Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin made sure his team understood that losing a 22-point lead to Nevada in the round of 32 last March is something they will move on from — fast.

 

And they have. As they always do.

“I told them if this is the worst thing in your life, then you’re going to live a great life,’’ Cronin said of the loss to the Wolf Pack when the No. 2 seed Bearcats were bounced out of the tournament. “The sun will come up and we will move on. (Houston coach) Kelvin Sampson and us both had a great season but had horrible endings (Houston lost to Michigan at the buzzer in the round of 32 on a Jordan Poole 3-point shot). It’s not going to be the last in sports. Japan just took one in the World Cup to Belgium. It happens and you move on.’’

The Bearcats (ranked probably too low in my latest Power 36 at No. 35) are still going to be one of the teams to beat in the American Athletic Conference next season and are getting a jump start on that campaign with 10 practices and a foreign trip to Montreal and Ottawa beginning Aug. 4.

Cincinnati is one of those programs that consistently has the “next-man up” mentality and actually practices it.

“We’re a program that builds from within,’’ Cronin said. “We usually have guys on our team that have been groomed to take over. We don’t have the turnover plague that exists in college basketball. We work hard to avoid that. We haven’t taken a fifth-year guy. We haven’t needed to do that. We believe in continuity. It works for us.’’

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There seems to be someone else to step into the role as go-to player when others leave either once their eligibility is exhausted like Gary Clark and Kyle Washington or choose to depart early through the NBA draft like Jacob Evans.

Enter Jarron Cumberland, who Cronin is convinced will be either the preseason player of the year in the AAC or possibly the winner of the award by season’s end.

Add in veterans Cane Broome and Justin Jenifer on the perimeter and there is a core group of Bearcats that can lead this team once again to an NCAA tournament berth — their ninth in a row if it happens in 2019.

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