Heard it From Hoard: Column 21
A former co-worker of mine at Fox 19 had a brilliant tradition this time of year. On the day after Selection Sunday, he would begin coughing in the newsroom. On Tuesday, he would complain about fatigue and a lack of appetite. On Wednesday, he claimed to be on the verge of death. As a result, management did not suspect a thing when he called in sick on the first two days of the NCAA tournament.
Every single year.
Mick Cronin could have kicked back and enjoyed watching March Madness this year, but instead will spend most of the month on the road. Last week he hit the recruiting trail and this week, he's making his debut as a broadcaster by serving as a guest NCAA tourney analyst on The Score-Canada's version of ESPN. In a sense, that's a recruiting trip too since he can promote the UC program to a country that's produced such NBA players as 2-time MVP Steve Nash, Jamaal Magloire and Rick Fox.
While no one would suggest it's good to miss the NCAA tournament, Mick is trying to turn a negative into a positive by taking advantage of his unwanted free time.
"I will be out on the road more than say Rick Pitino or Thad Matta around where we are because they're preparing their teams and I'm not," Cronin told me recently. "So whether I'm out recruiting or out promoting the program, that is a little bit of an advantage. I went through that my second year at Murray State-we got knocked out early in our conference tournament and it allowed you to get your feet under you, get refreshed a little bit, and get a little bit of a head start on some guys."
Potential benefits or not, Mick hopes to never be in this position again as he works toward building a program that will qualify for postseason play on an annual basis.
"Recruiting is the lifeblood of your program and players win games," Cronin said. "Coaches can X-and-O all they want, but all you have to do is look at Jim Calhoun this year and Rick Pitino in his first year at Kentucky (who failed to make the NCAA tournament). We have to build our program through our recruiting and continue to increase upon the talent that we do have. We have some, but we need a lot more to play in the conference that we play in. It's motivating me to get out there and recruit again."
The late signing period begins April 11th. The Bearcats will sign at least two players and hope to add a third. High school seniors Kenny Belton, Rashad Bishop, and Larry Davis signed during the early period in November.
While Mick has been on the road, this is the longest stretch all year that I'll spend at home. Last week my wife Peg was able to take a mini-vacation with one of her best friends, leaving me alone with young Sam. I'm happy to report that father and son both survived-I've attached an updated photo of the handsome devil.
On March 24th I'll head to the Red Sox spring training camp in Ft. Myers for about a week and then on April 5th, the Pawtucket Red Sox play the first of their 144 regular season games at Charlotte. If you're interested, you can listen to PawSox games for free on the internet at pawsox.com.
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