Mick Cronin seems more psychologist than basketball coach this week as UC readies for the American Athletic Conference tournament.
The Bearcats will open AAC play with a Friday afternoon game against UConn, but coach is more concerned about his team than his opponent.
"Big believer in mental state," said Cronin of his players. "You've got to get them where they're in the right frame of mind. They're happy, they're excited, they're looking forward to staying alive and winning tournaments. If you beat them down, some guys look for the exits."
Most experts believe the Bearcats are on the good side of the NCAA tournament bubble, but a good showing at the conference tournament would likely clinch UC's spot in the big dance.
"My message to our team is not talking or thinking about the NCAA tournament," added Cronin. "Our goal is let's go win the conference tournament - it's a memory we can have forever. (For) Those guys to cut down nets, dance around - that's got to be our goal."
Newly-named first team all conference point guard Troy Caupain said the focus is on the next game, not the bigger picture.
"The year hasn't been how we hyped it up to be. We missed out on getting the first set of rings in the regular season. So, now it's an opportunity to accomplish another one of our goals."
It'll be the third time UC and UConn have met this season. The Bearcats have won the first two meetings.
"Bloodbath," quipped Cronin. "Next question."
The Bearcats play at approximately 2:30 on Friday in Orlando.