In an interview with Forbes, UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin said that he would like to lead the nation in offense and I am here to tell you why that is a possibility.
UCLA basketball head coach Mick Cronin has had enough of the false narrative. He is not just a defensive coach, but a coach that also prides himself on developing offensive players.
In a recent interview with Forbes Magazine, Cronin told Adam Zagoria that he gets “ticked off” when he hears that other schools negatively recruit against him and label him as a defensive-centric coach. Cronin added that it is “comical”.
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Cronin went on to list a few players that he developed to prove that he has a focus on offense. He named Sean Kilpatrick, the second leading scorer in Cincinnati history (behind Oscar Robertson) with 2,145. Back in 2013-14 (his senior season), he averaged 20.6 points per game. Jaron Cumberland was another player he named who scored 18.8 points last year and was named to the All-American Atheltic Conference First Team.
Though these are only two examples, the point is Cronin has the ability to coach offense, which should have been apparent, but when you consider what he has on his plate at UCLA, he could once again have a high scoring team on his hands.
Last season, I claimed that the Bruins had a good team, except they were lacking defense, focus, and in-game adjustments. They needed someone to instill those traits in them which could turn them into a contender.
This roster was built with an uptempo mentality in mind. Former coach Steve Alford recruited very good ball handlers, shooters and big men, but things did not always go according to plan. We saw how that style of basketball worked when Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf were on the team as the Bruins were the top scoring team in the nation back in 2016-17. Alford continued to recruit similar talent, but as stated above, the team needed defense, focus, and adjustments.
Just for reference, UCLA has been the top scoring team in the Pac-12 two of the last three seasons, including last year when they averaged 78.2 points per game.
Essentially, what I am saying is that Cronin has the makings of a good uptempo, high-scoring team, simply because that is what he is inheriting. David Singleton returns and could be the most prolific scorer on the team, especially from behind the arc. Jalen Hill and Cody Riley will continue to develop and will be even more dominant under the rim as they continue to have +.500 field goal percentages.
Tyger Campbell, when completely healthy, will be able to move this team up and down the court quickly. Jules Bernard will add another weapon on the wing. Shareef O’Neal, who is coming off of heart surgery, has been astounding in summer league play.
This roster is full of players that can score and score quickly. Though it will not be a redux of Alford or even Ben Howland for that matter (many claim Cronin will have a similar philosophy to him), the new Bruin coach will have the good qualities of both, which is essentially what he has been doing at Cincinnati.
UCLA was a team that needed more leadership, which is what Cronin will bring. With a similar roster to last season, Cronin simply has to patch up the holes that hurt the team last year. At that point, he could have one of the more dangerous teams in the nation (at the very least the Pac-12), on offense and defense.