Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball Philosophy

By Kyle Gilreath

Notes taken from the 2012 Brayden Carr Foundation Coaching Clinic. University of Cincinnati Men’s Basketball Coach Mick Cronin spoke on some of his on and off court philosophies for the Bearcats!

Off the Court

  • Each day his players are being recruited to not listen to him (from outsiders). Accept it and work to counteract that negativity-why wouldn’t your players question you when every single person around them already is? His staff spends an inordinate amount of time at UC recruiting their own players. If you’re not dealing with this aspect, you’re being naive.
  • The first question in every car in America following a game is, “How many points did you score?”
  • People, often unintentionally, are trying to tear apart the program they’re trying to build at Cincinnati.
  • He feels that it is important for his players to know his credentials/that he’s qualified. The reason he name drops NBA players/coaches is so that his players remember that he knows more than their dad/uncle/handler.
  • You can go a long ways toward winning the locker room with a well-timed/well-spaced “My bad”. For example, in UC’s 2 games versus Syracuse, the Orange shredded Cincinnati’s  man-to-man defense during the first meeting. Prior to the second meeting, he placed the loss on his decision to not play zone.
  • You can’t always blame your players. The answer isn’t always beating on them. (It’s not about being right, it’s about winning!)
  • His line with his players is that, yes, he is biased. He makes all his decisions based on what benefits Samantha Jean (his 4-year-old daughter) most. In order to benefit her, he needs to win and keep his job. If they’re acting against Samantha Jean, they (his players) already know who wins that battle.
  • Rule at Cincinnati: Caught going to class without a backpack=Entire team runs at 6 AM!

On the Court

  • Spring/Summer Workouts: All offense (player’s time)
  • Biggest difference between not qualifying for the Big East Tournament in 2007 and GOING to the Big East Championship in 2012:
    1. UC took more free throws, our opponents shot less
    2. UC committed far less turnovers
  • Sell your players on not losing before talking about winning. These 7 turnovers led to 16 points (Show clips) or these fouls (Show clips) led to “x” number of points.
    • Example of a Bad Foul: Fouling a guy who does not have the ball-that is inexcusable.
  • All talent equal, the team that wins the free throw and turnover battle wins out.
  • What they like getting on offense/what they don’t like giving up on defense:
    1. Layups
    2. Free throws
    3. Wide open 3’s from best shooters
  • If you can’t do the following three things, no matter how bad he’d like to, he simply cannot put you in the game:
    1. Play defense
    2. Take care of the basketball
    3. Be in the right spot
  • You have to find a way to win games when you aren’t making shots.

What He Learned from Rick Pitino

  • Let the players believe they’re better than they are (on an individual basis). A player that is supremely confident of their abilities will work their tails off to prove they’re right.
  • Prepare what you’re going to say after the game BEFORE the game. Do not act on emotion, stuff you say after games because it makes you feel better about the loss can come back and bite you in the rear. Decide what you are going to tell them after a win/after a loss before the game is even played.

Cincinnati’s Goals

  • Makes his players tell his staff what they want to do/where they want go.
    • Ask them how they plan on getting there and then give them doable and concise instructions (tangible things they can work on).
  • Most Important: Put it on them constantly, never miss an opportunity to remind the player(s) of those audacious goals they shared with his staff.
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Kyle Gilreath
VP of Coaching Development @PureSweat| Astronaut High School Varsity Coach - Always learning!
Kyle Gilreath

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