I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but I simply love hearing Mick Cronin talk about the Bearcats. With such a heavy media saturation in 2016, it’s easy for coaches to take the path of least resistance and give non-answers at every turn. Mick doesn’t do it. Each time I hear him speak, I feel like I learn something new about the team, their personnel, and their goals for each game. He’s funny, forthright, and respectful. That’s fairly uncommon in the sports world.
What’s even less common is getting that from the players.
Not only is this Bearcats team talented, but these kids are smart — on the court and off. Listen to guys like Troy Caupain and Gary Clark talk about their play and you won’t hear the usual cliches: We’re taking it one game at a time, I give credit to my teammates, We gotta make more plays, Our execution was solid. These kids know what they’re doing on the court, and they know how to vocalize it.
After last night’s massive win in Ames, Jacob Evans (who’s just a sophomore) spoke at length on his mentality on the pivotal possession in overtime. It wasn’t “I tried to make a play.” Here’s what he said:
“I knew we were in the bonus, and I wanted to get fouled. I knew he wasn’t gonna let me get a jump shot off, so I was trying to bait him. I tried to create some space so he would get his feet closer to me, then I could attack his hip. Coach has always been on me about attacking the defender’s hip so I can get fouled and I knock the free throws down.”
Shortly thereafter, he laughed and admitted that the foul required a bit of an acting job on his part, which was candid and hilarious. “I put a little acting into it, but, you know, that goes with trying to be an elite player. Trying to bait the ref into giving you that late-game foul.”
Gary Clark also spoke with the media, and gave a pretty cool quote about how his mentality and poise has grown in hostile road environments since his freshman year:
“I remember my freshman year at Nebraska, I was… totally out of it. I didn’t know what was going on. Tonight, it’s like — the Bearcats — we’re all together. From the five on the court, to everybody on the bench, to coach. It just feels good to know that everyone in here is against you, and we’re all together.”
If you care at all about this team, I suggest you start following the Bearcats TV YouTube page, because it’s a pleasure hearing from these guys, win or lose.