UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin talks to reporters ahead of a practice session Tuesday morning at the Mo Austin Basketball Center. Cronin talks about what’s at stake in the ASU vs. Arizona game, the Sun Devils’ ability to protect their rim, Amari Bailey’s injury status, Will McClendon’s ball safety and Adem Boehner on the floor Positivity inside and out.
A conference championship is the ultimate goal, but would winning both go a long way towards that goal and make you a good seed?
certainly. You gotta win one at a time, man. No matter what happens this week, we will still have USC next week. We just have to try to get better. You know, the things I tell these people — you’ve heard me say it — you know, talk about their experiences. I know for other guys, ‘If they win this game, they win the Pac-12, they get a seed. ’ For the kids — especially your kids, it’s their last year, some their only year — it’s about their experience — at least I try to do that for them. So I’m assuming we’re going to have incredible crowds at both games, and when you put in the work like this team and the guys that put in the work, I give them all the credit, they earned their participation Big game rights. You know, there’s nothing better than going out with all the crowd against you. I mean, I’m trying to get them to accept my personality, and I like that. You know, I took this job, you’re on fire, you know, you’ll never go through that again, that’s what I tell these guys when they leave college. There’s nothing like the big college basketball games, so they’ve earned the right to play in those games and have fans waiting for them. We don’t really worry about that; adversity comes in the form of Arizona State, and coach Hurley has done an incredible job of holding this team together.If you look up the definition used by the transfer portal [chuckles], you know, they started five transfers, one came a year ago but the others, it was their first year and it was a fantastic job to be able to do that. In this day and age, you can do that and give all credit to Bob for doing a great job of keeping his team together. You know, guys who’ve been there and helped them off the bench, you can’t sweep Oregon like they did, especially not like they did. They look like the original Golden State Warriors in Oregon. When you see the score, you think Oregon might not be playing well, and then you watch the movie, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Their shooting performance is unbelievable. So, a lot of the challenges, and their players are the real challenge — they’ve got the speed, they’ve got the veteran, obviously having a good time together. Probably the most unselfish Arizona team I’ve ever seen.
What do you see in our rim protection?
If you look at their stats, they block shots. Uh, Washington blocked them, but the big guy from Phoenix on the bench blocked them, but the Cambridge guy did it, they’re just athletic, the way they defend, the way they turn the ball with their athleticism, if you think you They just want easy layups — but they always have. You better be prepared to fake shots, get fouled or get wiped out, because here they are, and they’re doing a great job.I never look at Pac-12 stats, I’ll assume they lead the league in blocks [RIGHT THERE WITH USC]. Very similar to how we handled it against USC in the second half, you put the ball in — it’s one thing to make it, it’s another thing to make it.
He is much better.he has an aggressive shot [session] Yesterday, it looked like a good shot.
day to day. day to day. Johnny got it, I’ll take you back – you guys weren’t there, we were doing Zoom, COVID year, Johnny had a foot problem, they called it a stress reaction, it wasn’t serious, but if you don’t let it calm down, so It’s just constant bone scans and all that sort of thing, so just as you’re dealing with — at UCLA, most of our players are going to have a post-UCLA career, so you have a sense of that Things are to be conservative. So it’s kind of like his progression.
Does he need to practice a certain number of days before the game?
Yeah, I mean around here, again, I always joke, I’m smart, but I don’t have a medical degree, so they all do what they do, they acquit him, give him to me- this That’s when I take over; I don’t take over until they’re back on the field, I don’t play a player that I don’t think he’s ready for, so you can’t go from no practice to play, so how much depends. I need to see it.
are you going today
No, he was still doing business as usual.
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Did the doctor say when this might happen?
Oscar accidentally stepped on his own foot against Kentucky and then again against Davis.
Will 100 minutes with zero turnovers?
How crazy is it to take a year off?
He took two years off from school and didn’t play his senior year of high school. Incredible stats. Getting Will back in there and making him comfortable, but right now, I’m actually asking him to be more aggressive. Like, I’m going to do it again in practice today. He’s a great team player, he’s worked at Bishop Gorman too – and he’s still feeling comfortable, you know, Will wants to take the knee brace off, so he’s lobbying the medical staff to let him take it every day Drop that thing, but I’ll go to him at some point in practice and say, ‘Look, if you don’t shoot for the next five minutes, you’re going to be on the treadmill,’ like you have to be in the next Two baskets in five minutes or you’re on the treadmill, just trying to make him more aggressive. Will’s a smart player and he knows he’s on a veteran team and he just wants to fit in and you know I appreciate that but I also know he’s more offensively so I have to make sure He knows I want him to try to do that more and more, so I have to keep doing things with him during practice. That’s an incredible statistic – I wonder when someone will bring it up.
What is Adem’s favorite place?
Well, with a guy like him, that’s usually always the answer, it’s just his character, his personality, who he is as a person. Now, anyway, at 8 o’clock on Thursday, it’s going to be his ability, you know, the last 10 minutes against Colorado, his basketball ability, but our job when you can coach a player who is really good but also has everything You need an attitude — like, in our little world of coaches, we’re always lamenting to each other, it’s a non-stop miserable society, ‘You know, this guy can’t play,’ you know, when we’re sitting around ‘He can’t do this, he can’t do that’ when you can find a player with an unbelievable attitude, my team is full of them, you know it, you gotta enjoy it . I know I look nervous because we want to do something great this year, but I’m well aware of the situation because I have a lot of people like him, but you ask him specifically, Adem is someone who said he Lift everyone in the room. When he walks in the room, he lights up the room, you know, any team he’s on, everybody’s going to play a little bit harder because they’re with him. You always want a guy who stays positive and always tries to lift his teammates up, and he’s just a really, really good guy — a really good guy.
Where does this positivity come from?
It’s hard to say. I mean, some guys are like that, but he’s in the top percentile, he’s in the CEO percentile for attitude and energy level; it’s really hard to find. I feel like the last modern day of basketball, like he has Kevin Garnett’s energy level. Like, when Kevin Garnett was playing, it was easy for him to play as hard as he played, and people would ask him, and he’d be like, ‘Well, that’s easy for me,’ like, um, yes It’s easy for you, but no one else plays as hard as you, so when you ask Adem, I’m sure he’s like we don’t. But for him, it’s normal. But it’s really, really valuable to a team, especially in a team sport, because it lifts you up and lifts up the other teammates.
Anyone else you’re trying to get more out of offense?
Yes, all freshmen — Dylan, Abramo. You know, the guys who started since Amari went down, they’ve been pretty consistent, but the rookies, it’s been tough because they haven’t gotten a lot of extended minutes, but they’re all talented, but they’re developing. One of the big things we tried to do in practice, and you saw it in Washington, Abramo came on in the first half and he didn’t hesitate to hit the field goal. Like this week, ASU has 10 guys — it’s always been 10 guys, so our starters won’t be able to record and play Ironman-style minutes with ASU, so I’d say the key to ASU is Dylan, Will, Abramo, Kenny, Mac – these guys are going to have to give us some quality minutes, so we work really hard on these guys in training so when their number is called, they know that Just because they don’t play a lot, they don’t go out there and play like you don’t belong to them; play your own style, but it’s hard for them, you know, you don’t get more playing time, It’s hard to find a rhythm on offense.
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