Cronin Upbeat about Season

The 2007-2008 Cincinnati Bearcat men's basketball squad will have its first practice Friday night at 7 o'clock, but Bearcat Insider was on hand Friday afternoon for the season opening press conference.

As Coach Cronin started Friday afternoon's press conference, his opening statement showed he hadn't lost his sense of humor even after losing arguably his best player when Mike Williams tore his Achilles tendon only days previously.  "We've been extremely lucky since I've become the head coach of Cincinnati with injuries and NCAA rulings."


Last season the Bearcats lost both its big men, Hernol Hall and Adam Hrycaniuk, to an NCAA ruling, and Cronin felt Hall was the squad's best player during preseason practices last year.


The loss of Mike Williams definitely hurts the squad's talent level, experience and depth, but it also became very clear that losing the 6' 7" forward hurt Cronin's psyche.  "It was much harder on me probably than it was on him.  I was on the road, and it was tough for me to talk to him in person.  I was a basket case.  He's a wonderful kid."  That kind of genuine concern for his players is exactly what makes the LaSalle grad such a good recruiter. 


Coach Cronin also explained how the loss of Williams will change some of the staff's strategy.  "I was hoping to play John Williamson this year at some three, but that isn't going to happen.  It would have made us a much bigger, stronger team, but we'll probably have to play him more at the four."


The addition of six freshman including 7 footer Anthony McClain and 6' 8" Darnell Wilks will give the Bearcat head coach more height and depth for his second season in the BIG EAST Conference.  "We'll be a little bit taller this year and a lot deeper, and the future is much brighter.  We've got six freshmen on board.  I'm just excited to get started."


As the Bearcat staff prepares to see its team in action Friday night, it will begin to answer questions that Coach Cronin posed during his press conference.  "We've got a lot to figure out.  Who's going to be our go-to guys?  What's the best offense for us to run?  We're still not to the point where we know what we're going to be good at."


What Coach Cronin and his staff have already proven to be good at is recruiting talent.  No staff, maybe in the history of college basketball, had such a low starting point as these men.  In only their second season on the job, Cronin and his staff have already recruited EVERY scholarship player on their roster.


Add that fact to a schedule that includes nonconference road games with Alabama-Birmingham, Xavier, North Carolina State, a tough Illinois State squad and a home game against the Memphis Tigers, a team many believe will start the season as the #1 club in the country, and it's a recipe for disaster before heading into an eighteen game BIG EAST schedule.  But Coach Cronin believes his one year veterans will lead his club.  "There's a definite change.  I can tell it in workouts.  One year of experience, you can not put a price tag on it.  It's hard to describe how valuable that is.  I'm just happy we have five guys that went through what they went through last year.  They're all better for it."


Coach Cronin knows his club was simply outmanned last season.  "I learned recruiting is the key.  I matured as a coach.  I had never been in a situation where the other teams in our conference just had better players every night.  They had more players, bigger players and more experienced players, and it was tough."


Bearcat Insider will have more from today's press conference in the coming week.

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