Sick of It: The Cincinnati Bearcats Can't Stick with Mick

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2010

NEW YORK - JANUARY 13: Justin Burrell #24 of the St. John's Red Storm handles the ball against Yancy Gates #34 of the Cincinnati Bearcats at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Patience is a virtue—except when it comes to sports. 

I want to win now—none of that "wait till next year" crap.

Cincinnati Bearcats men's basketball coach Mick Cronin has worn out his welcome after a slipper-shattering 79-76 OT loss at home against the Marquette Golden Eagles.

It doesn't matter any longer if he inherited a program that was wiped clean after the ugly divorce with Cincinnati icon Bob Huggins five years ago. Using the "it's-so-tough-in-the-Big-East" excuse is just as lame. The top tier of the Big East shifts from year to year—except for the consistently mediocre Bearcats.

This is Cronin's fourth year as head coach. He is an excellent recruiter who has been able to haul in the likes of Yancey Gates and Cashmere Wright, and he also took a huge chance with Lance Stephenson.

But the facts are facts.

The 'Cats sit at 15-11 and 6-8 in conference play after a sizzling start to the season. After wins over Maryland and Vanderbilt, expectations grew quickly. A 10-3 start had fans thinking about a possible deep run in the tourney. The sky was the limit.

Freshman Stephenson was looking like the next big thing, with only greatness to follow. Sophomore Gates was punishing weaker opponents in the paint with his bulk, strength, and excellent rebounding.

Not happening.

The players haven't made enough progress during the season. The supposed freshman sensation Stephenson—a.k.a. "Born Ready"—has regressed. He seems uncertain of his role. 

Cronin yanks around his minutes to the point that Stephenson only was on the floor for 11 of the team's 45 in the OT loss.

Gates, who had 14 points in the 22 minutes he played Sunday, sat with 7:07 to go in regulation and never returned. He sat the final 12:07 of the game—which amounted to 48 real-time minutes. The Golden Eagles played down the stretch with nobody taller than 6'6". Gates is 6'8" and 260 pounds.

So Cronin sat his top two players for the vast majority of the game, including crunch time. The Bearcats are a poor shooting team—from the field, three-point territory, and the free-throw line. The offense lacks movement. And the players lack hustle.

The most startling stat a coach can have: Cronin has never won a game in March (0-10).

Check out UC down the stretch under Mick:

'06-07: 1-11 in last 12.
'07-08: 0-7 in last seven, including CBI loss.
'08-09: 1-6 in last seven, including losing final four games.
'09-10: have lost five of seven, and seven of 11.


Preaching patience worked the first three years. This year's underachieving team has no excuses. Cronin simply lacks the "Xs and Os" knowledge necessary to coach in the Big East. He consistently gets outcoached, and his philosophy on substitutions is insane.

The 'Cats have 10 players that average at least 10 minutes a game. The lack of a consistent rotation is wearing on the players—and the blame goes straight to the coach.

Another fizzling ending can not be tolerated, and Cronin should be fired. He might have four more years remaining on his deal, but the team needs a better leader. They clearly are not the most self-motivated bunch. 

The 'Cats need a guy that will get in their faces and demand results. That isn't Cronin's style. He's simply too nice a guy.

UC's athletic director needs to revitalize the program and generate some actual excitement. The foundation of Gates and Wright will be around for two more years. The Stephenson experiment will likely be over at the end of this year. 

Hire a new coach that is recognizable and willing to not settle for average.

Status quo is not good enough.