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Mick Cronin was UCLA’s third option, and he just ended the Bruins’ 13-year Final Four drought

UCLA’s Mick Cronin (l.) has the Bruins in the Final Four.

UCLA’s Mick Cronin (l.) has the Bruins in the Final Four.
Photo: Getty Images

The starting of this film bought off to a tough begin. And whereas the closing scene hasn’t been written but, it’s already a triumphant story.

When Mick Cronin left Cincinnati to take over in Westwood in 2019 after the college unsuccessfully threw themselves at TCU’s Jamie Dixon and Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, it had develop into clear that UCLA’s status was gone. The 11 nationwide champions didn’t imply something anymore, particularly since the Bruins hadn’t gained one since 1995, that means that the legacy of the sport’s most profitable program was just a “cool story” to at this time’s recruits.

UCLA was determined, and it was uncomfortable to look at. But, oddly sufficient, Cronin relished the alternative. He knew one thing we didn’t, as the Bruins are headed to the Final Four.

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to become the head coach at UCLA,” Cronin stated when he was employed.

“UCLA is a very special place with a strong tradition of excellence. To be able to join such a world-class institution is truly a privilege, and I can’t wait to get started in Westwood.”

In just two seasons, Cronin has turned UCLA again into what it as soon as was, as the No. 11 Bruins defeated No. 1 Michigan, 51-49, to advance to the tourney’s closing weekend for the nineteenth time. The Bruins joined 2011 VCU as the solely groups to go from the First Four to the Final Four. 2018 Loyola, 2006 George Mason, and 1986 LSU be a part of VCU and UCLA as the solely No. 11 seeds to have reached the plateau. And with wins over No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 Michigan, UCLA and ‘86 LSU are the only No. 11 seeds in tournament history to knock off No. 1 and No. 2 seeds on their journeys.

“Players win games, and I want to thank these kids for beveling in me,” Cronin said after the win. “I want to thank everybody that’s ever performed for me. I wouldn’t be right here in the event that they didn’t imagine in me and let me coach them. These guys get all the credit score, although. Unbelievable coronary heart and toughness. Nobody picked us and no person believed in us. But, that’s how we prefer it.”

Before Cronin confirmed up in Los Angeles, the Bruins hadn’t skilled a lot postseason success since the Ben Howland period, by which they performed in three consecutive Final Fours between 2006-2008. After that, there have been just a few first- and second-round exits and two years by which they didn’t qualify for the tourney.

Steve Alford was up subsequent. And whereas issues seemed promising at first, his tenure was feast or famine. In his six seasons at UCLA, the Bruins both made it to the Sweet 16 or missed the event.

But now, Cronin and his group have an opportunity to create their very own narrative. After dropping 4 straight coming into the event, it was a shock to some that they even certified. However, wins over No. 11 Michigan State, No. 6 BYU, and No. 14 Abilene Christian together with Alabama and Michigan have UCLA poised to tug off their greatest upset but, as they’ll face No. 1 general seed Gonzaga on Saturday, as the Bulldogs seemed to maintain a successful streak alive that started in February 2020.

“Obviously, we know our next assignment is tough, but (our) resiliency is unbelievable.”

Less than two weeks in the past, UCLA was the underdog on Day One of the NCAA event. Eighteen days later, they might be enjoying for an opportunity to win a nationwide championship.

(March) Madness.

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