Mick Has The Touch In Maui

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The next time a UC player steps to the line to attempt two key free throws, he can expect to hear how easy it is from Coach Cronin.


Mick FT.jpg 

Mick was one of three coaches who drained both of his attempts at a temporary court at the Westin Maui Resort.  The head coaches' free throw contest on Sunday morning helped raise money for local schools.


"I was the only coach wearing slacks and dress shoes," Mick said with a laugh.  "I've bragged to the guys that for years that I could make two in dress clothes - it's not that hard.  It was a lot harder than I thought with the sun shining in my Irish eyes, so I had to look down until I let the ball go."


Each of the eight coaches was paired with a local youngster and Mick and his partner - Kekoa Paschola - tied for second overall by going 3-for-4.  Arizona's Sean Miller and his young teammate made all four of their shots to win the title.   


The coaches will reunite at 7:00 pm for a Tip-Off Luau, but Sunday is obviously a key day of preparation as the tournament gets underway with Colorado facing Gonzaga on Monday at 3:00 pm (10:00 am in Hawaii).  Cincinnati and Vanderbilt meet in the second game at 5:30 pm (12:30 pm local).  In other words, sun and fun will have to wait.


"We talked about it on Saturday after practice and I said, 'If you're going to get in the ocean, now is the time,' Coach Cronin said.  "I told them if they go out in the sun to only go out for one hour.  I was sitting in the shade where everybody knows I belong, and they were coming back from the beach and pool early.  It was hotter than I anticipated so I didn't have to enforce that rule.  We're not leaving until the red-eye flight on Thursday so they'll have 24 hours to have fun after we play our final game on Wednesday."


Surf boards.jpg 

When I saw all eight coaches posing for a picture on Sunday morning, it really struck me how deep the field is at this event.  In ESPN The Magazine's College Basketball Preview issue, six of the eight teams that are here in Maui are picked to go to the NCAA tourney (UC, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, Arizona, and Wisconsin).  Colorado and Chaminade are the only exceptions.


"I have to do two things as a coach," Mick told me.  "Obviously, we're here to win the tournament.  But at the same time, we have to understand that if we don't win the tournament, we're here to get better.  We're trying to get better as a team, and the competition is going to allow us to do that and get a realistic view of who we are as a team."


Mick Hawaii.jpg 

With 16 teams in the conference, the Big East wouldn't have sent Cincinnati to the Maui Invitational if league officials didn't think the Bearcats could make a strong showing. 


"For all of the preseason tournaments, it's hard to get into a really good one because the Big East is so deep and these things are planned out so far in advance," Cronin said.  "The Big East provides us with a layout of all of these tournaments and where there are gaps and openings to get your team in.  Fortunately, we were able to slide in here when Louisville slid out.  When I took the job, I let the Big East office know that we would love to get into Maui if we could.  Fortunately, they gave us an opportunity to come and I've already shared with them that we would love to come back.  It's a coup to be here.  For everything that goes on in college basketball that doesn't have to do with March Madness, this tournament associates us with class programs from around the country.  When you turn on the Maui Invitational, and you see the EA Sports logo on ESPN, it's a great showcase for your program and it's where we belong.  You can only do it every four years, but I'm trying to make sure that we can continue to stay in the rotation."


He won't have to twist my arm to come back.


I'd love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.


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1 Comment

The Westin Maui is where Kathy and I stayed last year before coming over to Oahu for football. If you haven't done the pricey breakfast buffet yet, it's worth it. View really sucks doesn't it?