UC-Winthrop Rock 'N Roll Party

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It seemed like Mick Cronin's postgame presser was set to wrap up and he seemed about to finish his thoughts on the UC 74-57 win against Winthrop. But then Cronin the coach became Cronin the inventor and Cronin the psychologist.


Suddenly, a relatively dull evening featuring a 17-point victory in which UC didn't play particularly well against an overmatched Big South conference opponent turned rather interesting.


Though I don't think anybody even asked whether his team didn't give as much effort in the second half as it did in the first, Cronin gave a lesson on what a modern-day college basketball coach has to endure.


"The worst thing fans say is it was a lack of effort," Cronin said. "The second half wasn't a lack of effort. It was lack of focus. We have some younger guys, some immature guys."


Then, somebody should have been on the phone with the U.S. Patent office.


"It'd be nice," Cronin continued, "if I could put shockers on guys. I know I can't use the dog collar. I'll get in trouble for that. If I could use an electronic wristband ... Today's generation is interesting - it's hard to get them to focus. It gets worse every year. Coaching now reminds me of when I was 19 in my first year coaching (high school) freshmen that had never played organized ball - to get guys to pay attention to detail to improve their own game. It's just a different world. The biggest challenge is that we're psychologists moreso than coaches. We have great kids. It's just the way it is. It's the change in the times."


Yancy Gates, who led both teams with 16 points to go with seven rebounds, basically agreed.


"We have the talent to play with anybody," he said. "When we're focused, we're just as good as anybody. Our weakness is a little immaturity. Those are things that can be corrected."


This, I guess, helps explain why, in the first half, UC shot 50 percent from the field, 72.7 percent from the foul line, outrebounded the Eagles 23-12, assisted 12 of the team's 15 field goals and turned the ball over seven times and then weren't quite as good in the final 20 minutes (in the second half, respectively, the Bearcats were 52.4 percent, 50 percent, a 17-16 rebounding advantage, assisted 6 of 11 field goals and had 11 turnovers).


"What you have to have is enough talent to overcome it at times," Cronin said. "We have a lot more of that this year."


Then, he continued.


"Yancy Gates decided to come to play tonight. Some other guys were maybe ready to go home tonight. We have to all come to play every night, and the sky is the limit for us. We can compete with anybody if we lock in and focus.


"I know how good UAB is. Our team doesn't. We might as well play Duke at Duke. Our guys will be ready for that. We played well in Hawaii, because they were on ESPN every night. The best thing to do is tell your players the other team is ranked."


--Ibrahima Thomas had a nice night, despite playing only 15 minutes because of foul trouble. He finished with 11 points and three rebounds, and Cronin called him solid. Thomas, when he entered the postgame presser, also demanded a French interpreter, so credit him with a sense of humor as well.


Said Winthrop coach Randy Peele: "Whew, he was very good. I knew his length was an issue but he stepped out and shot the ball. When he was away from the basket as the ball was reversed to him, he shot it way better than what I thought he could."


And that's OK with Cronin. As long as Thomas (1 of 4 from the 3) takes open shots from long distance.


"I thought he rushed the last one," Cronin said. "You should never take a challenged 22-footer. The problem is cable TV. In the NBA, they have a 24 second shot. Those guys have to take challenged shots all the time, because the clock is running down. You should only take a 22 foot shot - it doesn't matter if you're 5-10 or 6-10 - you should only be shooting if you're a good shooter. If somebody is closing out on you with high hands, you shouldn't shoot. But three of his four were wide open."


--Nice story here by cnati.com on Deonta Vaughn's offensive struggles. Tonight, he hit all three of his 3-point attempts and finished with 11 points.


"He's worked hard at it," Cronin said. "What I liked in the first half was he didn't shoot the ball at all, because he wasn't open. If he'll get in the gym and keep working at it, and makes sure he takes good shots when he has balance with his footwork, he'll continue to make shots."

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