April 19, 2001
Press Conference Audio Clips:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino has filled his staff with a blend of youth and experience, including:
- Associate Coach Mick Cronin, who served as an assistant at Cincinnati for the past five years and was the Bearcats' recruiting coordinator,
- Assistant Coach Vince Taylor, an assistant at Louisville for the past three years and a former standout at Duke,
- Assistant Coach Kevin Willard, a coaching associate for the past four seasons with the Boston Celtics,
- Administrative Assistant Scott Davenport, a former assistant coach for five years at Louisville, and
- Executive Assistant Jeff Noyes, a basketball operations assistant for the past three years with the Boston Celtics.
"I very excited about this staff," said Pitino. "I took my time in assembling it, spoke with many people and had outstanding candidates. I think this is one of the premier staffs in the country. Now it's our job to develop one of the premier programs by getting the premier players."
Cronin has been an assistant to Bob Huggins on the Cincinnati coaching staff for the past five years and is a noted recruiter and game strategist.
"I needed someone who has a lot of experience in the wars of recruiting and the wars on the basketball court in our associate position," said Pitino. "Mick was highly recommended. He's got the expertise with our league, expertise as a teacher and expertise as a recruiter. He's done it the old-fashioned way in working up through the high school ranks, working in a basketball family. He's a great addition to our staff."
As the Bearcats' recruiting coordinator, Cronin helped Cincinnati attract a top-five rated recruiting class in two of the past three seasons and another which was ranked in the top 10. Prior to this season, he was named the nation's best recruiter as an assistant coach by The Sporting News.
Cronin joined the coaching staff in 1997-98. He originally came to UC as the team's video coordinator in 1996-97. In that role, he was responsible for securing tapes of the Bearcats' opponents and arranging for the tape coverage of Cincinnati's games and practices.
He also attained experience in breaking down game footage and preparing preliminary scouting reports.
Though only 29, Cronin has already accumulated a wealth of coaching experience. While completing his undergraduate degree at UC, he served as assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach at Cincinnati's Woodward High.
Cronin compiled a sparkling 57-3 record in three seasons as JV coach, while as a varsity aide, he helped the school claim three city championships.
While at Woodward, Cronin helped develop six players who went on to play Division I college basketball, including former Louisville swingman Eric Johnson and former Cincinnati guard Damon Flint.
In the spring of 1996, Cronin coached the East team in the Magic Johnson Roundball Classic. He was director of the 1994 Pittsburgh high school Roundball Classic national all-star game.
Cronin has coached and served on the selection committee for the ABCD camp. He has also spent four summers on the staff of the Five-Star Teaching Camp.
A native of Cincinnati, Cronin earned all-city honors in basketball at LaSalle High. He led the city in assists and was second in 3-point field goal shooting percentage during the 1989-90 season. A knee injury ended his promising playing career.
Mick is the second generation of the Cronin family in the coaching ranks. His father, Harold "Hep" Cronin, was a highly-successful high school basketball coach in the Greater Cincinnati area, compiling over 400 victories.
Cronin earned a bachelor's degree in history at Cincinnati in 1996. He is single.
A Kentucky native, Taylor has been on the Louisville staff for the past three seasons as an assistant coach, aiding the Cardinals' recruiting efforts and on-court game preparation.
"Vince was highly recommended to me," said Pitino. "This is the first time that I've retained anyone from the previous staff, primarily because I've traveled with the people I've worked with. I coached Vince as a basketball camper. He's on the road recruiting right now and we're excited to have him on our staff."
Taylor, 40, who played basketball at Tates Creek High School in Lexington, spent a year as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh and a brief stint in a similar position at Wyoming before joining the Louisville staff.
Prior to his coaching experience at Pittsburgh, Taylor spent the previous 13 seasons playing professional basketball in Europe, including the last two as a player/assistant coach in the Belgium professional league.
A standout guard under head coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Foster at Duke, Taylor earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference and honorable mention All-America honors as a senior after averaging an ACC-leading 20.3 points a game. He is No. 20 among Duke career scorers with 1,455 points and once held the school record by playing in 120 consecutive games.
During Taylor's collegiate career, the Blue Devils won the 1979 ACC regular-season championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice (1979 and 1980) and National Invitational Tournament once (1981).
A 1982 graduate of Duke with a bachelor's degree in economics, Taylor was named to the President's List at Duke his senior year. That honor is awarded to only five percent of the student body, and is based on contributions to the university and academic achievements.
Taylor, who prides himself on helping to develop perimeter players, was selected by the New York Knicks in the second round of the 1982 NBA Draft (34th pick overall). He spent the 1982-83 season with the Knicks before joining the Indiana Pacers in 1983-84. Taylor's European basketball career began in 1984, initially playing in Italy (1984-86) and later in France (1986-92) and Belgium (1992-97).
Taylor, who has international recruiting ties, prepped at Tates Creek High School, where he was a McDonald's high school All-American as a senior in 1978 while averaging 29.3 points and 11 rebounds.
His sister Janet has U of L ties, earning her undergraduate and medical degrees from U of L, and is married to Stu Jackson, senior vice president of the NBA.
A native of Lexington, Taylor and his wife Nathalie have two children: Brendan and Maya.
Willard served as a coaching associate on Pitino's staff with the Celtics for the past four years.
"Kevin reminds me a lot of a young Billy Donovan (Florida's head coach)," said Pitino. "He's been with me at the Celtics for the past four years as a chief scout and has had a major job in working with professional athletes."
Willard's duties with the Celtics included game and practice preparation, scouting and assisting the coaching staff in all basketball matters.
Willard, 26, was a four-year collegiate basketball point guard, playing his last three years at Pittsburgh. He earned Big East All-Academic honors while appearing in 75 games for the Panthers.
He played his freshman season at Western Kentucky, where he played in 27 of 31 games for the Hilltoppers and sank over 40 percent of his three-point goals.
Willard hails from Bowling Green, Ky., where he was a standout guard for Bowling Green High School. He earned second team all-state honors as a senior and helped his team to a combined 76-15 record in his final three prep seasons.
He played in college for his father Ralph Willard, a former Pitino assistant and the current head coach at Holy Cross.
He is married to the former Julie Wagner.
Davenport, who won a state championship as a high school coach, served as an assistant coach for five seasons on the Louisville staff.
Davenport's new duties will include on-campus recruiting functions, game day activities, some off-the court responsibilities with student-athletes and working closely with Pitino.
"Scott will work hand-in-hand with me on every basketball, academics and community function with our program," said Pitino. "We're excited to have him here in a role that I think he will be very good at."
Prior to joining the Cardinals' coaching staff, Davenport compiled an impressive 258-69 record (.789 winning percentage) in 10 seasons at Ballard High School, including a 47-3 mark over district opponents. His 1988 team won the Kentucky State Championship with a 36-3 record and his 1987 squad reached the state finals.
Davenport, 45, was one of 12 coaches chosen from across the nation to coach at the Nike All-America Camp in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Forty-one of his 55 seniors at Ballard played collegiate basketball.
Davenport coached former U of L guard DeJuan Wheat, the Cardinals' No. 2 career scorer, at the prep level as well as New York Knicks guard Allan Houston, Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 1988. He taught learning disabled students at Ballard in addition to his coaching responsibilities.
After earning a degree in psychology from U of L in 1978, Davenport served as an assistant coach at Ahrens (1978-80) and Ballard (1980-83) High Schools.
He was a graduate assistant coach at U of L for two seasons (1983-85) before spending one year as an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University (1985-86) under Mike Pollio, currently Associate Athletic Director at U of L (current Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith was also an assistant on that staff). He earned a masters in education from U of L in 1985.
Davenport has been associated with the Cardinal Summer Basketball Camps for the past 22 years, serving as director or assistant director over the last 15 years.
A Louisville native, Davenport is married to the former Sharon Smith. They have two sons: Russell and Douglas.
Noyes will serve as executive assistant to Pitino, coordinating the basketball office and arranging Pitino's personal schedule.
"Jeff is an outstanding person who worked with me at the Celtics with my planning, budgets, salary cap and in other duties I had as president," said Pitino. "He'll be handling my personal schedule and we're excited to have him on our staff."
Noyes, 25, earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Curry College (Milton, Mass.) in 1997. During his senior year there, he worked as an intern in the Celtics' media relations office.
He joined the operations staff of the Celtics full-time in 1998 and one year later began working directly with Pitino, then the head coach and general manager of the Celtics.
Originally from Barre, Vermont, Noyes played soccer, lacrosse and ran track at Spalding High S
He is engaged to Courtney Sullivan of Key Biscayne, Fla.