Heard it From Hoard: Column 70
Is it an excuse when it's the truth?
I hear it from people all of the time and read it on the message boards - you're tired of hearing about UC's lack of experience and/or how the team would be much better if it had Cashmere Wright.
Apparently, when it comes to sports, honesty is not the best policy.
Two years ago, mighty UConn had a team built around freshman and sophomores and didn't even go to the NIT. Last year, Providence lost its starting point guard to injury, finished with a losing record, and head coach Tim Welsh lost his job.
In those cases, one team was dealing with inexperience and the other was playing without its only true point guard - Cincinnati is battling both issues.
An excuse or the truth?
Here's what there is no excuse for: a lack of effort. After lousy performances on defense against Marquette and Providence, I watched Mick put the 'Cats through two slugfests at practice that would have made good programming for the UFC. The end result wasn't a win over Connecticut, but it was the type of effort that will produce victories over teams that don't have six probable NBA draft picks on the roster.
I've also heard from those of you who think Coach Cronin is getting a free pass in the media. Perhaps experts like Jay Bilas, Andy Katz, and Mike DeCourcy - who have all lauded the rebuilding job that Mick is doing at UC - see the big picture instead of the most recent loss.
I'm not sure that a coach has ever had a more challenging rebuilding job than the one Mick embraced at his alma mater. Consider that he:
A. Replaced a legend
B. Inherited a roster with one scholarship player and no recruits in the pipeline
C. Had to sell patience to a ticked-off fan base that got used to 14 straight trips to the NCAA tournament
D. Is dealing with A, B and C while competing in the deepest conference in the history of college basketball
Excuses or the truth?
There are 15 games left this season and if the Bearcats win six of them they'll finish the regular season with a .500 record. If they win more than that, they'll have a shot at postseason play.
Next year they'll add Cashmere Wright, 6'11" Ibrahima Thomas, Sean Kilpatrick and unless I miss my guess, the best high school or JUCO point guard they can sign (consider this year a lesson learned).
The only two seniors on the roster are Brandon Miller and Mike Williams, and the latter plans to seek an extra year of eligibility.
The bottom line is, next year the 'Cats will have experience and at least one point guard. They'll have a legitimate chance to climb in a BIG EAST conference that figures to no longer include the likes of Hasheem Thabeet, Earl Clark, DaJuan Summers, Sam Young, Jerel McNeal, A.J. Price, Kyle McAlarney, Levance Fields, Jeff Adrien, Alex Ruoff, Dominic James, Geoff McDermott, and many others.
Barring injury, UC will have no excuses for not taking a big step forward.
And that's the truth. I'd love to hear from you. The address is email@example.com.Enjoy this week's photo of the handsome lad enjoying one of the Fontainebleau's seven swimming pools.