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Cronin introduced as coach at Cincinnati

CINCINNATI -- Mick Cronin returned to the University of
Cincinnati on Friday to take charge of a basketball program that
just finished a tumultuous season.

"I'm here to win," Cronin pledged. "I'm here because I
believe we can win the national championship. It is important that
I convey that to our fans."

Cronin, who coached Murray State the last three seasons, is a
former top assistant to Bob Huggins, ousted as Bearcats head coach
before the season.

"I'm still floating," Cronin said at a news conference. "This
is truly a dream come true."

"I know it's not going to be easy," Cronin added.

Huggins' departure led to a season of uncertainty at Cincinnati.

Interim coach Andy Kennedy gained fan support by leading a team
that had to overcome injuries and player departures to a 21-13
season. The Bearcats were knocked out of the NIT by South Carolina
on Thursday night, the same day Huggins became coach at Kansas
State.

Kennedy was introduced as the new coach of Mississippi on
Friday.

Cronin, an all-city player at La Salle High School, coached at
Woodward High School while getting his undergraduate degree at
Cincinnati. He joined Huggins' staff in 1997, and soon became his
head recruiter.

When Cronin left to join Rick Pitino's staff at Louisville in
2001-02, Kennedy took his place at Huggins' side.

Cronin went 69-23 at Murray State and twice earned a spot in the
NCAA Tournament.

Cincinnati athletic director Mike Thomas said he recommended
Cronin to president Nancy Zimpher on Wednesday, two days after
telling Kennedy he would not get the job.

"I said I was going to look at the total quality of the work,"
Thomas said. "I felt Mick was the best fit for the job."

Cronin said he wanted his players to graduate and develop as
good citizens. Zimpher has said improving the school's image is a
top priority.

"We couldn't be happier to have you here," Zimpher told
Cronin.

Cronin said he has followed the Bearcats this season and praised
Kennedy and the team for persevering.

"They had to play in a time of uncertainty, and made us
proud," he said.