Mick Cronin is a good coach.
I am not sure why he receives the flak he gets, but Mick is legit. I have been a Cincinnati Bearcats fan all my life, or at least since I could understand sports, and the turnaround that Mick wrought at UC is something you would figure precludes him from most sorts of criticism…but it seems to have galvanized his haters, and boy, they had a field day on Monday.
In case you missed it, the Bearcats played their Senior Day game against Tulsa and won. Some may say the margin was concerning, as they beat the unranked, conference foe by only eight points, with a lackluster defense to blame. “Mick Ball,” if you will, is predicated on defense and rebounding, so I understood the question that the reported posed to him after the game. Mick’s answer, though, was legendary.
“I will give you a stat. Kentucky, Indiana, and Louisville have combined to lose 32 games this season. We have lost four. Tell me how long it has taken this program to lose 32 games? If you look around, people ought to be real happy at Cincinnati with the way the basketball program at Cincinnati is being run. Next question.”
Firstly, there are some folks erroneously perceiving this as some sort of shot at Kentucky (Indiana and Louisville fans haven’t really weighed in). That’s false. Mick was using them to illustrate how good a year UC is having. Look, Mick doesn’t live with his head in the sand. He understands where UC falls in relation to the other programs in this region. All three of them have won championships since UC was even in the Final Four last. He wasn’t putting them down, he was comparing their down years to UC’s strong year. When was the last time UC was consistently ranked in the top ten? That’s what Mick is getting at.
Secondly, without actually coming out and saying it, Mick is asking what more do you want? The Bearcats are four games away from being undefeated this year. Yeah, yeah, I hear you, way in the back, asking about strength of schedule and blahdy blah blah. Ask Villanova about their wins against ranked opponents…and their losses to unranked ones. Talk to Duke about their unblemished record. And don’t even get me started on Kentucky. Maybe the UK fans are so butt hurt about Mick uttering their school in a sentence because they understand it’s been a rough season? Which, by the way, the Cats have looked real good here lately, but I digress. But the point is, the Bearcats play the schedule that is made. There are cupcakes, sure, but the majority of NCAA Division 1 teams are able to beat the majority of NCAA Division 1 teams. UC IS HAVING A GOOD SEASON, DARN IT!
The thing this boils down to is this, the Bearcats are poised to win their first AAC regular season title since their inaugural season in the conference and they look like a favorite to win the conference tournament. They even look like a good bet to make it to the second…maybe even third…weekend in the NCAA tournament. Mick has done a heck of a job putting together a team that, despite its struggles of late, plays his style of basketball really well. He doesn’t…nay can’t…recruit one-and-done type guys and still has a team to be reckoned with year-in and year-out.
Mick Cronin is a good coach.