed like many of their players had just become familiar with the rules of basketball before tipoff. Neither team exhibited a high basketball IQ, but the Gamecocks were less dumb last night than the Wildcats.

3) The Reds are where we thought they'd be and kind where they should be. There's a really good, in-depth, and lengthy piece by Yahoo's Jeff Passan about baseball's quiet offseason, the sport's current economic problems, and what might happen in the future

This has been the quietest, and dare I say, more boring, baseball season that I can remember.

Same for the offseason here.

The latter, however, is independent from the former.

This Reds offseason was always going to be quiet. Not because "Bob Castellini doesn't want to win arrggghhh" but because the time for trading off known commodities has past, but the time to add short-term assets hasn't yet arrived.

They're still in "let's see what we've got" mode, which is where they were at the deadline last year when I wrote this...

This season, unlike the previous two, was never going to be about trades or the trade deadline.  If the Reds are going to get substantially better in the next year and a half - enough to put them in position to contend in 2019 - then those upgrades are going to come from within.  Do players who've been at the Major League level improve enough to help them win? Do players just now getting their shot here develop rapidly? Does the farm system yield big league-ready talent? Do draft picks pay off? 

If the answer to these questions ultimately play in the Reds' favor, then they'll smooth out the roster's rough edges by obtaining players from elsewhere. If a year from now, the rebuild hasn't significantly progressed, the Reds could be big sellers in late July. Until one of those things happen, what happens inside the organization is much, much more important than any deal for a player from the outside.

Last year's trade deadline didn't matter to the Reds, and with a few exceptions (Hughes, Jared), this offseason isn't that important either.  2018 is a critical season - especially the first half of it - because at some point between now and the end of the forthcoming 162 games, we'll all have a better idea of how close this team is to contending, what can be done to inch them closer to contention, or what has to be done to start another, perhaps different type of, rebuild.

If the Reds are going to be better this season, it's because the Reds got better. Players improved. Some guys did more. More questions were answered in the affirmative. Enough happened with what they have that a move to add to their riches makes sense.

They're not there yet. Which makes things a little boring. 

My sense is that regardless of what happens this season, next winter will be anything but. 

Radio Show: New Louisville Bats skipper Pat Kelly is with me at 3:30. Rock Broering of Musketeer Report has his weekly segment at 3:45. You and I before and after. We start at 3:05 on ESPN1530.

Recommended Link Of The Day: The Passion of Patrick Ewing

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Mo Egger

Mo Egger

Mo Egger delivers his unique take on sports on Cincinnati's ESPN 1530! Read more

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