Introductions weren’t necessary when Mick Cronin made his first hire as UCLA’s basketball coach.
Cronin tabbed longtime assistant Darren Savino as his associate head coach with the Bruins on Thursday, adding a familiar presence who has a reputation as a strong recruiter and savvy tactician.
Savino worked under Cronin for each of the last nine seasons at Cincinnati and for two previous seasons at Murray State. He was Cronin’s associate head coach with the Bearcats last season, when the team made its ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament.
In addition to his stints alongside Cronin, Savino has coached as an assistant at Rutgers, Quinnipiac, New Mexico, East Carolina and St. John’s. He also served one season as an administrative assistant on Seton Hall’s staff.
“Darren and I have been working together for a long time, and he’s a great basketball coach,” Cronin said in a statement. “He is an outstanding leader, he comes from a tremendous basketball background and he is in coaching for all the right reasons. Our players will love him. They will see that not only is he a great coach, but he also cares about them as people. That’s what I am looking for on my coaching staff, and he really embodies that.”
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Savino played alongside current Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley at prep powerhouse St. Anthony High, having been selected the national champions by USA Today during Savino’s senior season in 1989. He later played for the Jersey City College team that advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four in 1992.
Cronin has two more slots to fill on his coaching staff.