Cincinnati basketball has been known for their hustle and playing hard-nosed physical defense for as long as I can recall. That wasn’t the case last night, and it led to an interesting post game comment from Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin that involved Luke Fickell’s football team.
Last night, a really good 29-2 Houston team went into halftime against Cincinnati holding a 37-35 lead, but the second half was a different story. The Cougars had a field day after the break, nearly hitting the 50-point mark in the second half to pull away with an 85-69 win.
After yesterday’s loss, Cronin’s frustration with his team’s effort and execution in the second half boiled over, and the idea popped in his head that maybe coach Fickell has some guys in the football program that may be more willing to play his brand of basketball.
“Like I said, I may call coach Fickell. We’ll see. I don’t know when his guys start spring ball, but we’ll have tryouts tomorrow at 3 o’clock to see who gets on the bus,” Cronin shared with an icy stare of seriousness as he referred to the bus for the AAC tournament on the horizon.
“I’m not being funny. 3 o’clock tomorrow we’ll have tryouts to see who gets to go to Memphis.”
Mick Cronin: "I may call Coach Fickell…we'll have tryouts tomorrow at 3 o'clock. I'm not being funny."
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) March 10, 2019
“The beauty of college is, you can keep your scholarship. But if you’re going to get on the plane and be on the team that I coach, you’re going to block out…and then you’re going to go after the ball. That’s not really rocket science.”
For those wondering, Fickell led his team out for their first spring practice this past Saturday, and while some players may be tempted to go play in some AAC tournament action with the basketball team, Fickell and his guys have their hands full preparing to replace 8 starters and follow up the program’s first 11-win season since 2009.
I have a hard time imagining football players walking into Fickell’s office to ask permission to go to the open basketball tryout, but you’ve got to credit coach Cronin for finding an interesting way to get his message across to his team. The AAC basketball tournament will illustrate if his top-20 team responds or not before The Big Dance.