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Pat Cavanaugh, Pitt Basketball

March 15, 2012
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Pat Cavanaugh:

First, can you let readers know about Crons – how the idea got started and how the business has grown over the past few years?

The Crons Brand is a mentality performance brand that focuses on the mentality part of performance. Crons stands for “Come Ready or Never Start” and it’s about outworking the competition, proving people wrong, practice and preparation.

We have four divisions of the brand: Team Sports, Retail, Nutritional Products and our Goal Setting programs.

What lessons and experiences as a player helped influence the way you approach your business?

Most importantly, defining roles of each person on the team and making sure everyone knows how each role contributes to the success of the team. Dealing with the ups and downs of sports clearly has allowed me the experience to be more even keeled through the success and adversity opportunities in the business world. 

You received scholarships to play for mid-major colleges to play for them, but turned them all down to play for Pitt as a walk-on. What drove that decision and were you at all concerned about it not working out?

I was motivated to play against the best and to strive toward my ultimate athletic goal of playing professional sports. I felt and was confident that if I had the opportunity at Pitt, I would be able to hold my own and be successful.

It proved to be the right decision for me. Pitt’s a great institution with a strong athletic heritage.

You were named team captain for two straight years. How was the decision made to do so and what do you think drove that decision?

Team captains were selected by the players which was even more rewarding. Players don’t need coaches or anyone else to know who they can count on to come through especially in crunch time…players know that on every team.

Who were some of the biggest characters on those Pitt teams you played for and what made them so? Any examples?

There were many. Jerome Lane was probably the most athletic guy I played with. He once blocked Brian Shorter’s shot and Brian against the backboard in a scrimmage one summer. It was unbelievable…not as much as Jerome breaking the backboard but it has always stuck with me.

Demetreus Gore, Curtis Aiken, Charles Smith, they all are great guys…characters but great guys. I always said that Charles Smith is so tight with his money I think he still has his First Communion money.

Who helped you most as a player – both on and off the court?

My Dad – he was outstanding in identifying areas to improve and then developing drills to make those strengths. His mental insight was invaluable with my time at Pitt.

Both of those Pitt teams you captained were top 10 teams. What made those teams so special?

Each year I was at Pitt was special. My freshman year Pitt had not won big in a while so it was the year the expectations met the results in terms of wins and losses…and from that point we developed such a high standard for Pitt Basketball it really helped take the program to the next level.

Despite the high rankings – the team did struggled in the NCAA Tournament to realize the expectations some had for it. What do you think was behind those struggles?

At the end of the day, we did not take care of the little things and in tournament time, those things will eventually catch up with you.

So many times you see in the tournament, talent doesn’t always win but who executes better.

Do you see your squads as having laid the foundation for the success Pitt has had since? How so?

Well, there were numerous previous Pitt teams who had won 20+ games over the years. I always felt a sense of responsibility to get Pitt back to its best years and then take it to a new level. I think all the guys on the teams I played with were so competitive they hated to lose and that helped carry us for the most part to many more wins than losses. 

Tell us about your experiences in professional basketball. Who did you try out with and what were the takeaways from your experience with NBA teams? 

After Pitt, Doug Moe with the Nuggets gave me an opportunity to workout as a free agent. Jerome Lane helped get that set-up because he believed I could play and he really went to bat for me with the coaches. I’ll always be thankful for Jerome for that.

Then, I went to Calgary in the world league for a spring. After that, the 76er’s picked me up to play with them in the NBA summer league and I played a game against the Timberwolves and then the Orlando Magic gave me a chance to join their team during pre-camp workouts when Brian Hill was the coach.

Again, Scott Skiles was another guy who went to the coaches for me but they ended up going with a guard who had been in the league. Although, I had a handful of offers to play overseas, I turned them down.

What do you make of the job Dixon has done as coach – and what do you think have been the causes of the struggles this season?

I said from the beginning when people weren’t sure of Jamie I had a good feeling about him and he’s done a remarkable job…not just int wins and losses but in his approach to the program, players and the university. He’s a model coach and even though I joke he took Orlando Antigua from me, I still like him.

I haven’t seen enough of the team to really comment on this year’s challenges but I’m confident Jamie will get it turned around next season.

What are your best memories of your time at Pitt, and why?

One of my favorite memories is winning our first Big East Tournament game my freshman year…it helped open up the door to set higher expectations in New York. I always look back and smile my sophomore year going into Syracuse the last game of the season for winner take all where we won the Big East Championship in front of 32,000+ people. It was a great team effort. 

Any last thoughts for readers?

Look for our Crons uniforms on UNC-Asheville as they play at 3:10 PM Thursday vs. Syracuse.

 

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