2013-14 Coach of the Year: Mick Cronin|
July 31, 2014
CINCINNATI - The story has almost written itself. A Cincinnati native, graduate of LaSalle High School and the University of Cincinnati returns home to restore the Bearcats men's basketball team to national prominence. Mick Cronin was recognized as the American Athletic Conference's Coach of the Year in 2013-14 and now he has that distinction from his alma mater.
Cronin led the UC men's basketball team to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season in 2013-14, earning a share of the American's regular season title along the way. He directed the Bearcats to a 27-7 record, a 15-3 conference mark and to a peak of No. 7 in the national rankings. UC spent the final eight weeks of the regular season ranked among the top-15 programs in the nation.
While last year's campaign alone merits the Coach of the Year honor at Cincinnati, the numbers are even more impressive when you consider Cronin inherited a program in March 2006 which returned only one letterwinner. UC was the only program in the nation to improve its win total every season from 2007-11, with that run culminating in a runner-up finish at the BIG EAST Tournament. Today, Cincinnati is one of 16 programs to have earned a bid to each of the last four NCAA Tournaments.
Cronin had the opportunity to reflect on his eight-year run at his alma mater when he received the conference's Coach of the Year Award prior to the league tournament in Memphis. After a mention of his daughter, Sammi, getting the Gibson guitar which served as the award, Cronin immediately mentioned his father, Harold "Hep" Cronin, who laid the ground work for his son to get into coaching.
"I'm a product of my environment," Cronin said. "My father is a longtime high school coach. I grew up in a gym, which is probably why I'm here today."
Cronin also thanked his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, for entrusting him with a program which means so much to so many Cincinnatians.
"I want to thank the University of Cincinnati, the board of trustees and everyone who put their faith in me eight years ago to make me the coach at my alma mater," he said. "It's the honor of my lifetime."
This summer, Cronin has been rewarded for his stewardship of the program with a contract extension from athletics director Mike Bohn.
"Mick Cronin's genuine passion for the University of Cincinnati and his players is a critical piece in our extremely bright future," Bohn said. "We anticipate continued national prominence, growth and improvement in all facets of the men's basketball enterprise under Coach Cronin's leadership."
While it was an important professional piece of the puzzle for Cronin, he was quick to point out that staying in Cincinnati is all about being at home.
"It's good to be home and have everyone know that I'm home."