Video & Transcript: Cincinnati Talks About Falling to Hawkeyes

March 22, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

Q. Justin, that moment walking off the floor, Coach Cronin grabbed you and Cane and gave you a big hug, looked like. How tough of a moment, I guess how thankful of a moment are you to share that with your head coach?
JUSTIN JENIFER: I’m very appreciative. Everything that I’ve done throughout my four years here is devoted to Coach. Like I said previously, he done stayed on me all four years no matter what it was, if it was off the court or on the court. Like I said, I’m very appreciative of what he has done for me.

Q. Justin, you’re up 18-5. At some point they switch to a zone. How much did that affect you guys?
JUSTIN JENIFER: We knew that coming into the game. We knew that we was going to start off at man and they were going to go to zone. So we were prepared for that. Some shots didn’t go in and that’s part of the game.

Q. Tre, how much did foul trouble on Naz take you out of what you wanted to do in the first half there and the second half as well?
TREVON SCOTT: It affected us a lot. But in my opinion, it was plenty of games where we had to go to different lineups like that and we came out successful. So that’s what’s so frustrating about the loss. We didn’t get it done today like we usually do.

But if Naz, if he would have fought through, played smarter, stayed in, I don’t know the outcome of the game would have been different. But he played hard. He was trying. We just came up short.

Q. Justin, once the three-quarter pressure, half-court pressure kind of picked up, you guys were getting shots much later in the shot clock. Was that a direct result of that pressure or was it something that you were trying to do in the first half?
JUSTIN JENIFER: Well, we was told to attack. When somebody presses you you’re supposed to attack, not lay back. It was like a 50/50. Sometimes we attacked and sometimes we just laid back. And when we laid back it involved turnovers and led to layups. And that was a big piece to the game. And that was a big turn to them getting the lead.

Q. You had such a great year. In some ways an unexpected year from outsiders. To have an early NCAA exit, can you describe what that feels like right now?
TREVON SCOTT: It’s tough. A lot of people doubted us. A lot of people said we probably wouldn’t have got to where we are at today. But we stayed together. We had a great head man right here, Coach Cronin, in front of us, listening.

But it’s tough going out. Every team has goals and this was not part of our goals. But the toughest part of it is losing Justin and Cane. We owe everything this whole season to these guys. I appreciate you for everything.

JUSTIN JENIFER: Love you, bro.

TREVON SCOTT: Love you, too, bro. It’s just frustrating.

JUSTIN JENIFER: I’d say it’s tough. I didn’t picture that we were going to lose this game today. I pictured my senior year still going on. But you know at the end of the day, you know, it happened.

And I couldn’t be more proud of the guys even though that was with me through the whole way. And as long as they believed in me I believed in them and that’s what makes us such a family.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach. You can make a statement.

COACH CRONIN: I would like to congratulate Iowa. I thought that — you know, they were a Top 25 team most of the year. Obviously Fran’s a friend of mine. Whatever happened, happened. He had to miss a few games. That threw them off.

They got a great coach. And I have nothing but tremendous respect for them and their program and the way they do things. So I think it’s important to make sure that I point that out.

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So as far as today’s game, guys, we’re not going to win when we give up 79 points. I don’t remember the last time Cincinnati has won a game where we’ve given up 79. Some of you guys might be able to research it. Now, they’re a great offensive team. Somebody referenced it earlier, in the plus/minus, we’re plus-12 in the 20 minutes Nysier Brooks played.

We didn’t have the depth on the front line, obviously, to deal with their guys on the interior. I thought that was probably the biggest difference in the game, if you’re going to ask me what the difference in the game was.

Second thing is I thought we took some questionable shots that are out of character for us. We played and got into — got the game going at a pace that we couldn’t set our defense enough. And we got a little too concerned with our offense. And whether it was their zone, their pressure or whatever the case may be, we got our mind off of defense.

We gave up a 3 on an out-of-bounds play. We’re first or second in the country in out-of-bounds defense. We usually are every year. We have to be because we’re not running around with lottery picks.

So last thing I would say is you heard these guys talk. So that’s what I’m most proud of. You listen to Justin, I knew who he was four years ago. I’ve done my job — sit here listen him talk like that.

Tre is unbelievable as well. Great kids. We had an unbelievable season. Had a tremendous season. Obviously tough situation to have to play a team that was ranked in the Top 25 in the first round more weeks than we were. And we won our conference championship.

But again I’m just a believer that the tournament’s about winning it anyway. You’ve got to win six to win it. So I would have the same thoughts if we lose game 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

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Q. Did you think your guys didn’t attack that zone enough —
COACH CRONIN: I do not think offense had anything to do with our demise. We shot — I thought we shot too many 3s five, six feet behind the line. We did take some shots that I thought were questionable.

I don’t think it was their zone that caused it. I think it was decisions by us. And, again, it’s a get-it-done world. We talked a lot about not taking the bait on those shots and making sure that we threw one more pass and got them in the closeout and try to beat them off the dribble.

We didn’t do a good enough job on that. But, again, they shot 54 percent for the game, almost 55 percent. So we had some egregious errors defensively. We let some of our offensive — we won games we shot 26 percent from the field at SMU.

So stuff happens on offense. But I thought we let it affect our defensive energy. But we did take some questionable shots.

Q. Other than Brooks being on the bench at the end of the first half, was there anything you saw that helped them close that lead going into halftime?
COACH CRONIN: We weren’t going to shut them out. I think you’ve got to give credit to people. I thought they made a few shots where they drove the paint, stopped, pivoted two or three times and made a tough play.

Obviously you can’t converge too much because they’ve got shooters running around the line. Those are hard plays. They made a few of those — I think, Bohannon’s shot at the end of the half was a great example. Made another one in the second half where he pivoted two or three times. I thought he drug his pivot foot. Of course I’m going to think that; I’m the opposing coach. The film will tell me whether I’m right or not. They’re a great offensive team for a reason. They have been all year.

Q. You win 28 games. You win the conference tournament championship. But you will be judged, and you know this, by what happened today. Do you have any comment on that?
COACH CRONIN: I judge — just so you know — I’m judged by the guys who were sitting up here, that’s who — that’s my concern.

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Q. You talked yesterday about not taking these tournament appearances for granted, and your first appearance being here in Columbus. So as a coach, a coaching staff, where do you go from here after, like you said, another season where you win a conference but an early exit?
COACH CRONIN: Back to work — with a lot of pride, by the way. Back to work with a lot of pride.

Q. You obviously knew that Garza could shoot the ball. Were you surprised they went to him as much as they did, especially when they were down?
COACH CRONIN: Not in the low post, I wasn’t.

Q. Outside?
COACH CRONIN: A couple of the 3s that he made were pretty deep. I mean we talked about he would shoot it — I think he made 19 on the year. So, I mean, we talked about he would shoot it if we didn’t guard him out there.

But his size, obviously, bothered us in the low post. He’s a guy, if he catches it deep — I told our guys he’s like the two big guys for Portland and Denver in the pros; may not jump high, but he can really use his body and hands around the basket and get it in.

Q. Question about the crowd. Obviously playing so close to home, what did you think of it —
COACH CRONIN: We have great fans. Not a surprise at all. Appreciate all of them. Hope everybody gets home safe. They’ve been great all year. I think we were sold out season tickets this year. We have great support in our program.

Q. You talked all week about wanting — about you would love to take big shots above anything else. And then yesterday you talked about watching Iowa hit 3s on film. When they started hitting the second half, was that kind of all those —
COACH CRONIN: We had two minute breakdowns. Those are things you can control. We didn’t control that. So at the end of the day I take responsibility for that.

There were some things that we did — I’m not going to mention names of guys — but we just had breakdowns. We fell asleep on some guys. The thing about our defense is we’re supposed to be in the passing lane. So if you help, the guy has to go backdoor. We don’t give up direct passes out for the 3. So that was the breakdown.

And we fell asleep on that out-of-bounds play, and we fell asleep just to let Jordan Bohannon shoot one in our face. But they put 40 minutes of offensive pressure on your defense. At the end of the day our defense wasn’t good enough today.

Q. Anything you said to Justin and Cane there at the end that you’re willing to share?
COACH CRONIN: I challenged those guys this summer when we started up. And whenever our eight weeks started in the summer, I challenged them that there’s a difference between getting on the bus and getting on the bus to make sure your team wins.

And I don’t think — I learned this from my dad years ago as a high school coach: you’re never going to win with bad seniors. It’s never going to happen. Your seniors have got to be bought in, whether they’re role players, scorers, defenders, whatever, they’ve got to be the guys. And so I put the heat on them and they met the challenge.

I put the heat on them now in the summer because obviously they were just getting on the bus. And their desire to win to make sure that this program did not drop off, that we kept winning games, we did things the right way, all the things I ask veteran guys to do on our team that Gary Clark and Kyle did the year before; they did it all. They did everything I asked of them.

So I just told them I loved them. Obviously they’re not the most talented players in the world. Okay? Cane got recruited by Sacred Heart. Justin is my size. When I’m hugging guys that are almost my size, it tells you. For those guys, they accomplished — what their team accomplished would not have happened if they weren’t totally all in this year. That’s been a trademark of our program, from Justin Jackson and guys like Sean Kilpatrick, back further and further.

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