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Beyond the screaming, there's a (winning) method to Mick Cronin's madness at UCLA

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES — He looks like a madman, stomping around the sideline as if he's smashing grapes.

Yelling at officials and his own players with equal abandon, his howls can be heard in the upper reaches of any arena.

Win or lose, the words flow freely in his public comments afterward, no one spared from biting critiques.

Some see these animated displays and wonder if Mick Cronin is being abusive.

His players have come to invite the invective, knowing where it will lead them.

"He doesn't care about how you feel," said Jaylen Clark, the Minnesota Timberwolves rookie who went from a lightly recruited high school player to a Final Four participant and the Naismith college defensive player of the year under the guidance of the UCLA basketball coach. "He's going to get everything he feels like he can get out of you even if you don't see it yourself."

 

It usually doesn't take long for the Bruins to see it. Center Kenneth Nwuba, who signed up to play for the easygoing Steve Alford only to find himself sticking around for five more seasons under the demanding Cronin, once approached the latter mentor with a startling message.

"Coach," Nwuba told him, "we play better when you yell."

That's not much of an ask. Type "Mick Cronin" into a YouTube search and one of the auto-populated options on a drop-down menu is "Mick Cronin mad."

Yep, he can run hot beyond the three technical fouls he has earned this season, the redlining going back to his days at Cincinnati.

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