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Mick Cronin jumps right into his work as UCLA basketball coach

Mick Cronin jumps right into his work as UCLA basketball coach
Mick Cronin, right, is introduced as UCLA’s basketball coach by athletic director Dan Guerrero on April 10. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Some UCLA fans woke up Thursday to the sound of their new basketball coach’s voice.

Mick Cronin introduced himself to donors and season ticket-holders through a robocall, asking them to join the Bruins for games next season at Pauley Pavilion.

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“Together,” Cronin said on the call, “we are going to make this happen.”

After weeks of waiting to learn if he would get the job he’s long coveted, Cronin has sprung into action like a tiger unleashed from captivity. He’s already met with his players, conducted interviews and reached out to the team’s incoming freshmen.

Cronin had a 35-minute phone conversation with Santa Margarita High forward Jake Kyman, according to Coley Kyman, Jake’s father.

“Jake was really excited,” his father said. “Jake really enjoyed the call and the conversation.”

Cronin was also free to contact prospective recruits as of noon Thursday after an NCAA-mandated dead period ended. The Bruins don’t currently have any additional scholarships to offer for next season, but that could change if other players leave for the NBA draft or transfer. The spring signing period runs from Wednesday to May 15.

Cronin said during his introductory news conference Wednesday that he wanted everybody on the roster to stay and he understood there could be some trepidation among his players about their fit with a new coach.

“Hey, I don’t know about this guy, he may not play me, may not let me shoot enough,” Cronin said, “but you’re gonna know this. He’s honestly honest, OK? I spell love and discipline the same way. And I think, whether it’s being a father, you gotta spend time with people if you love them. And if you spend time with people, you know who they are, they know what you’re about and they know you’re about helping them become better men as a basketball coach. And if you’re doing that, it’s easy to coach, because the kids know you love them.”

Cronin said he told his players that their goal was to become a team that nobody wanted to play because they could never easily be defeated.

“My job is to make sure we do the coachable things,” Cronin said. “You gotta be able to win when you don’t make shots. The truth of it is, if you want to score, you gotta get some layups, which means you gotta score early in the clock, you gotta steal the ball, block shots, get easy baskets, and you gotta rebound, that’s effort-related.”

To win what would be UCLA’s first Pac-12 Conference regular-season championship since coach Ben Howland’s final season in 2012-13, Cronin said, the Bruins must prepare to beat the best team on their schedule, win on the road and defeat top-20 teams.

Cronin wouldn’t say when those things might happen, though true to his first days on the job, he appeared to be in a rush.

“The faster the better,” Cronin said. “You think fans want to win? Try being the coach that doesn’t sleep, that puts in all the work, the coaching staff and the players. We want to win more, I promise you.”

Times staff writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.

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