Cronin named National Coach of the Year by the Sporting News

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin directs his players from the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against SMU, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Highland Heights, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – University of Cincinnati men’s basketball head coach Mick Cronin has been named the 2017-18 Sporting News Coach of the Year.

Cronin has guided the eighth-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats (27-4, 16-2 American Athletic Conference) to their first outright conference championship since 2002 and earned the top seed in this week’s American Championship at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

The 2017-18 regular season saw the Bearcats win a nation’s best 16 consecutive games, grow their home-court win streak to a nation’s longest 39 games and climb as high as No. 5 in both national polls – all Cronin coaching era (since 2006-07) high marks.

The Bearcats’ 16 conference wins tied for most in school history while their 27 overall victories at the end of the regular season are tied for the second most at UC.

UC ranks among the nation’s Top 25 in 11 categories entering the postseason: scoring margin (first at +18.3), field-goal percentage defense (second at .371), scoring defense (second at 57.3), win-lost percentage (fifth at .871), blocked shots per game (eighth at 5.6), rebound margin (10th at +7.7), total blocks (10th with 174), offensive rebounds per game (12th at 13.2), three-point field-goal percentage defense (14th at .310), turnover margin (18th at +3.5) and total rebounds per game (21st at 39.2).

Bearcat opponents are shooting only 37.1 percent from the field this season (second nationally), the lowest in the 12-year coaching tenure of Cronin and the lowest at UC since the 1961-62 campaign (.369). UC’s scoring defense (57.3 points allowed) is the second lowest of the Cronin era behind only the 2014-15 squad (55.8).

Cronin was named a semifinalist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year on Feb. 23.

The 2014 AAC Coach of the Year, Cronin was tabbed a finalist for the 2014 USBWA Henry Iba National Coach of the Year Award for his efforts in helping guide the Bearcats to a share of the inaugural AAC regular-season crown with Louisville.

Cronin is one of only six coaches to take his team to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven years, joining Mark Few (Gonzaga), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas) and Roy Williams (North Carolina).

Cronin owns a 332-163 career record in his 15th season overall. He is 263-139 mark in his 12th season at Cincinnati. He posted a 69-24 mark in three seasons as head coach at Murray State from 2004-2006.

The 46-year old Cronin ranks second in the nation in career wins among coaches under the age of 50.

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