The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball season doesn’t begin officially for another two weeks, but you could make an argument that the Mick Cronin era begins tonight.
That’s because UCLA men’s basketball will hold a preseason showcase tonight at 7 pm PT at Pauley Pavilion. The event will serve as the on-court introduction of the Bruins’ new basketball coach.
So far, Mick Cronin has embraced UCLA and demonstrated how happy he is to be coaching in Westwood this season.
Tonight is the chance for UCLA to embrace Cronin.
In his weekly press conference, Cronin previewed tonight’s showcase.
Cronin explained his thoughts about the showcase. “I think you have to you have to do outreach and you’ve got to make it free,” Cronin said. “My thing was we’ve got to do something and I would like it to be free for everyone.”
Then, he offered what fans should expect to see tonight. “We’ll scrimmage full speed for a half...like a real half with real Pac-12 refs,” he explained. “Then, we’re going to do fun stuff with the students and you know...kids...autographs...whatever they’ve got planned. I know we’ve talked to our student group leaders.”
One thing you probably won’t see is a dunk contest. Cronin joked, “I don’t know how man students can dunk. If they can, we might have walk-on tryouts.”
Cronin also explained more about the showcase and getting more acquainted with the students and fans:
I would think more maybe like shooting. I would think you have more things as students can do. Let’s hope the players win, but yeah you know whatever’s fun. I told them whatever you think can make it a fun event for everybody coming out. So, the little kids can get an autograph...you know...schedules...posters...people get a chance to see the Bruins. I’m gonna say hi to as many people as I can. Thank the students. Start getting students [acquainted to the fact that] I’m the new coach. See, I walk around campus, but the beauty of being short is people don’t see you....With me, I walk around. Some students recognize me, but it’s great. I’ve walked around all the time. So, I just want them to know I will...we’re gonna appreciate them and want them at the games.
Wow! What a contrast from the shroud of secrecy that Chip Kelly has placed the football team in.
But Cronin didn’t just discuss tonight’s showcase. He also spoke about the chart that they keep on the wall. “That’s the turnover chart. I’ve been doing that for a long time,” Cronin explained. “I can’t remember how long. So, you get seven. Once you’re out, your team’s got to run. Then once you’re done running, you get three. When you’re out again, you’ve got to run.” He likened it to someone sitting in the outfield of at Dodger Stadium charting Fernando Valenzuela’s strike outs.
Cronin also admitted what I’ve argued for to make the football team more disciplined when penalties were a big issue under Jim Mora. Cronin said:
It’s amazing what the threat of running does to athletes. It’s really amazing. They’re over there arguing with the manager like, “That wasn’t a turnover.”
Cronin concluded his media session talking about how it’s a misnomer to say he didn’t recruit the guys currently on the roster. He talked about how any of the players could have left, but they chose to stay. So, he argues that he did recruit them.
It sounds like Chip Kelly could learn a thing or two from Mick Cronin. Personally, I’m not going to be surprised when Cronin finishes his first season with a better win percentage at UCLA than Kelly.
Here’s Cronin’s full interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Doors open for tonight’s Basketball Showcase at 6:30 pm. Tickets are required, but are free.