Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sick Of Mick Getting Bashed

I'll take the bullets. I'll take the bashing for being a homer and kissing up to a local head coach. But a lot of the bashing I'm hearing about U.C. head basketball coach Mick Cronin is making me sick. I usually consider the source of the bashing, so I can blow off some of the know-nothings that see another close loss at home and fail to consider Villanova was the ninth-ranked team in the country and coming off a beat-down at Syracuse. I, like many, see the inability of this team to finish off close games. Over half of the 13 losses have been by six points or less. Three of those losses were overtime games. (Double overtime in the case of Xavier) It's fair to question some of the late game strategies, like Gates being benched for the final 12 minutes of the overtime loss to Marquette. I think the big guy could have made a difference, and I said as much at the time. I was also disturbed by the late meltdown at St. John's and the lack of focus at South Florida that resulted in what I consider the worst loss of the Big East season.
But think about what is going on here people! Seven of 13 losses by six points or less. They are close. They were close to beating Bob Huggins and 8/10th ranked West Virginia on the Mountaineers home floor. Bad calls happen, and they happened in that game and may have cost U.C. the game. You can't lay it all on that, but Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals certainly felt the same way when their bus pulled out of Morgantown this season. They were close to beating Villanova, and may have pulled it off if a couple of upperclassmen had made their wide open three-point shots late in the game. Notice I said "wide-open." If this team could shoot, the offense would look a lot better. I still don't feel they penetrate enough or pound it inside enough. I feel they need to do it more because of the poor outside shooting that plagues this team. But I digress, we're talking "Big Picture" here.
Big Picture: Four years ago U.C. basketball was a nuclear wasteland. Plenty of radiation and very few living human beings, especially ones that could play basketball. It was a very toxic situation, with the NCAA breathing down U.C's neck for academic progress issues. Remember the scholarship that was yanked? There was a threat of losing a couple more if things didn't turn around. It's funny how that's always forgotten when complaints are heard about the lack of progress in four years. But here are the Bearcats, four years later, losing by four points to the ninth ranked team in the country. And here are some supposed backers of the program who want to see things get better by unfurling a banner that says "Mick's March Sadness". I wonder what potential recruits think about that kind of support? I know what I think: Money can buy you nice seats at the game but it can't buy you class. I agree that the late season records for Mick are poor, but this is the first season he's had enough bullets in the chamber to fire for an entire season. No coach is perfect and few, if any, make a program successful on a straight, upwardly mobile line. Should U.C. get run out of the gym at Georgetown and lose in the first round of the Big East tournament, it's going to get ugly. But I'm giving Mick another year to shake off the rest of the radiation sickness and while he does that, send the bullets my way.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a firm believer in that everything rises and falls on leadership. Perhaps the issue is one of these two: Mick Cronin would make a fine C-USA coach but can't hang in the Big East or he is letting the local fans get to him. I think the second one is probably a non-issue. Mick seems to be a good coach, but, as mentioned above, some of the moves he's made causes me to think he isn't cut out for the Big least not yet. Although, this a common thread amongst Cincinnati sports. Dusty Baker, Marvin Lewis, Mick Cronin - none seem to be energetic enough to excite a team to victory. Heck, a cardboard cut-out of Marvin Lewis would provide more emotion at a press conference than the actual Marvin Lewis does. Right now, Cincinnati sports are yearning for that spark to ignite the taste and glimps of victory...but, again, until we get that, we have to put into perspective what we actually have.

    But, when all else fails and you are at your wits-end, do what I do: just picture the Gapper kicking the crap out of the Philifanatic. Joy happens for a moment, but then it's back to crying and shivering as I realize our mascot is the Gapper.

    Careful taking all those bullets, George! I'd hate to you see on TV looking like human swiss cheese!