Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mick Cronin: "It's Got the Makings of a Great Game"

Decided to fly into Cincinnati a day early to beat Wednesday's predicted morning snowstorms. Also figured I might have a chance to swing by Cincinnati's practice to talk to Mick Cronin and a few Bearcat players about Thursday night's big bout with UConn.

Turns out, Cronin did a teleconference call with UConn beat writers that I could have done from home. No worries, may head over to practice tomorrow to get a few players.

Anyway, here's what Cronin had to say:

"Obviously, UConn's having a great year. Shabazz (Napier) is one of the best, if not the best guard we'll play against all year. Coach (Kevin) Ollie does a tremendous job ... What they lack in strength and size, they make up in toughness from their coach, toughness on the defensive end. They've been rebounding the ball better than earlier in the season. It's got the makings of a great game -- two of the best players in the country going at it, two ranked teams. It should be a great environment."

"To win a league title, you've got to have a couple of all-league players. Sean Kilpatrick and Justin Jackson have proven that. If the season ended now, one will probably be (AAC) Player of the Year and the other will be Defensive Player of the Year. But there's a long way to go. Shabazz Napier will have a lot to say about that."

(will UConn and Cincinnati be two of the conference's standard-bearers for years to come?)

"Speaking for Cincinnati, I hope so. But I think it would be presumptuous to think other teams aren't going to emerge. SMU is 10-deep, and with their recruiting class what could be next year ... Cincinnati, Memphis, UConn -- for any conference, you want your marquee teams to be good. It's not as easy as it seems, which makes what Jim Calhoun did there so unbelievable, and what Coach (Bob) Huggins did here so unbelievable. It's not as easy as you think. Players don't just sign at your school, you don't just win games because you're UConn or Cincinnati. Sometimes, it's taken for granted. I think it's a lot harder to sustain than people realize."

*** DeAndre Daniels participated in practice on Tuesday. He had no restrictions on what he could do, but participated to a lesser degree than everyone else (less reps, etc.). Daniels did experience soreness in his injured right ankle, but he is feeling better and still considered day-to-day.

Said Cronin: "I hope he plays. I'm a big karma guy. I believe in rooting for kids, positive energy. I hope he's OK and is able to play. We'll absolutely prepare for him to play. We wish him nothing but the best."

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