Managing the mental state of a team is one of the biggest challenges that coaches face. X's and O's give the players the how to do it part of the game and talent affords the ability, but motivation is often the key to implementation. This group of Wildcats is getting pretty good at running a game plan and the inherent in game adjustments that are always necessary. It is the motivational or psychological part of the game that likely will determine if they end up winning it all.
Coach Calipari is a master motivator, perhaps one of the best the game has seen since John Wooden. This Friday's match up with the Hoosiers presents him with a unique challenge. He may actually have to demotivate his team to some extent. IU presents a reverse trap game as I see it. Coach Cal does not need to open his mouth to get this team up for the game. The lingering hurt of the earlier loss plus the constant replaying of the shot has done that job for him. The danger is that the team will expend too much emotion on the IU game and, should they win, come out flat for the next game. We see this every time an SEC team beats us.
Coach Cal is going to have to convince his young warriors that this game is no more than another step towards the only goal, a national championship. A hard fought physical battle will not take the bounce out of young legs in the next game 48 hours later. Physically they will be okay. They just cannot afford to play all of their emotional cards on the seductive nature of revenge.