Cal Women's Basketball: Whether to Talk About the NCAA Tournament or Not

Sometimes coaches feel discussions about the postseason takes away focus for the task at hand

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb was not sure whether to talk about the elephant in the room with her players. The five-game losing streak heading into Friday's home game against Arizona State had put the Bears in jeopardy of not making the NCAA Tournament, a situation that had seemed impossible when the Bears were 9-0 and ranked in the top 15 in the country.

So should she brief the team on the urgency of the situation, driving home the facit that Cal, then 14-11 overall and 5-9 in the Pac-12, desperately needed some big wins to get into the NCAA Tourmanent entering Friday's home game against No. 17 Arizona State? Or would such a discussion mitigate some of the laser focus the team needed for the task at hand.

Coaches typically shy away from presenting big-picture scenarios to players, instead preaching the trite "one game at a time" mantra to keep the attention on one game and one opponent. But the NCAA Tournament situation was so apparent that Gottlieb used a halfway measure, alluding to the Bears' NCAA Tournament situation without focusing on it.

The carrot of an NCAA Tournament berth can be a motivating factor, but not if it erodes some of the focus needed to beat the next opponent. Presumably Gottlieb struck the right balance because the Bears came up with a 69-60 win over No. 17-ranked Arizona State that significantly helped the Bears' chances of landing an NCAA Tournament berth.