Tom'sTake: getting the mind right

February 25th 2013

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Dodgeball.  Who would have guessed a game of dodgeball was the key to getting Kentucky’s season back on track.  John Calipari gets the most praise for his recruiting prowess but he doesn’t get enough kudos for his ability to manage the psychological component of his leadership.  He and his staff correctly read their young team in its need for a pressure release and judging from their sincere comments on the impact of the dodgeball game, it’s clear that the coaches gave them what they needed.

I saw practice Tuesday (before the dodgeball idea) and again on Friday and the latter one was as good as the former was bad.  It was a team that felt good about itself again and you saw that renewed confidence on the court in the wins over Vandy and Missouri that put the Wildcats back on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.  If you’ve ever played any sport, you realize how important your own personal mindset is to your success and Calipari was right to see that getting that part of the equation right was the most important thing for this team.

X-and-O changes were made, too, in both the offensive and defensive approaches without Nerlens Noel.  This team has some flaws defensively that are hard, if not impossible to fix so you can try to disguise them but ultimately, UK needed to find a way to improve on offense if it was going to regress on defense (post-Noel).  And opening up the court looks like the ticket to do that.  Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow and even Alex Poythress found new lanes to attack the rim and suddenly Kentucky had the ability to create some of the mismatches that other teams were finding on UK’s defensive end of the court.

I think going 2-2 in the final four games might be enough to get UK into the NCAA Tourney field--but after what I saw last week, I think they’re going to do better than 2-2.


Steve Landram said...

The play by WCS where he completly laid out for a steal was the most amazing play I have ever seen by a player 7 ' tall. That play and others made at different times by the entire team reflect a positive mind set.

posted at 7:18 AM on Feb 26th 2013

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