CINCINNATI (AP) Bearcats coach Mick Cronin was cleared to resume coaching on Monday after missing most of the season because of a problem with a blood vessel in the back of his brain.
The 43-year-old wasn't permitted to coach games or practices after the problem was detected in December. Assistant Larry Davis took over and led the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Kentucky in their second game.
Cronin had more tests recently that found the problem has been resolved. The problem - known as arterial dissection - was treated with medication. Cronin will have no restrictions as a coach.
''What happened to me is a very low-percentage thing,'' Cronin said. ''It's not the result of the coach yelling. And I'm cleared. I say that because my artery is healed. I'm healthy.''
Cronin came down with the flu in December and started having headaches that didn't go away. Tests found the abnormality. Davis took over for a 68-47 loss to VCU on Dec. 20, shortly after the team learned that Cronin would be out for the season.
The Bearcats went 23-11 overall, including 13-5 in the American Athletic Conference. They beat Purdue 66-65 in overtime in their opening game at the NCAA Tournament, then lost to Kentucky 64-51, staying with the unbeaten Wildcats for most of the game.
''I'm really proud of the team and what they accomplished while I was going through what I was going through,'' Cronin said. ''I think it's a huge statement about where our program is at and where it's poised to go in the future that we were able to survive the head coach not being able to coach the team, really, in the middle of the season.''
Cronin had tests last week that indicated the blood vessel had healed. He spoke with his doctor on Monday morning before a news conference announcing his return to full duties.
He had to keep his blood pressure down while the problem was treated, which meant no coaching during practice or games. He watched their games from home, which was the most difficult part.
''It was easy when we won, hard when we lost,'' Cronin said. ''Just the feeling of inadequacy that you can't help - that's by far the hardest part. That's your team and you're not there with them.''
Cronin's doctors had told him there was a good chance the problem would be healed by March. He appreciates his job a little more after being limited for the last three months.
''It's a life-changing experience,'' he said. ''To be honest, you're just more heightened to everything around you, to smelling the roses or smelling the coffee, your appreciation of losing a game and being miserable.
''As bad as that sounds, part of me just wanted to be there and be miserable with my staff. I want to be miserable with them. I want to have my stomach ache again because I can't eat because I'm miserable and my team's struggling.''
The Bearcats return 10 of their top 12 players next season, including all five starters.
Cronin said doctors are unsure why he developed the problem, but they don't think it will return. He'll get check-ups periodically to make sure the blood vessel is fine.
''Fortunately now, it's over for me,'' Cronin said. ''It's a random thing, a low-percentage thing.''
Two schools have contacted Davis about open head coaching jobs, impressed with how he handled the team during Cronin's absence.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay