We Want Great. But Can We Appreciate Good?

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When the Bearcats twice failed to get the ball inbounds and let a 3-point lead slip through their fingertips in the last 12 seconds at St. John's, Mick Cronin called it the "toughest loss of his coaching career."


Imagine how Providence coach Keno Davis felt 10 days later.


The Friars led USF by 13 points with two minutes to go . . . 9 points with 49 seconds remaining . . . 5 points with 16 ticks left on the clock . . . and lost by 4 in overtime.


Keno Davis was named the National Coach of the Year two years ago at Drake.


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When UC squandered an early 12-point lead at Seton Hall, Deonta Vaughn admitted that the Bearcats lost their focus after jumping in front.


"We just relaxed too much when we thought we had them and they fought back," Vaughn told the Enquirer's Bill Koch after the game.


Vaughn was promptly ripped on various message boards.  "What an idiot," one person wrote.  "Who thinks they have a team beaten that early in the game?"


I wonder if there were similar posts on UConn message boards this week after the Huskies blew a 10-point first half lead in an 81-66 loss at Providence.


"We just took our foot off the gas. We thought that we had the game won already," UConn forward Gavin Edwards told reporters after the game.


Edwards played on UConn's Final Four team a year ago.


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Here's my point.  Blowing a game doesn't make you a bad coach.  And failing to maintain intensity for 40 minutes doesn't mean a team has no heart.


Everybody is entitled to their opinion about Mick Cronin and it's fair to ask whether he can lift the UC program back to national prominence.  But a tough loss doesn't make him Dave Shula, just as a big win doesn't mean he's Don Shula.


Mick is the 38-year-old head coach of a team that's 14-7 overall, 5-4 in the nation's toughest conference, and currently projected to go the NCAA Tournament.  His team is looking to looking to increase its win total for the fourth consecutive season, and in the last two years he's signed the number one player in the city (Yancy Gates) and one of the most highly-touted recruits in the country (Lance Stephenson).


This year's team is agonizingly close to being 17-4 if not for a blown call (end of regular vs. Gonzaga), a terrible night at the line (10-for-22 in the 2-OT loss at Xavier), and the bad finish at St. John's.  Even winning two of those games would probably put the 'Cats back in the Top 25. 


That's obviously frustrating - it's perfectly OK to want the Bearcats to be great.  We all do.


But in case you haven't noticed, they're already good. 


And working hard to get better.


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


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

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