The Cincinnati Basketball Take Police

 [photo by Murilee Martin via Autoweek]

[photo by Murilee Martin via Autoweek]

On Twitter I asked you guys for some help: Send me a bad take you've seen too much of recently. The nature of crippling losses means a deluge of overreactions and angry tweets. Sunday's loss was a doozy, and jilted fans have taken to the internet streets to air their grievances.

I'm going to state the bad take and respond to each. Simple enough?

Fire Mick Cronin.

Guys, let's take a step back here. As with most things in life, there are gray areas. Is Mick the best coach in the country? No. Should he be fired? No. I understand the pursuit of perfection, but that is an unattainable goal at any program, especially Cincinnati. Look around at some of the top coaches in the country: Tom Izzo, Tony Bennett, Chris Mack, and Roy Williams were all knocked out of this year's tournament early. Those are guys that could get hired at literally any program and they all failed in this postseason.

Now, Mick's wart is that he's never had the tournament success. Is that an issue? Yes, 100%. I have no idea what the hang-up is, but the pressure is mounting and you better believe Mick is feeling it from all sides.

However, let's look at what Mick brings to the table: He inherited a trash heap and has now made eight consecutive tournaments while averaging 26 wins per season. He's a UC alum and coaching for (probably) less than he's worth because it's what UC can afford. Do you know how many universities would drop everything for loyal coach on a cheap deal who guarantees 26 wins and a tournament appearance while avoiding NCAA sanctions? Literally 99% of Division 1 schools. And, tough luck, UC is not in the top 1% of Division 1 athletics right now.

Take umbrage with the tournament failures all you want, but Mick is 100% the guy for the foreseeable future and success in all facets but a single-elimination tournament is not grounds for firing at Cincinnati. Sorry.

I give zero blame to Cronin for the Nevada loss.

Yeah, baby. OhVarsity's third law states: For every bad take, there is an equal and opposite bad take.

Let's cut to the chase: Cronin gets blame for the loss. I'm not forcing you to blame him, but you'd simply be wrong not to. The blame in sports (especially collegiate) ultimately falls on the coach. Even Mick would admit this. Without going further, that's where this debate can end. Mick, like it or not, holds the responsibility for the program's success.

Go re-watch the Nevada game and that becomes even more apparent. With the Bearcats beginning to flounder, desperately searching for stability, Mick was losing it as much as the fans were. Forget the game plan or anything like that, I think Mick's temperament during the meltdown is enough to assign at least partial blame for the loss. Speaking of this...

Mick puts too much pressure on his kids... the players are looking over their shoulder when they screw up.

Let's knock out the easy part: Does Mick put too much pressure on his players? No. The goal is to win the game and that means pressure. I doubt you'd find a former Cronin player who said the pressure was coming from Mick and not from their own desire to win. That's just how sports works. If you don't want pressure, you shouldn't be playing.

That being said, I actually agree with the opinion about his in-game style. To be fair, there are plenty of situations where intensity is required and works. Sometimes certain players respond to intensity, especially in practice. However, intensity when it's time to execute should be used sparingly. Again, nobody on that floor should need a fire lit under them during the game, generally speaking.

When things are spiraling out of control, I feel that Mick should be the calming force. His intensity at the end of the Nevada game only served to amplify the team's struggles and I feel like it directly led to two terrible offensive possessions at the end of the game.

My philosophy is to practice hard and play loose. It feels like most of UC's success in close games comes when Cronin has a calmer demeanor.

Mick doesn’t sign high profile recruits.

From a factual standpoint, I guess this is correct. Mick is not landing five-star kids. However, has that been necessary? Look at UConn and their huge recruiting class in 2015 that just capped off back-to-back losing seasons in a bad conference. Cincinnati, meanwhile, rarely signs top-100 kids and has won 61 games in the last two seasons.

The Bearcats don't need to be signing the flashy kids, they need to be signing the right kids. Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, and Jarron Cumberland were all notable recruits, yet not anything outsiders would call a huge catch. They won 61 games in two years. The tournament success is the knock against them, but do you really believe Gary being a Top 25 recruit instead of Top 100 would've changed that?

I think Mick's recruiting was a valid knock in the Big East days. The kids were too raw and they had no scorers to rely on. Since the switch to the American, I'll dismiss all recruiting issues. The kids Mick recruits and develops are the kids UC needs. I'd take more talented kids, sure. But recruiting is not holding UC back to the degree people think it is.

A #2 seed is a once-in-a-decade seed for this conference. The AAC is holding the Cats back.

Is the AAC holding Cincinnati back? Yes and no. The athletic department is undoubtedly hampered by the conference and its lack of prestige and revenue. However, I think the AAC's impact on Cincinnati basketball on a game-by-game basis is overblown. The American didn't blow a 22-point lead, the Bearcats did. The Bearcats are getting the kids they need, competing at a high level, and even building a new arena. It's not easy, but it's happening. The athletic department is successfully mitigating the conference's negative impact.

Is a #2 seed a once-in-a-decade seed for this conference? Honestly, maybe. The Bearcats were deserving of a #2 this year, and that's what they got. But it took near-perfection on their end as well as extreme parity on the national landscape. Can an AAC team do it again? Sure. But I think this was a bit of a perfect storm. Going forward, I think we can assume an AAC team, through a confluence of factors, will be seeded about one line lower than where they deserve. In that sense, yes the AAC will be holding UC back, but again: I think that impact is overblown. Just find ways to win games in the tournament and don't blame it on the conference like UConn fans do.

Cincinnati won’t make the tournament next year.

To that question: Show me any evidence to back up this claim. Mick Cronin has piloted eight tournament trips in a row. I have zero reason to believe it will stop next year. The Bearcats lose talent, but they bring back plenty and will face a conference where piling up wins is easy and where every team seems to be simultaneously reloading. The AAC is wide open and the Bearcats have Mick Cronin with players like Jarron Cumberland and Cane Broome. I'll believe they miss the tournament when I see it.

The season was a waste & unsuccessful.

Skip the regular season and conference tournament next year. Only watch the NCAA Tournament if that's all that matters. You'll save yourself a ton of time.

Jacob Evans is not ready for the NBA and/or won't be drafted.

Is Jacob Evans ready for the NBA? I feel he is, but I've also got news: The NBA doesn't care. This is a league where it's all about athleticism, potential, and fitting into a specific role. Jacob is a 6'6" projected guard who can handle the ball, guard four positions, and has a beautiful shooting stroke. He's also 20 years old. Teams are salivating. I encourage you to watch a few NBA games, because half the guys running around out there do what Jacob Evans does.

A sampling of guys in Jacob Evans' general mold: Klay Thompson, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Trevor Ariza, and Robert Covington. That's a pretty good group of guys with successful NBA careers.

Saying Jacob Evans won't be drafted at all is the worst take in this whole post. It's just wrong. If someone wants to debate me on whether Jake will go in the 22-30 range or the 31-40 range, I'm open to that. He's a likely first rounder, but there's some chance he slips to the top of the second. To argue he won't be drafted at all is patently false.

Mick Cronin is a bad coach because he only coaches defense.

Dear mystery hot take artist: Why'd you stop watching the Bearcats in 2013? They've been pretty fun to watch since then!

Mick Cronin had the #34 offense last season and the #49 offense this past season. Feel free to criticize offense, but this MICK CRONIN DOESN'T COACH OFFENSE AND DOESN'T CARE ABOUT IT business that keeps persisting is just dumb. If being #2 in defense and in the top 15% in offense isn't good enough, I don't know what to tell you.

Jacob Evans would be best served to come back for his senior season.

If he's doing it because he feels an obligation to his team, then okay. If he's doing it to finish his college degree, then okay. If he's doing it to improve his NBA Draft stock, he's wrong. Spoiler: Jacob Evans will not return in order to attempt to improve his draft stock. Why? Because it's not worth it and wouldn't make sense.

2018 Jacob Evans has a great blend of potential and proven production. The vast majority of NBA draft boards I've seen place him at the end of the first round. NBA scouts know he can play well enough and his age and athleticism give them the belief they can teach the rest.

Let's say his projected spot is around #25 right now. If he comes back for his senior season and proves he can average 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists, maybe that pushes him up to the high teens on draft boards. Remember, he's also aged a year in this situation and he's risked injury and he's made no money for he and his family.

So, Jacob. Are you going to work for free for another year, risking career-altering injuries in order to slide five or six spots up that draft board? Probably not. There are reasons to come back. Serving the best interest of his NBA career is not one.

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