CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati’s 78-76 loss to Butler was a highly entertaining game -- lots of offense from both sides.
UC coach Mick Cronin could do with a little less entertainment.
Cronin was steamed after the game -- not just because Butler’s Roosevelt Jones made a driving layup off a loose ball at the buzzer to win it. It was the first time I’ve been in a postgame press conference with Cronin for a while.
The man speaks his mind. He started with:
“Obviously a hard fought game. So I will say this now so people can’t say I didn’t say it. We did a lot of things well. We have some guys who can put the ball in the basket, but for 10 years we have heard the same thing, ‘Cincinnati has to score more.’ All I know is if you defend, rebound and take care of the ball, you will win 75 percent of the games. We didn’t defend, we got out-rebounded on the offensive glass and we didn’t take care of the ball. I would be saying this if we would have won the game tonight, I would not have been happy.”
“I thought Butler was the tougher team all night and you all who have been covering Cincinnati for a while know how much that drives me crazy. That is really, really hard for me to digest. One thing I try to pride myself on is that when our fans come to the game, they know that we are going to be the tougher team, or at least we are going to be equal. Tonight, the stats show it all. They shot 14 more balls than us. How did they get those? More offensive rebounds and more turnovers. They had seven steals and we had two. So, we have a long way to go in the toughness department in my opinion.”
If you thought Cronin’s health scare was going to mellow him, the postgame presser went a long way to show it did not.
All of what Cronin said was on point. But the game -- UC’s first loss after seven straight wins to open the season -- should not have been discouraging for Bearcat fans. Given that UC’s got a lot of scorers, the Bearcats could have a very good team when its toughness factor reaches Cronin’s standards.
UC shot 50 percent. Octavius Ellis had a monster game: 16 points, 12 rebounds, 4-for-4 from the floor, two assists (including a beauty out of the trap) and two blocks. Freshman Jacob Evans III is a dangerous shooter. Troy Caupian holds it all together.
The Bearcats play Morgan State Sunday, then are off until Crosstown Shootout at Xavier Dec. 12.
The Shootout should be highly entertaining. But for the Bearcats to beat XU, they’re going to have to do all the things Cronin talked about.