Mick Cronin brings a style and philosophy that will instantly elevate the UCLA basketball team and help them win the Pac-12 in his first season.
Mick Cronin. He is the reason the UCLA basketball team will win the regular season championship (and quite possibly the Pac-12 Tournament) in his first year with his new squad. This claim is not an exaggerated endorsement of Cronin; this is merely a rational observation of a man that will bring fundamentals, accountability, and consistency to the program that has talent but needs leadership.
If we look back on the last few seasons, these are the essential traits that have eluded the Bruins, to no fault of their own. When you are coached a certain way and not coached on certain (imperative) parts of the game, holes will develop and become part of the culture.
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That changes with Cronin. Here is the thing, it is not that hard to win the Pac-12, especially with the way the conference has been the last few seasons. A team like UCLA, which can construct the best roster in the Pac-12 in any given year, should always compete for conference titles.
UCLA should have competed for the title this year, but the lack of fundamentals, accountability, and consistency kept them out of several games and contributed to several losses late in the season. But conversely, they had enough talent to beat Oregon twice, the Pac-12 team that went the farthest in this year’s NCAA Tournament. So there is enough on this team to make a solid post-season run, they need a guide to help them get there.
So with this in mind, imagine what a commitment to defense, the strengthening of fundamentals and an evolving offensive gameplan can do for a roster full of four and five-star players.
Last season, UCLA scored 78.2 points per game and scored 90+ points in nine contests. This number is a good sign for the offense, but the narrative changes when you look at the points allowed, which also explains why UCLA finished the season 17-16.
The Bruins were horrible on defense as they allowed 77.8 points, allowing 90+ points in six games and over 100 points once (against Stanford in overtime).
Last season in Cincinnati, Cronin’s team only allowed 62.7points. UCLA might not hit that number next year, but they should be able to lower at least their points allowed per game, and that will get a few extra wins next season. Cronin’s teams were also able to score 71.7 ppg, but looking at the talent he has in Westwood, that number should be closer to the 78.2 the Bruins put up last year.
Either way, the Bruins will have a more competent coach next season which will immediately elevate their game. That will be a direct factor to the Bruins winning the Pac-12 in 2019-20. It might be a bit too early to say that, but you cannot deny the fact that the Bruins have talent. Now they have a leader in managing that talent.