I have never even thought of this until it was brought to my attention by one of my peers but, what will happen next year with Mick? I think we all assume or hope that he goes back to his old form as a head coach, the screaming, foot stomping, getting in a ref’s face after a call that he disagrees with, but what if for the sake of his health he shouldn't or can’t anymore? If it isn't in his best health interests, let us say he do what he has done the past nine years. What will happen? How will the players respond to the fact that their coach is there on the sideline but maybe not completely back from his time off. Will Larry Davis possibly take over Mick’s role as the intense and in your face coach Cronin has been ever since he stepped on campus? A lot can happen but there are a few scenarios or possibilities that I think could play out next season at Fifth Third.
Mick will be Mick
I think every Cincinnati fan will hope that this form is what he will take when he steps back onto the court next November in Fifth Third Arena. It is easy to know that he has built this program on defense and intensity and he brings it every night he takes the first seat on the bench, even though he isn't there long. It can be easy to see that the players feed off his fire, and passion that he has. The last game he coached against San Diego State, that game was very intense. It could be argued that the SDSU game became a turning point for the season. Mick is very passionate about coaching at Cincinnati and it shows when he is on the sidelines. A little flashback to when Ted Valentine got in Mick’s face last year in Hartford. Those are the moments that I think we see how passionate he is about one his players and two, his job. Can anybody see a Mick Cronin other than the one we see night in and night out?
Mick will become Mellow Mick
For the sake of his health, and the scare that he had last December. He chills out. Mick is a smart guy, he came out with statements saying that it is just coaching, he has to worry about his health and his daughter Sammi. He is right, I think he could mellow out and not be so intense. The team did just fine without him their this year, I think his presence and evil stare could be enough to light a fire under a player. The question is how will this team react? Those guys know well enough the environment he has built at Cincinnati. Toughness and Defense. Those guys have bought in to the system and won’t skip a beat with the intensity. Shaq Thomas was heard by reporters in the locker room after the loss to Kentucky saying, "We gotta go to work." The passion Mick has instilled in those players is still there. I think the players would probably have to take a few practices and early games to get used to it but, I think they would be fine.
LD takes a bigger role
Larry Davis did a great job this past year as acting head coach; He rallied a group of young guys together over the conference season and they performed well enough to find themselves dancing again in March. This team really did exceed expectations. It took him a while to find a the right lineups. If Mick was the coach this team still would have had to figure that out. LD also changed the offense a bit. They pushed the pace a little more, they shot a little better. He did a great job in my mind this year. With Cronin maybe not being able to be himself, why not think about moving LD higher up on the list. What I mean by this is maybe he could take more the head coaching role, the yeller and screamer when he needs to. Maybe becomes Mick’s voice. They are almost the exact same coach. A few different spots. Mick could also learn a thing from Larry. Mick has been known to yanked kids early after a silly turnover and bench them for a bit. He mostly yells a lot, and that is fine. But maybe if Cronin can mellow out he takes LD’s approach. Let the kids play. It would be almost the Mellow Mick approach that I talked about above. If he mellows out it would be almost like Larry was still coaching and that could turn to be beneficial to the team.This team seemed to be play a bit tight when they got their first dose of Cronin early in the year. LD let the kids play, he got on some guys a few time but really did a good job of letting them play, they looked loose. Which is a good thing. So I know it is highly unlikely but maybe Larry Davis (of course if he stays) can stay in the role he took when Cronin had to leave. Could they share roles, I don’t know. It is just an option.
These things could possibly play out during the year, maybe Cronin takes the role as coach behind the scenes practices, while Davis becomes the voice of the team during games. It could be the other way around. I think this team could be undergoing some changes behind the scenes next year. Yet again I could be wrong and everything goes back to how it used to be. For the sake of Coach Cronin I hope he gets his life back the way it was the previous 8 years without having to worry about your brain and what is going on up there. All we can say at this point is that those guys will have I think a great team with all the key parts returning. Something special will be brewing up in Clifton whether or not Mick mellows out, returns as the screamer, or Larry Davis takes on a role as the second head coach on the bench. This will be something to pay attention to as the time draws near for Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball gets rolling back up.