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March 12, 2017

Mick Cronin

Gary Clark

Orlando, Florida

SMU - 71, Cincinnati - 56

THE MODERATOR: Coach Mick Cronin, Gary Clark. Coach, your thoughts on the tournament and then on your post season path that you have in front of you.

MICK CRONIN: Can I just do the tournament then we'll let him go, and I'll do the interview?


MICK CRONIN: First of all, congratulations SMU. I've been telling people how good they are for a long time. They made it look easy, which is hard to do against our defense, really, really hard to do against our defense. That's a credit to them, their talent, their execution. So, I give them all of the credit in the world. They were just the better team today.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take question for Gary.

Q. Gary, why did they have so much success keeping you guys away from the basket? That's their modus operandi. Did you try anything different to try to get more shots?
GARY CLARK: Going in, we knew they were like an over-help team. They're always looking to help each other. A lot of times, we were trying to back-screen them and set flares and so forth. They were just playing hard and executing their defensive game plan.

Q. Gary, can you talk about the start of the game? Obviously, you guys weren't shooting the way you'd like. Did you guys feel like you were going to win it at that point and where did you feel the game turned?
GARY CLARK: Of course, as competitors, you don't think it's over at all until the horn sounds. But when they're hitting shots, you've got to be able to come together as a unit and get stops, you know? They're executing on offense, you got to execute on defense and get stops in. We're scrambling around, trying to cause havoc and get steals and deflections in. They just kept executing.

Q. How disappointing is it to go into a tournament after a game like that? Can you just put that behind you? I guess you have to. Does that make you more determined to make a good run in the tournament or does it have any effect at all?
GARY CLARK: As a team, it's learning and more learning. We have to look at film and prepare for our next game. Of course, you have to put it behind you as a team and just know some of the places that we need help on, to fix it. Because in the next couple games, it's just, you win or go home. There's no room for error.

Q. Are you going to talk about the Tournament?
MICK CRONIN: We went on the board, and I just came in here, so I've had ten seconds to think about it. I've told you everything I need to say about that stuff. What I will tell you is -- it Kansas State and Wake we play the winner of?


MICK CRONIN: We -- I haven't seen Kansas State. I think I only saw Wake play Xavier for scouting purposes, so I don't know much about either one of them. I'm just going to focus on basketball. We had an unbelievable year. We won 29 games. SMU won 30 games. I think it's pretty obvious that nobody was really impressed with that. I don't know what else to say.

With that being said, I don't want the story to be about something I say. You know, we've had a great year, and I'm going to focus on coaching my team, trying to go out there and win two games, for a third trip to the Pacific Coast time zone in the last four years of the NCAA Tournament.

Q. Coach, you're one of, like, seven teams that have been to the NCAA Tournament for seven straight -- for the last seven straight years. Can you just talk about the program and the continuity you guys have had, and where you feel this team is in that continuity?
MICK CRONIN: Well, first of all, I appreciate you bringing that up. We take a lot of pride in the consistency, because what I will expound upon is, the way we try to operate our program is graduation is important; player development is important; human development is important; continuity of players; loyalty to players, four-year players a lot of times. Not that we wouldn't take a guy that wanted to come if he was a McDonald's All American, and he was a one-year player. But we don't believe in sacrificing what the University hired me to do 11 years ago, which was establish integrity, and a culture in our program, and I remember it like it was yesterday. And I was well aware of that. So, it hasn't been easy, because it's not easy to do, to get really good kids, to graduate everybody, and continue to win. It's very, very to do.

So, we take a lot of pride in the way we do things because we know how hard it is. And people in our business know how hard it is. And I keep using the term "we" because I have a great coaching staff. I have -- Antoine Jackson has done a great job developing with us. And Larry Davis is a head coach. He just happens to be on my staff. I doubled his salary so he came with me and Darren Savino and I are on the same career path. He's a head coach. He's on my staff. He just got derailed when things derailed for Fran Fraschilla in New Mexico. I was fortunate to be able to scoop him up.

It's a team effort, what we do. We take a lot of pride in it. It's not easy. It's not easy to do it the way we do it. Winning is one thing. Winning and graduating everybody and trying to have really good kids and representing our University, and being a positive window to the world when people think about the connotation about Cincinnati basketball. We've worked really hard to get that into a positive light, and that's why we have -- we're fortunate we got CBS following us around because I want people to realize the great kids we have on our team.

Q. Is there a downside, and what is it to having to travel that far to get ready for these tournaments?
MICK CRONIN: One of my best -- a couple of my best friends in the world live on the West Coast, so maybe that's the good thing. They're going to be able to come to the game. Here's the downside for us, and this is not just for us. My players' families -- Troy Caupain, three of the four years, he and Kevin Johnson and Zach Tolbert go to the NCAA Tournament, they're in Spokane twice and Sacramento once. That's really not easy for their families to be able to get to those games.

Other than that, I mean -- and that's a big thing. But other than that, we don't believe in excuses. So, that won't be talked about at all by our team.

Q. Mick, forgive me, I missed the very beginning, but I wanted to ask you about -- you talk about each game is unique, you said that many times. What do you take out of today's game. Again, you won 29 games.
MICK CRONIN: I think it's a great lesson and each game is unique. Because in a seven-game series, you come out and miss the shots that we missed, especially in the first half, and a team makes a lot of hard shots against you, and they're good. You can't just come back. You can't just make -- they're too good. You're not just going to get them to start throwing the ball away all the time. You're not going to jump over them and get every rebound. They're an elite team. So you're probably going to lose that game. That's what makes this tournament that we're going in -- this tournament or any college basketball environment, what it is. It's a one-game shot. It's a one-game shot and that's important.

The lesson we'll take from it is making sure at the beginning of the game that you're ready to go. Because we dug ourselves a hole. I knew it was going to be really hard to climb out against them. What happens is their confidence goes up, we're missing, and ours get shaken a little bit, and you've got to try to make sure you get off to a good start. Today, they were just a better team today. They shot the ball in. They even shot guarded shots in. We didn't. We missed a lot of open shots. They were the better team.

Q. How about playing Friday/Sunday, versus Thursday/Saturday?

Q. Does that matter?
MICK CRONIN: I think any advantage of playing Friday is out the window with having to travel to the West Coast probably.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you for your time. Congratulations. Best of luck in the post season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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