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Projecting what the Mick Cronin era will look like at UCLA

Mick Cronin inherits a program that has won a college basketball-best 11 national titles. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mick Cronin is the 10th (full-time) head coach employed by UCLA since John Wooden occupied that position from 1948 to 1975. The new coach's nine post-Wooden predecessors combined to win 70 percent of their games while reaching six Final Fours and winning one national title.

At any ordinary program, that would constitute an exemplary track record over the past 45 years. Then again, UCLA is no ordinary program.

In Westwood, a bit like at Indiana, there's a presumption of preeminence. As with the Hoosiers, this presumption with regard to the Bruins is a product of the 20th century that, seemingly, has remained unfulfilled in the 21st.

Even Ben Howland's run of three consecutive Final Fours from 2006 to 2008 proved to be but a preamble to the coach's firing in 2013. UCLA hasn't been to a national semifinal (or, for that matter, an Elite Eight) since Howland, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love took the Bruins there 11 years ago.

Now Cronin has inherited these lofty expectations. How will the new coach fare in Westwood?


Cronin in 2019 looks a bit like Howland did when he arrived

When Howland was hired in 2003 to succeed Steve Lavin, the former Pitt head coach was a few weeks shy of his 46th birthday. Howland was coming off of back-to-back runs to the Sweet 16, a level of tournament success befitting a Panthers team that was 57-11 (and 26-6 in Big East play) over the course of those two seasons.