After 13 seasons leading the University of Cincinnati's men's basketball to a 296-147 record, head coach Mick Cronin packed his talents to head to Los Angeles. Since arriving at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2019, Cronin has guided the Bruins to a two-season record of 41-22, finishing fourth and second in the Pac-12 conference.
UCLA finished seventh in their conference the year before Cronin's arrival, which he quickly turned around with his acquired taste of coaching. Was it a culture shift that helped Cronin flip this around? Recruiting class? Blue blood beginners' luck?
There should be no surprise Cronin hit the warm weather of Los Angeles running; he brought 13 seasons of his UC coaching style with him. After being underrated as a No. 11 seed in 2021's COVID-19-struck NCAA March Madness Tournament, Cronin's Bruins impressively upset their way to the Final Four, where they lost in overtime by a buzzer beater.
Following their exit just short of the championship game, Cronin said, "We won," on UCLA's loss to Gonzaga University.
Cronin's father, Hep, who saw more TV time this season than Mick, summed up the all too typical move his son made, "If you're trying to win it and you're trying to extend your career, are you going to win it from Cincinnati or you going to win from UCLA? The blue bloods usually win it."
Despite lacking success in their program this season, the Bearcat basketball community was rightfully so happy to see Cronin go on a deep run this year. Was UC just a stepping stone for Cronin to reach a bigger basketball school?
Cronin did attend the University of Cincinnati, and while attending his alma mater, he declined offers to leave before accepting the Bruins.
There's no denying the warm weather, monetary gains and tempo of Los Angeles factored into the departure. However, that isn't why Cronin left Cincinnati.
Before Cincinnati, Cronin started his career at Woodward High school before being brought onto UC as a video coordinator. From there, Cronin bounced up the ranks at Louisville and Murray State before leading UC.
The theme: Mick Cronin works hard and accepts challenges. The departure wasn't all easy going and selfish. Cronin had to leave behind his biggest supporter and fan, Hep, who attended every UC game and hasn't been able to see much of UCLA's.
At 49-years old, Cronin has been to 12 different NCAA Tournaments. That's impressive, especially when he hasn't haven't been at the "blue-blood" schools of college basketball. Cronin departed for the challenge. The challenge has since been accepted and successfully taken head-on, with defense at the forefront.
Cronin has been known for being loud and aggressive, with a defense to back him up on the court. This style has taken him from a high school coach to a NCAA Final Four heading leader. Cronin was not only speaking for his new team but for himself when he said, "We won."