‘He knows what it takes:’ Former player defends UC head basketball coach John Brannen

A slew of transfers has left the cupboard bare for UC basketball ahead of Brannen’s third and pivotal season.

‘He knows what it takes:’ Former player defends UC head basketball coach John Brannen
UC head basketball coach (Source: wxix)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - It’s been an unforgettable — and at once very forgettable — week for the University of Cincinnati basketball program with six players leaving the team and entering the NCAA transfer portal.

Second-year head coach John Brannen is now facing what will be a major overhaul of his roster just days after the Bearcats lost to Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

On Thursday night, a former player spoke anonymously to FOX19 NOW in defense of Brannen as a coach.

“Coach Brannen is going to push you,” the player said. “He’s going to put you in uncomfortable situations in practice in terms of basketball, not socially. That’s how you get better. He’s going to demand it out of you.”

Brannen was named the head coach at UC in 2019 after he took Northern Kentucky University to the NCAA tournament in two of his final three seasons with the Norse. In his first season with UC, the Bearcats earned a share of the regular-season conference title before the season was shut down as a result of COVID-19. This season, UC won nine of its final 13 games after a slow start to make the conference tournament title game.

“His resumé speaks for itself,” the player said. “He knows basketball and knows what it takes. He’s had success in the Horizon League and the American.”

FOX19 NOW has confirmed that Moeller product and sophomore guard Jeremiah Davenport is among the few who are committed to staying with the UC program right now. Davenport was the second-leading scorer on the team this season with his 11.7 points per game.

“It’s not easy,” said the former player. “I tell people that all the time. Playing for Coach Brannen is not easy. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. He pushed me to limits that I didn’t know I had. That made me the player I was. I guess I embraced that more than others do.

“Just like every offensive play style isn’t for certain people, coaching styles aren’t always for certain people.”

FOX19 NOW has reached out to Brannen and UC athletics director John Cunningham for comment. Both have declined.

FOX19 NOW has also reached out to several others involved for the other side of the story but hasn’t received any responses yet.

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