March Insanity First Four 2021: UCLA victory turns into family reunion for Bruins coach Mick Cronin, father

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Mick Cronin was the head men’s basketball coach at Cincinnati for 13 years, which intended he performed someplace north of 1,500 practices. For all but just a few, only some, his father, Hep, sat in a folding chair against the reach wall of the Bearcats’ basement follow health club. It was the finest perk of the job.

The courtesy automobile was good for Mick, as were working at his alma mater and passing the Oscar Robertson statue on a day-to-day foundation. However a gigantic gamble to maintain his father take a seat in on his practices? That was an big reason Cronin at one point angled for the university to give him a lengthy-timeframe extension on his contract. He didn’t must leave for extra money and the opportunity to work at a permanent vitality if he might well likely likely dwell in his fatherland and maintain his dad within the health club everyday.

That offer by no manner came, although, and UCLA’s did. In April 2019, the Bruins supplied him the probability to interchange Steve Alford as head coach, to take a seat down down within the same chair where John Wooden once claimed 10 NCAA championships. It was no longer doable to claim no underneath those conditions. And, whats up, Hep might well likely likely spend mighty of the iciness out west if he wished.

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Then came the pandemic, and COVID-19 managed what neither belief 2,000 miles might well likely likely: It kept the Cronins apart.

They saw every other Thursday evening as the NCAA Tournament opened. Happily for the two of them, the Bruins were invited to compete and the occasion is being staged in Indiana, accurate up Interstate 74 from Hep’s house in Cincy.

The 2 saw every other in person for the first time in a one year. And collectively — albeit separated by a railing between the stands at Purdue’s Mackey Arena and the basketball court docket — they indispensable UCLA’s 86-80 extra time victory over Michigan Reveal within the First Four.

“Or no longer it’s licensed to have him. You perceive, he’s getting aged,” Mick Cronin suggested newshounds after the game. “I am teasing. You perceive, I discuss over with him every single 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 demonstrate to him the solar is already increasing over the Santa Monica Mountains. I’ve bought to position my shades on. So I mess with him every single day.

“I had no longer considered my dad since our Arizona Reveal win final one year on the reside of February. COVID hit, he canceled his flight to Vegas (for the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament), trying to care for stable, no longer traveling on airplanes. . . . So, talking to someone every single day, it’s irregular to have him. Closing one year, he’s flying out every month, spending per week with me. So it was big.”

Here’s the 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament for Cronin, his first at UCLA. No longer many coaches maintain streaks as lengthy: Kansas’ Bill Self does, and Gonzaga’s Designate Few, and the man on the reverse facet in this affair, Tom Izzo.

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Winning against Michigan Reveal, within the attend of 27 points from ahead Jamie Jacquez and 23 from taking pictures guard Johnny Juzang, manner the Bruins reach to play Saturday against No. 6 seed BYU within the match’s first spherical.

And it manner one extra element for his or her coach.

“Now I collect to have him again,” Mick Cronin talked about.

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