Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mick Cronin Backs Himself Into a Corner (Again)

University of Cincinnati head basketball coach Mick Cronin continues to unnecessarily apply pressure to himself. Unfortunately, I don't think he realizes this.

It started November 16th, when he threw his seniors under the bus. Actually, that was just the first time I wrote about his shortsightedness. The day before Friday (Thursday), he spoke of his lightning-fast point guard recruit for next season, Cashmere Wright, of Georgia. Here's how Cronin described Wright: "He's a great shooter, not just a good shooter."

That quote not only turns up the heat on Wright, but also on Cronin. If Wright is merely an average shooter, doesn't the onus then fall on Cronin?

But wait, there's more...

After UC's recent six-point win over the mighty Fairfied Stags, Cronin responded to a question about Bearcat freshman Darnell Wilks: "He's 20 pounds and a year of experience from being a great player." Again, what is Cronin thinking? Doesn't he know that opening his mouth like this might contribute to his demise? Wouldn't Cronin be better off saying something like, "If Darnell continues to work hard he will become a nice player for this program."

If he's promising great shooting from Wright and great overall play from Wilks...well, what happens if those things don't come to fruition? The answer to this--obviously--is that as long as the Bearcats win, Cronin's words won't matter. Winning cures everything. But if they don't manage more victories, and he continues to promise greatness from the young players he recruited, well, it's not difficult to figure out who the guillotine is dropping on. I'll give you a hint: it's not going to be A.D. Mike Thomas or President Nancy Zimpher.

Final word about Cronin: As a fan, Cronin's praise for the young pups excites the hell out of me. I can't wait to watch Wilks' development. Ditto for Wright's shooting ability. Plus, it's much better than hearing some nonsense about "rebuilding." The thing is, I'm positive that Cronin believes what he says, and I certainly appreciate his honesty. But in an era of coaches emulating Bill Belichick's close-to-the-vest style, it's awful ballsy anymore to put yourself on the firing line when you could just keep quiet and keep 'em guessing.

The University of Cincinnati is Mick Cronin's dream job. He's a hometown guy who was craved by seemingly every fan in the wake of the Bob Huggins fallout. This was (and probably still is) true for all of us who want to see the same stability (at least in terms of winning) that Huggins offered. BUT...that doesn't mean he's immune. Nobody is immune. I'm just hoping Mick Cronin doesn't find that out sooner than we ever could have imagined.

Either way, Cronin has dug himself a nice little hole.

-Brad Spieser (