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Can Mick Cronin Turn UCLA Around?

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Mick Cronin Background

Cronin has spent his entire coaching career in the Midwest and now is making a move to the West coast. He was an assistant at Cincinnati from 1996-2001 and at Louisville from 2001-2003. Then his opportunity to become a head coach came at Murray State where he was very successful going 69-24 getting to two NCAA tournaments. Then he got his dream job to go back and be the head coach at Cincinnati.

His time at Cincinnati (2006-2019) is one of the most successful runs at Cincinnati. His first four seasons were below average as he was resetting the culture and standards compiling a record of 61-68. After those beginning years, his success was as good as anyone during that time period. In that next nine years, he went 235-79 making the NCAA tournament every year. In order to leave Cincinnati, he needed to get an elite job and the offer at UCLA was too good to pass up.

Immediate Goal

Mick Cronin has to reset the culture at UCLA as he will look to bring his grit and toughness with him. The identity of Mick Cronin’s teams is they will outfight you and will leave it all out on the court. The opportunity to get high-level recruits for Cronin will be able to get game-changing talent now as he’s never had elite talent. The opportunity for Cronin to get UCLA back on the national stage is there to take over the PAC-12. The opportunity for Cronin to finally go on big runs in the NCAA tournament is there now. Can UCLA and Cronin mesh together?

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Keys to Success

Adjusting to the recruiting landscape will be key as Cronin will look to recruit more on the West coast. He added Rod Palmer to his staff who has West coast ties that are vital to recruiting success. Also, being a blue blood school at UCLA, he will have the ability to recruit on the national landscape. Now they will be able to go after anyone they want and compete with the other blue blood programs for elite recruits. The ability to adjust the culture of the team quickly and playing his brand of basketball is vital for success. If they get the toughness, defensive mentality and ability to take care of the ball the trajectory for UCLA will increase quickly.

Player development

Cronin is very successful at player development as he did a lot of it in his time at Cincinnati. He helped with the development of players like Gary Clark, Kyle Washington, Justin Jennifer, Troy Caupain, Sean Kilpatrick, and more. Now, he has the chance to do the same at UCLA with Cody Riley, Shareef O’Neal, Tyger Campbell and Jalen Hill, as these four players will be big parts in the resurgence of UCLA basketball. The coaching staff has enough talent on the roster coming back that they can take the necessary steps to look for an NCAA tournament bid potentially in year two.

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The ability for UCLA to get chartered flights for their team and coaching staff on recruiting visits is vital for success. In order to be an elite program, a team must be elite in every category which includes travel. There is a major advantage of not having to waste extra days. With travel, the goal must be to get to the game and get back as soon as possible. Also, a coach should be able to go on recruiting visit and return within that same day. Easy travel is essential in the success for players and coaching staff UCLA must improve upon that.


Cronin is a very good coach who sticks to his principles and can succeed with them. Now that he can acquire big-time players, his success should only increase. He will look to compete against Oregon, Arizona, Washington and Arizona State on the recruiting trail, as well as on the court as they’re capable of being the class of the PAC-12. The key to that success is Cronin’s implementation of his system and culture along with bringing in elite talent that will take UCLA and Cronin’s success to the next level.

Images Courtesy of, Bruins Nation, UCLA Athletics

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