Since January 4th of this year the UC mens basketball team has been averaging over 10,000 fans per contest and received their highest honor when U of L's Rick Pitino proclaimed the Bearcats had the best home court advantage they've seen all year. And he's seen a lot for a lot of reasons. He is a polarizing coach; winning coach and controversial figure to put it kindly.
But the return of the fan is one more thing Head Coach Mick Cronin and the mens program can cross off their list of things to accomplish as the rebuilding process is near completion. Not finished but certainly very close. One of the last and most difficult task is convince fans you are doing the right thing, especially when they can't see what you see. I am always reminded of the origin of the word fan comes from fanatical which dates back to the 1540's according to dictionary dot com. as to remind me that emotions are a big driver of fan action.
The current action the fans have taken shows they believe they have a reason to cheer, support, yell and proclaim their allegiance to UC basketball again; and opposing teams who have cruised through Cincinnati the last few years undaunted by the scarcity of such loyalist are probably amazed and in awe at the transformation. Many powerhouse schools like Syracuse and Louisville never lose much in fan support regardless of their record but they've never endured the exile of a beloved coach and a complete vacancy of players.
So we move on and chart the future of UC basketball and the Big East minus some of those who gave birth to its successful concept. I listened to Coach Cronin on the radio last week and he's eager to take over the top spot in the conference as the team who can win and stay on top like the outgoing Orange and Pitt Panthers, this season not withstanding, did for so many years. The way Mick sees it, why can't the Bearcats own the league, expand recruiting in new areas where others once had a stronghold and chart some new ones with the addition of new geographic conference members. It's there for the taking and if you know Mick he has probably made inroads one way or another.
What is going to make this easier for him is the fact that potential players and their families who've watched them play since the first of the year saw you Bearcat fans en masse backing the team with authority. Now that Pitino added the icing on the cake with his compliment, the cherry on top will be a strong showing in the Big East tournament and another trip to the NCAA tournament.
Mick Cronin and the players deserved credit for what they've accomplished but the fans, and you know who you are, deserve a big assist.
That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat