Mick Cronin was the pinnacle males’s basketball coach at Cincinnati for 13 years, which meant he performed someplace north of 1,500 practices. For all however a number of, only a few, his father, Hep, sat in a folding chair in opposition to the close to wall of the Bearcats’ basement observe health club. It was the best perk of the job.
The courtesy automobile was good for Mick, as have been working at his alma mater and passing the Oscar Robertson statue every day. However an opportunity to have his father sit in on his practices? That was an enormous purpose Cronin at one level angled for the college to offer him a long-term extension on his contract. He didn’t want to depart for more cash and the chance to work at an everlasting energy if he might stay in his hometown and have his dad within the health club every day.
That supply by no means got here, although, and UCLA’s did. In April 2019, the Bruins offered him the possibility to interchange Steve Alford as head coach, to sit down in the identical chair the place John Picket as soon as claimed 10 NCAA championships. It was unattainable to say no below these circumstances. And, hey, Hep might spend a lot of the winter out west if he wished.
Then got here the pandemic, and COVID-19 managed what neither thought 2,000 miles might handle: It saved the Cronins aside.
They noticed one another Thursday night time because the NCAA Match opened. Fortunately for the 2 of them, the Bruins have been invited to compete and the occasion is being staged in Indiana, proper up Interstate 74 from Hep’s dwelling in Cincy.
The 2 noticed one another in individual for the primary time in a yr. And collectively — albeit separated by a railing between the stands at Purdue’s Mackey Area and the basketball court docket — they celebrated UCLA’s 86-80 extra time victory over Michigan State within the First 4.
“It is good to see him. , he’s getting outdated,” Mick Cronin informed reporters after the sport. “I am teasing. , I speak to him day by day. And as I am heading down Sepulveda (Boulevard in Los Angeles), I name him and ask him how the climate is in Cincinnati and clarify to him the solar is already arising over the Santa Monica Mountains. I’ve received to place my sun shades on. So I mess with him day by day.
“I had not seen my dad since our Arizona State win final yr on the finish of February. COVID hit, he canceled his flight to Vegas (for the 2020 Pac-12 Match), attempting to remain secure, not touring on airplanes. . . . So, speaking to anyone day by day, it is bizarre to see him. Final yr, he’s flying out each month, spending per week with me. So it was nice.”
That is the tenth consecutive NCAA Match for Cronin, his first at UCLA. Not many coaches have streaks as lengthy: Kansas’ Invoice Self does, and Gonzaga’s Mark Few, and the person on the alternative facet on this affair, Tom Izzo.
Successful in opposition to Michigan State, behind 27 factors from ahead Jamie Jacquez and 23 from capturing guard Johnny Juzang, means the Bruins advance to play Saturday in opposition to No. 6 seed BYU within the match’s first spherical.
And it means yet another factor for his or her coach.
“Now I get to see him once more,” Mick Cronin stated.