COLUMBIA — Sometimes college basketball coaches have to act more like psychologists, or even parents.
Mike Anderson's Missouri Tigers often require some mental management while navigating a long season full of ups and downs. This past week brought the Tigers to each end of the emotional spectrum. The team suffered a tough road loss to Kansas State and responded with an 89-72 win over Baylor on Saturday.
"It's almost like it's instinctive. It's kind of like a daddy that knows his kids and I got a feel for them," Anderson said about how he motivates seniors Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll, who combined for 55 points against Baylor. "Sometimes you've got to almost be like a psychologist."
The images of the past week showed the contrasting feelings of dismay and elation that come with playing basketball.
After Missouri's 88-72 loss to Kansas State, senior Matt Lawrence felt so depressed he could hardly raise his head to answer a question.
Just three days later, Missouri players ran into the stands to celebrate an emotional win with fans in the student cheering section. The players let out victorious screams and smacked appreciative high fives with fans.
"They've been supporting us a lot this year." Lyons said. "We just had to show them that we were proud of them and we appreciate them coming."
But there isn't much time to celebrate. The Tigers have just three more days to prepare for an important trip to Texas. The Tigers and Longhorns are, effectively, tied for third place in the Big 12.
"I'm letting it (beating Baylor) go real quick," Lyons said. "This is a good game, but we really want that Texas one. We've got to show and prove ourselves that we can do it on the road."
Anderson has a rule to keep players from dwelling too long on the emotional high of a win or the devastation of a loss. Players have to forget about games at midnight.
Once the clock strikes 12, it's time to regain focus and move forward.
"You've just got to have short-term memory loss," said guard J.T. Tiller, who had a career-high eight assists against Baylor.
The Tigers have suffered the consequences of feeling too happy with themselves after strings of wins this season. Missouri played poorly early in games against Nebraska and Kansas State, both of which came after four-game winning streaks.
"Sometimes we get comfortable, and we win a few games in a row. We think we can go in and beat anybody, and we lose the mentality of what we're supposed to do on the defensive side," Lyons said. "The loss just wakes us up like we can't do that no more."
The Tigers have done a better job this season of rebounding after losses. Missouri has convincingly won all four games this season following losses.
Anderson said his players practice better after losses, especially the two days after losing to Kansas State. He said those practices were the difference in the Baylor game.
"After Wednesday's debacle, if you want to call it that, we just had to come back, practice hard for the next two days and come in with a new mindset," Tiller said.
Anderson admits that in modern coaching, mindset can be important.