The Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball team last season shocked many people. Coming into the season expectations weren’t as big as they will be this season with head coach Mick Cronin back on the bench full time.
The Bearcats snuck up on many teams last season winning 23 games and making it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The reason the Bearcats shocked many people was the fact Cronin was lost due to a medical condition only nine games into the season.
So many wondered how would the Bearcats cope without their coach? Well after beating Purdue in the second round of the tournament 66-65 the Bearcats battled undefeated Kentucky before losing 64-51. The score in that game doesn’t do the Bearcats effort justice because it was a much closer game than the score indicated.
So now with Coach Cronin back at the helm expectations for the Bearcats coming into this season will be much higher. Cronin, spoke with reporters for the first time this season Wednesday and talked about his excitement to be coaching again.
“My perspective is definitely more appreciative for the opportunity to coach,” said Cronin. “Definitely a special day for me to be back with this team.”
The Bearcats are excited to have their head coach back on the sidelines. Coming into the season the Bearcats return their top six scorers from last season. One of those top scorers is 6-7 senior guard Shaq Thomas who Cronin is looking to take his game to the next level this season.
Thomas started 22 of 34 games last season averaging 6.4 in points and 3.1 rebounds.
“Yeah Shaq has come to the realization he needs to be more effective 10-feet and in,” Cronin explained. “He’s stronger and committed himself to getting stronger physically.”
Thomas will be alongside junior guard Troy Caupain who led the Bearcats in assists last season with 3.6 assists. Caupain not only will run the show for the Bearcats at the point this season, but will be looked at to take on more of a leadership role.
“My confidence at playing guard by it being my third year and the other upper class men should be the guys the younger guys should look up to for advice,” said Caupain. “I feel like a veteran now.”
Caupain has learned from some good Bearcat guards over the past few seasons. Sean Kilpatrick and Ge’Lawn Guyn are notable guards who helped mentor Caupain during his freshman season.
For the Bearcats one thing is for certain, expectations this season arm much higher than years passed. One of the biggest things Cronin expressed was how he doesn’t want his team to get caught up in the expectations many outsiders have for the team and to focus more on what the team can control which is their performance on the court.
“I just want them to understand the aspect of controlling what we can control on the floor,” he said. “Everything else will take care of itself.”
Cronin is right. If the Bearcats can elevate their play and carry over the success they accomplished last season with no expectations they will have a successful season. Only this year it won’t be a surprise to anyone as it will be expected.