(The Breakfast will be up in a bit, but this needed a seperate post)
Watching the second half of the Bearcats signature regular season win of the year -- and the last five years really -- I couldn't help but feel happy for so many people who are on the brink of making the NCAA tournament.
For Yancy Gates, who endured being publicly lambasted and booed to deafening levels by his home crowd to respond by producing three of his most inspired games with the Bearcats. Few have spun adversity into such a positive as he has.
For Dion Dixon, who put in more hours than anyone in Fifth Third Arena's gym this summer in hopes of erasing the memory of a ball dribbling off his foot at
For Rashad Bishop, who struggled through brutal shooting slumps this year, but never quit work and never quit providing blanket defense. To see him knock down all four 3-pointers attempted was a deserved moment.
For every UC player who endured last year's DeSean Butler bank shot to feel the other side of lady luck's effect when Bishop's final 3-pointer found net off the board to pump a wilting lead back to 11 points.
They deserve every bit of praise bestowed upon them today in the wake of the 58-46 win at No. 11 Georgetown on Wednesday. They deserved to enjoy every dance move performed in the
But, more than anybody, I felt happy for Mick Cronin.
No, his team didn't hear its name called on Selection Sunday yet. But, the win over
Talk about gratification.
At some point over the past five years, everyone took shots at Cronin, myself included. Some were valid. Most weren't.
Rebuilding UC was a job nobody wanted. Picking up the pieces without players to do so in the most difficult conference in the country required time and probably a trip to the neurologist.
What happened? He assured players graduated. They do.
He did his best to assure they stayed out of trouble. Knock on wood, so far so good.
He tried to build a winner. He increased the win total each year for five seasons.
What did he receive? A constant comparison to Bob Huggins and criticism to go with it.
Even this season, people questioned the strength of the out of conference schedule. Do you think that had anything to do with UC avoiding the late-season problems of the past two seasons? You think the extra energy is part of the reason they've won four of five while half the league sputters?
People questioned the rotation. Why play so many players? Why Larry Davis? Why play Bishop over Kilpatrick? Depth and defense just beat a team who won 9 of its last 10 in the Big East conference.
People questioned his relationship with Yancy Gates. He found a connection with Gates and his entire team that inspired the junior to battle for rebounds, dive of the floor for loose balls and play to his potential during the most critical stretch of the season.
People question his ability to propel this team over the hump. Even while giving credit for doing what coaches at USF, Seton Hall,
In the world of sports media and constant search for clicks or rating points, we're so quick to criticize. We're so quick to tear down. We're so quick to point out what's been done wrong.
It's time to take a minute and applaud what's been done right.
Mick Cronin maneuvered through his best player declaring for the NBA Draft, losing his top two scorers, dealing with critics allowing little credit after every win, surviving attitude lulls in the grind of the Big East which swallows so many whole and has them selling out unselfishly and playing their best basketball as the season comes to a close.
Now, after Wednesday's win against
Please stand back and give credit to a coach whose rarely received any for the progress of the program. He more than deserves it.
Of course, he'll never ask for it. Like any good coach, he reflected any praise to his players saying to 700WLW last night, "when you got guys bought in defensively the way we are right now, it's easy to coach."
He's certainly making it look easy right now, but everyone knows it's been far from it.