The 2019 Crosstown Shootout is officially upon us and in preparation for the festivities and the game on Saturday, the Newswire chatted with the University of Cincinnati’s school newspaper, the News Record, to shed light on the matchup.
News Record sports editor Spencer Schultz shared some of his thoughts during a Q&A session heading into the weekend.
Q: You’re originally from the Cincinnati area, so I imagine you’re well aware of the rivalry between Xavier and Cincinnati. What can you tell me about your experiences growing up and what this game mean to you?
A: The game means a lot to me and the city, especially because I’m a student at UC. It definitely means a lot more than it did when I was in grade school and high school. I wasn’t the biggest UC fan growing up or Xavier … It was mainly the fun of the game and the atmosphere. I didn’t really care about who won back then … It has good history and the game is really good year in and year out.
Q: What’s the vibe like on campus on the week of the Crosstown Shootout?
A: No one is really talking about it … Everyone knows the game in this year, but I think in past years, it’s been more important … Things haven’t gotten as smoothly as people might’ve expected this year … It’s more of the students and the fans being concerned with Cincinnati more than the game and Xavier … I think more people are concerned with the way UC plays, the atmosphere and the chemistry of the team.
Q: There has been a lot of discussion about John Brannen’s new offensive system. Have you noticed a difference in the team’s style of play?
A: Defensively, it’s definitely the same. Brannen wants to turn defense into offense, and he’s really emphasized that every time he’s talked to the media pretty much … The team’s definitely defense first … Jarron has been in and out, so it’s been hard to put the offense completely together without arguably your best player on the floor for the entire game or the minutes that he plays at least. Against Vermont (on Tuesday) you saw the offense really coming together and what Brannen wants. Passing hasn’t been an issue really – a lot of players make the extra pass to get the open shot. The players are starting to thrive in the roles that Brannen wants them to be in. The shot selection has been a lot better lately, and just the overall efficiency of the offense and what they are trying to do, they’ve been more successful at that.
Q: How would the game be different if it was played later in the season?
A: If it’s played later in the season, it would definitely be a much cleaner game. Teams in general, it’s just their early chemistry. Especially with UC, you got seven new guys, a brand new head coach and Jarron is trying to work with McNeil and Chris Vogt, who are two of the new starters this year. The more time you spend with a new team, the off-court chemistry translates to on-the-court. Things are a lot more cleaner, more efficient and you really have those game plans set in stone … When you get into conference play, you see teams twice. When you play that team a second time, you’re more prepared, you know what you did wrong. You know what you did well in that first matchup and it’s definitely an advantage. Crosstown Shootout wise – it’s better for the atmosphere early in the season.
Q: Xavier is 7-1 in the Crosstown Shootout when the game is played at Cintas Center. Do you expect that to play a role on Saturday?
A: To me, it’s harder to play at Cintas than to play at Fifth Third. UC hasn’t won in Cintas since 2001, believe. I don’t think UC is prepared enough to go into Xavier and Cintas into that environment and come out with a win – which I might be wrong … UC hasn’t been able to close out games … Even if UC were to get up in that environment, I don’t think they’d be able to hold the lead in that atmosphere. There’s not going to be that many UC fans there and Xavier is a really good basketball team.
Q: Game prediction?
A: Xavier’s got the same guys as last year that are back like Naji Marshall, Paul Scruggs – he’s stepped up – and Quentin Goodin is still there. Xavier is at home, they are playing good basketball right now and UC still isn’t all the way there offensive wise. Jarron got hurt – he had a hip injury against Vermont, so no one really knows what his status is.
Xavier’s going to win and I’m going to say it’s going to be 72-65.