Q & A : Mick Cronin UC Men's Basketball Coach

While football season is only a week away from getting under way, fans have many questions about the upcoming University of Cincinnati Men's Basketball team. Casey Weldon spoke with Head Coach Mick Cronin about his team in this special Q&A for members of Bearcat Insider.

First, could you talk a little bit about the most recent events / personnel changes that have happened to your team, the addition of Andre Tate to the program?

 

Could you first talk a little bit about Coach Tate?  Why did you decide to bring him into the program?

 

I think the addition of Andre is great for us as a program.  First, I have known him since his college days in Division I, and I know he has a great understanding of the game.  Also, you can look and see the success he has had as a college coach at the JUCO level, taking Cincinnati State to the National Tournament for the first time ever and doing well there.  It just really proved once again that he has a great understanding of the game and he knows how to relay that to the kids that he is coaching.  Plus, it is always good to bring a former a player back into the mix. 

 

You guys obviously are going to see a big influx of JUCO kids transferring into the program this year because of the way the team had to be shaped for this season.  Did Coach Tate's past working specifically with JUCO kids, especially John Williamson who is also coming from Cincinnati State, have an impact on your decision to hire him?

 

No, that really was not a factor in the decision to add him to the staff.  The decision really just focused around his knowledge of the game and how he works with kids.  Hiring him was simply a matter of seeing how he handles kids and how he is able to get the best out them was the real selling point, along with how well he knows the game.  Although, now that you mention it, it probably was not a bad choice to bring him in because of that fact (coach laughs). 

 

While we have talked about the addition to the team, you also recently lost a member in Dominic Tilford.  Could you possibly talk a little bit about his departure and what that means to the team?

 

You know, I cannot really get into specifics or details about why Dominic decided to leave, or just the overall situation, but I can tell you that I support his decision and wish him the best of luck.  I think this will work out well for all parties involved and I think Dominic made the best choice for him personally. I support his decision.

 

Do you think his absence will have an affect on the team, particularly your backcourt?

 

Obviously, we will not know anything for certain until the season starts but I think we pretty much knew what our rotation would be with our four guards. 

 

Could you talk about the shape you see this years team overall? You talked a little about your guards, but could you talk a little about your roster for next year?

 

This is obviously an entirely new team.  Even the guys that were here last year did not really get a chance to play with the new guys so we are basically starting from scratch.  However, overall, I am happy with the talent we have on this team.  We were really put into a crunch trying to put this team together but I think we did a good job based on the circumstances. There was a time when I first took this job when I worried about even being able to field a team with enough players to form a considerable team, let alone be competitive.  So there were some concerns about what this team would look like, early on.  But in the end I am happy with the roster we have.  We have a roster full of good people, and I think we have good talent - not great talent, but good talent. I think we have a chance to compete this season and be a solid team, but it is going to depend on how quickly we are able to mold as a team that will determine how far we can really go as a team this year. 

 

Due to the lack of experience your team has playing with one another as a group, how important are these summer months  - doing things like playing in summer league, going to open gym, working out and just living with one another - to the development of this team as a team?

 

I think that the summer is going to be very important, crucial in fact.  We really had no chemistry as a team not too long ago.  We did not even know what the roster was going to look like.  The summer really gives us our only chance to really get acclimated as a team, especially because we are on the quarter system and start as late as we do.  It gives our players the opportunity to get to know each other on and off the floor, and feel comfortable and bond as a team, which will be incredibly important when we start the season.  The summer offers us a head start on the process of growing as a team.  I think that it in a lot of ways what we do this summer will really determine how well we are going to do early in the season.  The reality is, you can be the most talented team in the world individually but you have to play as a team if you want to be successful at the highest level.                                             

 

With all the new faces on this team it seems like the default leader would most likely have to be Cedric McGowan, just because no one else has really played here.  Though, last season he really seemed be more passive and quiet in the locker room, letting other guys really step up and be the vocal leaders of the team.  Do you think he is up to the task?

 

Well, Cedric has to do the job; he has to be the leader. There is no question about that.  He is the guy that has been through the battles and knows what it is like to play in the Big East so he is going to have to be the guy to rally this team together.  Cedric and I have already had a few discussions in my office on this very subject and he knows what his role is going to be and I think he can do the job. Cedric did not get the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament last year and if he wants the chance to do so this season he is going to have to lead us there himself.

 

He does not seem to be the most vocal guy in the world.  Do you see that as being the case or do you think he has begun to grow into that role?

 

I think Cedric is going to be more of a "lead by example" kind of guy, which is not a bad thing. I would much rather have a guy go out there who inspires guys through his actions - doing his job and working hard -then have a leader who is more vocal but does not back it up.  You can have guys out there that are yelling and screaming and firing guys up but if they do not back it up on the court and in practice with hard work and dedication then they really are not doing their job. Cedric is out on the floor playing his heart out for this team every game and I think the team will really respond to that, which will make him a great leader for us.

 

How important is it to have that "leader" on the floor?

 

Again, it is just like what we were talking about before: Being able to play as a team. Having quality leadership helps you play like a team.  We need a guy that can rally the troops and really get guys to respond to the coaches and play as a team.  The coaches can do their job and tell players what they should be doing but having someone on the floor backing up the coaches really bonds a team together - in and out of the locker room.  He is one of them and they will respond to him.  With a team as inexperienced as playing as a team as we have it is crucial that we have something to keep this team unified.

 

We saw last year, at least early on in the season, when the team wasn't playing well or really playing "Cincinnati basketball" that the fans struggled to get behind the team - although, they eventually bought into the system when they saw how hard the team was playing despite all the tough circumstances they were facing.  With that being said, what do you say to the Bearcat fan that is not used to seeing a team struggle? How do you keep those fans from maybe showing some backlash?

 

I think any real fan of UC knows that we are pretty much starting from scratch here, and knows that this is going to take time.  We are probably going to be better in year two then year one simply because it is going to take time for us to grow into being a team.  We are going to work hard as a team and hopefully improve every time we are out on the floor, and I think that is all the fans will really ask of us. I really think that the fans bought into Coach Kennedy's team because they saw how hard they worked and that they were constantly fighting and never gave up.  They supported how hard that team fought to be successful even when people doubted them.  I think they will do the same for us.  As long as we go onto the floor and work hard I think the fans will respond to us and really embrace this team, and I think that we have the talent to really be successful if we work hard enough.

                                                                                                                       

Thanks for your time coach and enjoy the rest of your summer!


Bearcat Insider Top Stories

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