Plucky, Undersized Cincinnati Basketball Coach Is Unaware Of His Pluckiness

This is the headline on Paul Daugherty's column in today's Cincinnati Enquirer:

UC Bearcats coach Mick Cronin compensates for size by winning: Diminutive stature presents challenges for UC leader

It does? What does Cronin being 5-foot-7 have to do with his ability to coach basketball? Never mind. Daugherty seems to think it does. And he's apparently felt that way for a while:

I've meant to ask Cronin this question for years. It's easier now. UC is in the Madness for the second year in a row, and is favored to escape Round 1 again Friday, against Texas. Mick's height is hardly an issue. Still, your stature shapes your personality. To an extent, what you look like is who you are.

And so I asked him Thursday, "What impact has your height had on your basketball life?''

It has to have been harder for Mick Cronin. And truthfully, it has to have made him a better coach.

Cronin said he has never thought about it. Seriously.

Seriously: Daugherty just ran the entire premise of the column by the subject of the column, and the subject of the column rejected it. Does that stop Daugherty? Nope:

Advertisement

He believes his young age was far more problematic, when it came to landing a head coaching job. "How tall was John Wooden?'' he asked. "Jeff Van Gundy, Rick Pitino?''

Point taken. Except Wooden was Wooden and Pitino has a personality that could simultaneously charm snakes and kill them. Van Gundy, I have no idea."

So having failed to stigmatize Cronin for his stature, Daugherty switches to the backhand and goes after his personality. How does a guy who is kind of short and devoid of charm get a coaching job? Was Cronin ever a player? If so, what kind of player was he? Guess:

His father, Hep, knew Mick's playing days were done once Mick's legs started sprouting hair. "In eighth grade, I had more hair than Chewbacca,'' Mick allowed. Hep suggested Mick take up golf or dedicate himself to baseball. "I was devastated,'' Mick recalled.

He persisted with basketball. Hep recalled Mick attending an all-star summer camp "thinking he was hot stuff.'' There, Mick ran into a 6-4 guard who educated him somewhat. As Hep recalled it, his son came home and said, "I'm short, I'm white and I'm slow.''

"That's a bad combination,'' Hep said Thursday.

Not entirely.

Cronin's size helped define his demeanor. "It makes you tougher,'' Hep said. "If you don't toughen up as a small guy, you're going to get run over. Being small, you have to make up for things. You have to be tough minded and physically tough. You can be 6-8 and soft. You can't be 5-8 and be soft.''

So Mick Cronin is plucky. His dad says so. Now we can ignore Cronin's own account of his own life experience. Time to wrap it up:

So, I got my answer. "In the coaching realm, my height hasn't been a factor. Kids know who cares about them, and who knows what they're talking about,'' Cronin said.

The height thing is no thing. Plus, when Cronin gets on an airplane and flies across the country, his knees don't feel annihilated when he arrives.

Travel is tough. The Cincinnati Enquirer has paid to send Daugherty to Nashville to cover the Bearcats, so he can supply the insights you only get with in-person access. Lookit this coach! He's totally not tall! And now the coach has been made aware of that fact. Whether he cares or not.

UC Bearcats coach Mick Cronin compensates for size by winning [Cincinnati Enquirer]