Friday, October 9, 2015

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin's friends 'may not necessarily be in the Big East'

Courtesy of ASAP Sports, here's a transcript of Cincinnati's press conference ahead of Friday's NCAA tournament game againts Creighton at the Wells Fargo Center.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin's friends 'may not necessarily be in the Big East'


Courtesy of ASAP Sports, here's a transcript of Cincinnati's press conference ahead of Friday's NCAA tournament game againts Creighton at the Wells Fargo Center.

Q. Can you guys, all three of you, talk about the difficulties that Creighton's offense presents because of the shooters that they have and the way they spread the floor?

CASHMERE WRIGHT: I mean, when you've got like 23‑point scorer on your team, it's kind of easy to focus in on one person and forget that the rest of the team can really shoot the ball and spread you out and that's what they want to do, so it's kind of easy for us to lapse on defense and focus on one player instead of playing team defense and just play how we play.

I feel like that's going to be the big thing for us, just to keep playing defense, pressure them and keep playing all‑out D how we play it.

JAQUON PARKER: Yeah, I think the same thing he was saying, we've just got‑‑ we do a good job on him, the rest will probably be a little bit more easier on us because he won't be scoring as much and we can focus on other players, as well. I think just playing good defense, a lot of pressure on them, I think we'll be all right.

SEAN KILPATRICK: We know that McDermott, he's a great scorer, but then again, like you say, he does have a little supporting cast with him. We'll just have to continue on playing defense the way we've been playing and just focusing a little bit more on McDermott and getting their shooters. We know they have great shooters, but if we continue to keep playing the way we have, we'll be all right. 

Q. What are y'all's impressions of Doug?

CASHMERE WRIGHT: I mean, he's a good scorer. He's tall, kind of got post moves. He can shoot the three, I think he shoots 50 some percent from the three. That's kind of big time for like a person his height. Really he's looking to stretch us out, but we know at the end of the day, one player can't beat us. We're just taking that whole approach to it. 

Q. Back to the theme of their balanced offense, do they remind you at all of Notre Dame?

SEAN KILPATRICK: I mean, we do know that they do have a little system like Notre Dame, especially, like I said, with the shooters, and I mean, we've got to continue, like I said, just to continue playing the way we've been playing.

We know Geoff, he's a great scorer, and we know that their shooters, they can make it from anywhere, especially if you leave them wide open. It's kind of tough to really lag off their shooters, but I mean, if we stay in front of Geoff and McDermott and we continue to contest their shooters, then we'll be all right.

CASHMERE WRIGHT: I mean, if you look at like both the Notre Dame games, I feel like the first time we played them we played them at home we played pretty well aside from some mental mistakes that we made. So I feel like it shouldn't be that much of a problem as long as everybody is focused and comes to play, we should be all right. Take nothing for granted, play hard and follow the scouting report. 

Q. Everyone is talking about their offense obviously, but their defense is not nearly as tough as yours. What do you guys have to do offensively and how much do you think that you can dictate something there?

CASHMERE WRIGHT: Make shots. That's as simple as it gets. We play much better once we make shots, and that comes from getting to the free‑throw line, getting easy buckets, getting out in transition, and I feel like they're going to help us with that because they try to go up and down just how we want to.

SEAN KILPATRICK: I mean, me personally, I really like the way our offense has been running smoothly lately, especially like with us getting a little bit of easy baskets like on the defensive end. We've just got to continue to keep sitting here getting easy baskets and just hitting open jump shots. If everyone is hitting open jump shots and we're finding the right man when we do penetrate, then everything will be all right. 

Q. Sean, you've played a lot of minutes this season and a lot of minutes down the stretch. The days off between the Big East Tournament and this tournament, does that help you, help you get some of your stamina back, and also, how do you keep your stamina and endurance up over a long, grueling season?

SEAN KILPATRICK: Oh, man. Really it's helped a lot due to the fact that we had a couple days off here and we was able to take ice baths and really massage everything out. But it's tough. I mean, especially playing in the Big East, you play so many minutes and you're playing against high intensity levels like every night.

So I mean, it's pretty tough, and due to the fact that just having that stamina and that endurance to just come out every night and just perform and just these guys; they make things a lot easier throughout the days, and they sit here and have my back throughout everything. I mean, I really give the credit to these guys. 

Q. JaQuon, you picked your scoring up the last five or six games. How have you been able to do that, and is it a directive from Mick who told you you need to score more?

JAQUON PARKER: Yeah, he definitely told me I need to score more, just us three, we all needed to pick it up. I don't know, he's just been telling everybody just like whenever you're open, shoot it, if you've got a drive, take it. So whenever you've got something going, just be confident in what you're going to do and just do it.

THE MODERATOR: We have Coach Cronin.

COACH CRONIN: It's great to be here. Really excited, appreciate the hospitality from our host and the people at Temple where we practiced last night. We are ready to get it going, and I am taking recommendations for dinner tonight. I see Dana is here. Make sure I see you before I leave, please. 

Q. Your father was a coach, so I'm just trying to get ‑ if you can explain the relationship between Doug and his father at this level of coaching, how difficult is that when you're trying to do what your dad did and have that relationship and still trying to have a father son relationship?

COACH CRONIN: Yeah, I remember back in my day, first of all, he lets his son shoot a lot more than my dad let me shoot in high school, and for obvious reasons. But it was ‑ it's really seamless. I think for people on the outside, I remember those days people saying, oh, you don't want to play for your dad. I would say, well, why. My dad was my best friend my whole life, still is, but it's really not an issue I don't think at all.

I don't know if they realize it now, but it's a ‑ now that I'm reunited at home with my dad, I was away from him when I was at Louisville and Murray State and then I talked him into retirement with the Atlanta Braves so he could hang out and travel with us, although he never buys, these are times that they'll remember for the rest of their life.

But as far as the playing for your dad, you know, it's really not an issue as a competitor. I hadn't heard Doug talk about it much, but I think it's great. And I've really enjoyed watching him over the last three ‑ I hadn't seen him just because they hadn't played anybody ‑ when you scout games all year, you catch teams if they played somebody you're going to play, but it just hasn't happened.

So I hadn't seen him at all until Sunday night. They're a pleasure to watch on film, the way they play, and obviously Doug is really fun to watch.

I've known Greg for a while. He's a great coach and does a tremendous job. Really happy for the way things worked out for him at Creighton.

Q. Looking at film of Gregory Echenique, how has his game evolved since the time you coached against him at Rutgers?

COACH CRONIN: Just in much better shape, much better condition. I was amazed at the way he moves on the court and how much ‑ obviously he's lost a lot of weight. I did an interview with one of the local papers in Omaha and the writer was telling me about his weight loss.

You really have to give the kid credit. It's a great story, as you know, how much weight he's obviously lost, his body transformation. It's impressive the way he can play 30‑plus minutes and run around the way they play, the way he defends pick‑and‑rolls and sets pick‑and‑rolls and seems to never get tired.

He's a big‑time player. He may not have gaudy offensive numbers, but he's invaluable to their success, and he would be if he was on any team.

Watching him, you say, man, I wish I had that guy. When you watch film and you say that about a guy, that's probably the biggest compliment you can give a guy. He's what I call a soldier of war. You can go win games with him. He has really turned himself into a winning player.

It's a real credit to what he's done and the staff at Creighton while he's been there. It's really impressive to watch. Really happy for him. I don't know Gregory but he has obviously overcome my friend Danny Hurley's tutelage at St. Benedict's.

Q. Obviously Doug is the focal point of the Creighton offense. How do you think your players respect his game?

COACH CRONIN: Oh, they do. Probably not as much as they did Sunday. But after two days of film, they have tremendous respect for his game.

Whenever a guy ‑ whenever you're able to show he had its of guys making three‑point shots that don't touch the rim or the net, with him you can pick shots that are so clean that literally don't hit anything and let them keep watching them and just stay silent. You don't have to say anything. Finally one of them says, he doesn't even hit the net. That's when you hit pause and say, you see what we're dealing with.

One of my favorite lines I say to our guys, yeah, this guy is a problem, he's a real problem. He can beat you by himself.

Our guys see a lot of great players, but we have not seen a scorer of his magnitude. You know, in the Big East there's a lot more balance in scoring. Like Otto Porter, Georgetown is such a balanced team, obviously he's their best player, but they have other guys that can beat you. He only had three baskets against us in our last game with Georgetown.

I don't know if Doug McDermott has gone a game with only three field goals since he was probably a little kid would be my guess.

Q. Do you ever look around the country and wonder how guys like McDermott or McCollum or Jamaal Franklin sort of fall through the major recruiting cracks?

COACH CRONIN: Yeah, I wonder all the time and I blame my staff why we didn't recruit them.

I think it happens. I think it's a great example that it's not an exact science. I talk about it a lot with some of my friends that are in the pros of the money ball theory where sometimes maybe we get caught up in tools and athleticism and ignore production.

We maybe recruit guys because of athleticism and they average 12 a game in high school and we expect them to average 20 a game in college and wonder why they don't. Meanwhile there's a guy that averages 25 a game in high school but he may not jump as high.

We have the same guy. Sean Kilpatrick was not recruited. He's going to say he was, and we have this argument, but he was not. He was not recruited. And his high school coach will tell you that. He wasn't recruited by Iona in Manhattan and he's from Westchester County. Be he can score, and he got 25 to 30 a game in high school, and he wasn't the highest jumping guy and he had a funky release on his jump shot.

I think it always is tied to two things why a guy is under recruited: Lack of size or lack of athleticism.

Mike Dunleavy, Jr., was the same way. Nobody recruited him until the end when he grew five inches. But the year before, whether it was Cincinnati or Duke, nobody knew who he was, either.

But usually those would be the two reasons guys are under‑recruited: size or lack of athleticism. But yeah, I think we all make that mistake sometimes.

Q. You mentioned the Big East just now. Do you feel like you carry some sort of Big East banner this year, or have you guys kind of cut ties with that sort of feeling of Big East brotherhood?

COACH CRONIN: Right now I think the whole carrying the banner thing ‑ it's never really been an issue, so it wouldn't be any more of an issue now than in the past. Right now everybody is solo trying to survive and advance. That would be no different than the previous years, in my opinion. That would be more for you guys.

And people to sit there and say this conference is their record in the NCAA Tournament. What I would say is the schools involved this year are all going to care about their own record in the NCAA Tournament, and I'm rooting for friends, and they may not necessarily be in the Big East.

So when it comes to that, my players are probably rooting for their buddies in the tournament just like I am.

Q. Your team had a few days off really for the first time in months and months and you have some starters who play a lot of minutes. What's more important during the downtime between the Big East final and the start of the tournament? Is it getting guys fresh and getting their legs back or is it keeping them sharp, and how do you keep the balance between the two?

COACH CRONIN: I would err on the side of being fresh. That's been our philosophy. Like today our public practice will be our only practice. We'll really practice today, and that'll be it for us. We've had enough time to go over Creighton stuff, and I'm just a big believer that fresh legs are going to pay off more dividends than the other way.

I would say that you can over practice your team this time of year, at least that's the way I would look at that. So it's been good for us.

Cashmere Wright, he'll tell you he could always use an off two or day. I think he took two this year. We gave him a standing ovation when he decided to practice early in the week. We just like to mess with him. The guy is ‑ I've never coached a day that has played more injured than this kid. I downplay it because he doesn't want me talking about a whole lot, but for him it's really amazing.

My father, he says, I watch him walk on the court some days and I wonder how is he going to play, and then he goes out and bangs in four out of five threes or something like that.
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