After 13 seasons leading the University of Cincinnati men’s basketball to a 296-147 record, head coach Mick Cronin gathered his talents to head to Los Angeles. Since joining 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 arrived, which he quickly knocked down with his acquired taste for coaching. Was it a culture shift that helped Cronin turn the tide? Recruitment class? Blue blood beginners luck?
There should be no surprise Cronin hit the hot LA weather running; he brought 13 seasons of his UC coaching style with him. After being underrated as the No. 11 seed in the COVID-19-hit NCAA March Madness Tournament in 2021, the Cronin Bruins impressively upended their way to the Final Four, where they lost in extension by a buzzer drummer.
After their exit just before the championship game, Cronin said, “We won,” in UCLA’s loss to Gonzaga University.
Cronin’s father Hep, who has seen more TV time this season than Mick, summed up his son’s all-too-typical gesture: “If you’re trying to win and you’re trying to prolong your career, are you going to win from Cincinnati or will you win from UCLA Blue bloods usually win it.
Despite their program’s lack of success this season, the Bearcat basketball community was rightly so happy to see Cronin embark on a deep run this year. Was UC just a stepping stone for Cronin to reach a bigger basketball school?
Cronin attended the University of Cincinnati, and while attending his alma mater, he turned down starting offers before accepting the Bruins.
There’s no denying that the hot weather, monetary gains and the pace of Los Angeles factored into the start. However, that’s not the reason Cronin left Cincinnati.
Prior to Cincinnati, Cronin began his career at Woodward High School before being brought to UC as a video coordinator. From there, Cronin rose through the ranks at Louisville and Murray State before leading UC.
The theme: Mick Cronin works hard and accepts challenges. The departure was not easy and selfish. Cronin had to leave behind his biggest supporter and fan, Hep, who attended every UC game and couldn’t see much of UCLA.
At 49, Cronin has appeared in 12 different NCAA tournaments. That’s impressive, especially when he wasn’t in college basketball “blue blood” schools. Cronin left for the challenge. The challenge has since been met and met with success, with defense at the forefront.
Cronin is known to be loud and aggressive, with a defense to back him up on the pitch. This style took him from a high school coach to an NCAA Final Four leader. Cronin was speaking not just for his new team but for himself when he said, “We won.