Mike Montgomery may not spend a lot of time on Xs and Os between now and Saturday’s Pac-12 regular-season finale against Colorado.
“We keep practicing, keep trying to show them the things we need to do,” Montgomery said late Wednesday night after the Bears’ 63-59 loss to Utah, their fourth defeat in five games. “I’m not even sure that’s going to make any difference.”
He’s more concerned with the psychological than the physical.
“Emotionally, we’re really spent,” he said. “We’re having a hard time emotionally sticking with this thing right now.”
The Bears, who began Pac-12 play 5-0, have lost eight of 12 since. Their offense is struggling. A top-four finish in the conference and first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament is in jeopardy. On even less solid ground are their chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.
The players know what’s at stake and the pressure is consuming them.
“Nobody likes to lose,” senior forward Richard Solomon said.
Montgomery knows he needs to reboot the team’s confidence.
“We’ve got to find a way to have fun, make this where everything that happens doesn’t weigh so heavily on everybody,” he said.
Tyrone Wallace said Montgomery’s post-game talk never dealt with defending the screen-and-roll or getting better ball movement.
“I don’t think he mentioned one thing about basketball after the game,” Wallace said. “He said we’ve got to have more enthusiasm. Too many guys look unhappy. We’ve got to dig deep to find the positive things.”
When it was suggested he treat his players to ice cream at practice to coax some smiles, Montgomery didn’t immediately dismiss the idea.
“We’ve just got to find a way to make it fun. I don’t know what else,” he said. “Losing’s certainly no fun. We’ve struggled to get everybody thinking positively.”