WATCH: Mick Cronin Talks UCLA Winning Pac-12, Besting Colorado

The Bruins’ coach talked about what a conference title meant to their pursuit of winning a national championship this postseason.

UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin spoke with the media following the Bruins’ 60-56 win over Colorado on Sunday. Cronin talked about winning the Pac-12 regular season title, the big plays from Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Adem Bona at the end of the game, how tough the Buffaloes are at home, the turning point of Sunday’s game and what winning the conference meant to his players.

Pac-12 champs?

Yeah, it was nice. You know, on our way, what we’re trying to accomplish, if you wanna try to stay in the West, you gotta try to win the Pac-12. You know, it’s nice to do it on the road, I take a lot of pride in who we are on the road. It’s hard to win on the road. If it was – 18 games in, to have a three-game lead with two games to play in a high-major conference, you know, I don’t know if anybody else has that. Um, you know, you gotta win when you go 1-for-14 from the 3-point line on the road. So great resiliency, I was – Tyger brought us home late. We were searching for offense, I put the ball in his hands, he was 0-for-5 at half, so that makes him 5-for-7 in the second half. Yep, it was – look, coaching only goes so far. Coaching’s overrated. Good coaching is you develop your players and then put the ball in the right guy’s hands. We had some good execution down the stretch, in spite of some of our foul trouble. To be able to get Jaime the ball, draw some double teams and get Tyger the ball.

Jaime with the home run pass? Did that just happen or was that designed?

No, that was a design. We were either gonna get it to Tyger –I just felt they were being so physical that I thought Amari could get open on No. 14 for that. So I’m glad he made the free throws.

Big block at the end of the game?

Uh, yeah, not a shock. I mean, you can’t just drive it there and shoot it in Adem Bona’s face. That doesn’t work.

Overall, do you like the way you’re playing at this point in the season?

Yeah, not many people are ranked two or three in every metric in college basketball, so if I’m not happy now, I don’t know when the heck I’m gonna be happy. And I get banged on for not being happy.

Any time you come in here, you Tad is gonna give you a good game…

Good coach. And after what happened.

With Colorado’s record where it is, was this a surprise or not?

They’re 11-3 at home. See, that’s all I look at. They’re 11-3 at home, you’re playing a team that’s – and they’re coming off a really tough night that I’m sure coach Boyle – I know him and have great respect for him – I’m sure he was not happy with the fact they gave up 87. We told our team what was coming today, you know? They gave us – they played as hard against us today, physically, as anybody played against us all year.

How big of a factor was Silva going out with 5:15 left?

Well, you know, we both – and it’s hard for me, right now, there was guys – I was trying to manipulate my foul trouble. Amari, Jaylen Clark and Adem Bona all had it. But, you know, with their team, they are reliant upon him, he’s gotta do a lot for them. I’d say O’Brien’s really stepped up.

First career double-double

He’s been better all year. As the year’s gone on, he’s been really good for them. Tough kid.

How do you celebrate this, and does this change your approach next week having the title already?

No, no. We don’t – I told them guys, I don’t want any water thrown on me, man. I’m tired, worried about getting rest, and it doesn’t change anything. Like I said, our goal – along the way, a side effect is gonna have to be win the Pac-12 to try to be able to stay in the West. So we’ve got more games to win to be able to try to accomplish that goal. Also, we have the longest home winning streak in the country we take a lot of pride in. So we’re focused on Arizona State. You know, they went on the road, they beat Colorado, they beat Arizona and they beat Oregon. So Arizona State is where our focus will be.

Didn’t watch that game yesterday?

We were practicing.

What do you think the turning point was in tonight’s game?

Uh, we were turning – early on, our offense was just awful. We were wasting possession after possession. Fortunately, we had a lot of deflections to turn them over. That kept us in it. When we calmed down and got the ball to Jaime in the right spots, that was the difference for us.

Does this qualify as one of your most satisfying conference champions given it’s Pac-12?

I mean, I don’t know. Um, will there be a Pac-12? It’s our second-to-last year in the Pac-12. I mean, who knows. You know, Ben, I’ll make it about the kids. They wanted to win. You know, um, now that you said that, I need to check my contract.

Pretty sure you get a bonus

You would know more than me, is the funny part about that. I’m so ate up, man. I’ve been worried about pick-and-roll defense and Adem’s got his hand down or hitting the roll guy. I mean, that’s all I’m worried about. We gotta get better, short week, we gotta get our rest and make sure we’re ready to go again. Everything we do is for the next five weeks, so that’s really where I’m at. But the kids wanted to win. So, you know, the older you get, like I keep telling you, you gotta make it about the kids. This is something they wanted, and I’m happy for them. It definitely wasn’t our best effort, but I think Colorado had everything to do with that, so I give them credit.

Are you happy for you?

Coaching, you’re the last guy. What’s our record, Ben?


I’m 0-4. The guys are 25-0. You’ve gotta be able to accept that in my business.

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