UCLA Basketball: The state of the program according to Mick Cronin

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Mick Cronin speaks to the media after he was introduced as the new UCLA Mens Head Basketball Coach at Pauley Pavilion on April 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Mick Cronin speaks to the media after he was introduced as the new UCLA Mens Head Basketball Coach at Pauley Pavilion on April 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

UCLA basketball head coach Mick Cronin gives his first full press conference with the local media since he was hired as he addressed the state of the program in a 22-minute interview.

Mick Cronin is taking his new position as the head of the UCLA basketball program very seriously and has addressed critical issues with the team. Last week, the new HC talked with the media in a lengthy press conference and gave an update of where the Bruins currently stand.

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Whether it was the status of individual players, chartered flights, recruiting, or APR scores, Cronin did not back down from any of the questions sent his way. You can watch the entire video below (which comes from Bruin Report Online), but I have outlined some of the more essential points of his chat with the media.

Cronin had given updates on a few players and started with sophomore center Kenny Nwuba. Cronin talked about how he is trying to figure out why a player like Nwuba did not get many minutes last season. The coach complimented the seldom-used big man as he said he has good hands, the right attitude, and tremendous strength, but then pointed out that working on his lateral quickness (for example) is something that could help him improve in the offseason.

Cody Riley was another big man he gave respect to as he identified him as a good scorer, a player that possesses confidence, and can attack the basket, but there are also a few areas where he can improve to maximize his production this next season.

Cronin addressed the injury issue with the Bruins, starting with Tyger Campbell. Though he is becoming a lot more mobile after sitting out last season with an ACL injury, the coach said there was no point in rushing him back. “You can’t win games in the offseason, but you can lose them [when it comes to injuries].” The coach reassured everyone that Campbell would be ready by the start of the season.

David Singleton broke his foot in the Pac-12 Tournament and is still on the mend. Though he is out of the boot, he is not yet working out.

Shareef O’Neal, on the other hand, is participating in workouts but is not at 100%. Right now, the biggest thing for the redshirt freshman is working on his conditioning. O’Neal had heart surgery in December and has slowly been getting back into shape since March when he was cleared to start working out. For the big man, it is a matter of getting his wind and strength back up. He also needs to regain some weight as he lost 25 pounds in the process.

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When it came to addressing recruiting, Cronin confirmed that the team has one scholarship left, but he did not discuss where he might go with that last scholie.

The APR scores have been a big deal with UCLA basketball in the last week, and the coach said that he is dealing with it day to day. What is essential to Cronin is that his players are not only getting to class, but they become responsible, courteous, and focus on the right habits.

Chartered flights also came into the conversation, and Cronin addressed when it was appropriate (for him) to use private planes. He agrees it is a good thing for academics, as they can bring more tutors on flights, but also for Pac-12 travel, especially with conference games being so close in dates to one another. But when it comes to recruiting, Cronin said he wouldn’t mind taking Southwest for a short visit.

The HC also stated that his coaching staff is nearly complete (he has one more assistant position to fill), but it could take some time to complete his non-coaching staff.

As for defense, Cronin emphasized toughness. Doing things right and putting in the work is the key to improvement. He noted that scoring and shooting are a very small part of his game and players have to do the things that are hard to be successful.

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What else will lead to success with Cronin?  Sharing the ball, playing defense, getting rebounds, and knowing what a good shot is. It seems simply enough, now to translate that to the court.