Last season the Bearcats were out manned in every single Big East game and finished the season 2-14 in conference games. Mick Cronin had no bench and no players taller than 6-foot-7. Cronin's backup center was a 6-3 tight end.
"What I told the guys repeatedly last year was that teams knew we were totally out manned and we didn't get a lot of respect in many ways," Cronin said.
Cronin said that his players really felt disrespected by some of the things that went on last year and the way other Big East teams treated them.
He said some teams showed their lack of respect by not preparing well and other teams showed it by the way they played the game and they way they talked to the Bearcat players during the games.
"Because we didn't have a bench and we didn't have any size, I just kept telling them: when the help arrives you just have to be ready to play hard and smart and we will get our payback," said Cronin.
The Bearcats have already gotten started on their quest for payback. After losing to Louisville by 16 at home last year, the 'Cats traveled to Freedom Hall on New Year's day and stuck it to a tough Louisville team on their home court.
After overcoming a 17-point deficit at Syracuse last year only to watch the game slip away in the final minute, the Bearcats got a little payback Wednesday with their 74-66 win over the Orange.
"I think its definitely been motivation," said Cronin. "I tried to make sure I reminded our guys all year and all off-season, don't forget some of the things that went on and when we get our chance we have to make sure that we step to the plate."
The Bearcats certainly stepped up to the plate against Louisville and Syracuse. With the victories, the Bearcats have already matched last years total for conference wins. They have also garnered a little bit of respect.
"You have to earn respect in this conference," said Deonta Vaughn. "(The win over Syracuse) means a lot because we didn't get too much respect because of last year the way we played."
Although the wins over Syracuse and Louisville don't mean the Bearcats are suddenly commanding the respect of a team like Georgetown, it does mean that a new day is dawning for UC basketball.
"What it does say is that it's not last year," said Cronin. "It's not last year when the Bearcats are rolling in playing football players and five guys that were thrown together at the end of the season. Those days are over. I told you at Christmas our record is bad but we are 25,000 times better than we were a year ago."