Bearcats Breakfast 2.22.11

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Mick Cronin held an interesting media availability on Monday discussing openly some issues with Yancy Gates and even delving into the lack of publicity of his program from the Big East.

One of the traits I like about Cronin is you never feel like he's holding anything back. You never feel like he's trying to manipulate or hide from the media, the fans or anyone else. He puts the way he feels out there because he wants people to understand what's happening with his team, his players and the program.

So many coaches are caught up in worrying about how what they or their players say will effect perception or be portrayed by the media. Cronin puts the truth out there and has zero to hide.

Obviously, as a writer, it makes for great fodder. For him, as a leader of a program once maligned for conduct, it makes for great transparency.

Let's eat...

--- I'm putting together a story on Rashad Bishop and his development into what Mick Cronin called, "the best defender in the Big East and it's not even close."

Unfortunately for me, what was said about Bishop turned into a story before I could even write the Bishop story.

In the middle of that question, Cronin broke off on a tangent about how UC has been disregarded by the folks at the Big East publicity offices and forgotten despite their successful season.

"We don't exist. I don't know if you guys know that. We don't exist on the Big East commercial. I am not on it. You guys watch those games, that's for certain teams I am not on it. We beat Louisville, it's like it didn't happen. They recap the week. There's their win over UConn. (Rick Pitino) is my buddy, my mentor, but it didn't' happen. So we don't really exist, we talk about different teams. We have the same record as them, a better overall record. You'd think we were 6-21."

Does UC receive the proper ratio of publicity from the conference? Maybe not. But the Big East right now follows the trend of the leader who delivers the cash. My favorite national talk radio guy is Dan Patrick. He has a phrase when discussing the news judgment of the WorldWideLeader: "They play the hits."

Yankees. Red Sox. Lakers. Heat. Cowboys. T.O. Brady. 

In the Big East, that means: Syracuse. UConn. Georgetown. Villanova. Pitino. Dixon.

The conference follows suit. It pumps the big names. Many times great stories like the job being done at UC by Cronin or the successes of Buzz Williams at Marquette are lost underneath the marquee.

Time, consistency and a few NCAA tournaments will change that. Unfortunately, for UC right now, the landscape isn't changing.

--- In the same line of conversation, UC didn't receive a single vote in the AP Top 25 poll this week. Not one.

A team 21-6 and 8-6 in the toughest conference in basketball didn't recieve one vote.

For the record, UConn -- 20-6 overall and 8-6 in the same conference -- landed at No. 15. (Not claiming their OOC victories should keep them out of the Top 25, but to be 15 vs zero votes?)

West Virginia -- 17-9 overall and 8-6 in the conference -- received 42 votes. Yes, I'm aware WVU beat UC, but look at the overall resume and they're nearly identical.

As Gary Parrish points out every week, some pollsters could use some help.  

The great aspect of college basketball vs college football, perception means very little. Their fate will be determined on the field of play not the newsrooms.

--- I discussed the NCAA tournament outlook here yesterday and Cronin tiptoed around the subject a bit on Monday. 

He said he doesn't pay attention to much of it, but like the rest of the country, he turns to Joey Brackets.

"I don't have a password to Lundardi's thing, but he is usually right," Cronin said. "I sent him a shirt a couple years ago when I was messing with him. I don't know what his formula is, he's like 99 percent or something."


Lundardi's latest placed UC as a No. 8 seed playing Kansas State in the first round.


Prodded a little more, Cronin did offer this about how much work they have left to do:


"We are in good shape, but we got to win. We can't lose four in a row. We got to try to find a way to go win Wednesday night (at Georgetown). I think a win Wednesday night would cap it."


If UC were to beat Georgetown, currently a 3-seed in Lunardi's bracket and No. 11 in the country it would be hard to keep them out. It would secure at least a .500 record and deliver the coveted road win against a top-tier team. 


Should the Bearcats beat G'Town then lose the next three and whiff in the first round of the BE tourney, I wouldn't place them at a lock, but it would be difficult to keep them out.


--- Bill Koch worked up a story on Yancy Gates and Cronin put forth some new observations on the source of the struggles Gates experienced recently. I could recap all those here for you, but you can read Bill's story and understand the gist.


I did enjoy the line about the clerk at the Shell Station always telling Yancy what he needs to do. And doing the same to Mick.


I was hoping to see this headline in today' Enquirer:

"Cronin: Shell station clerk to blame for Bearcats struggles" 


In seriousness though, Cronin claimed stress was directly responsible for his problems on the court. Nobody knows the issues associated with being Yancy Gates other than Yancy Gates. He's a young man who for the longest time was expected to reach the NBA and bring millions to a growing horde of friends and family.


When the wonderkid with unlimited potential starts to discover limitations, I don't know what that's like. And neither do you. Nor do either of us know how we'd deal with it.


"The problem for a lot of the kids that play at our level and it is really not the kids, it's the others hoping they can make dollars," Cronin said. "That's all their focus is. That's where they put the kids focus there instead of letting the kids play and enjoy their team and have fun and do the best they can. There are too many other people trying to ride the coattails of college players to the NBA and make money off of them."


Cronin also showed displeasure words spoken about his team being insinuated to be about Gates. Being who Gates is and connection this city feels toward him, the junior constantly owns the headlines. Many times, people make their own story.


It sounded like Gates has done a better job blocking those outside agents and focusing on playing with effort on the floor the past two games. Of course, he did just open a Twitter account this week, so, there's that.


--- Jason Williams put together 10 things you didn't know about Mick Cronin. Did you know there are more than 3 million spots on the best seller list? You do now.    


--- I'm a huge fan of the water balloon toss. One of the great games from kids parties that translates to adult parties and can bring together all ages.


Apparently, the UC football team feels the same way I do.


--- Yesterday, I mentioned Mitch Stone's Playdate with the Bearcats and Tommy G has the inspirational recap of the event what Stone is doing for other kids like him now.


--- If St. John's resurgence leads to the return of Lou Carnesecca sweaters, then we are all winners.


--- At the top of the blog, I talked about the open honesty of Cronin's press conference's. Then there is the straight entertainment value of Jim Boeheim. Who went off again last night after beating Villanova. The rants jumps off on playing difficult schedules and if hurts you entering the NCAA tournament. It eventually goes to Boeheim ripping on a local sports talk show host. 


--- On to some randomness...


--- Can you retire someone's jersey before they are done playing? Does Charles Jenkins need a new number for the postseason?


--- Arolids Chapman got a tattoo with 105.1 mph next to a burning baseball on his forearm. If I threw 105.1 mph, I'd probably get it on my forehead.


--- The Knicks finally landed Carmelo. Now the bigger question -- Can Spike Lee play point guard? Because this team needs to fill out a roster.


--- My retired Aunt and Uncle would snowbird in Florida and talk about when they were down there they didn't do much. One day, somebody was having concrete poured, so a bunch of the residents took their lawn chairs down and watched it all the exciting action.


I can only imagine the excitement if this barenaked bandit had busted into their retirement community like he did this one.


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