Sleeves rolled up and collar open, Matthew Mitchell looks ready to go to work.
The minutes are ticking down, and his Kentucky team is racing through warm-ups, but these are unlike any they have been through in the previous weeks.
As a part of a sit-down with the seniors after the Cats' three-game losing streak last month, Mitchell agreed to get more hands-on.
What that has meant for the past two games is Mitchell has forgone his pre-game meditation time so he can put the No. 12 Cats through a serious series of drills.
"He's really engaged," point guard Makayla Epps said of the pre-game Mitchell. "He's out there. He pushes us, wants to see us get a good sweat going, and obviously something about it is working."
Starting Thursday at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Little Rock, Ark., the coach will be a part of every warm-up until the Cats' season ends.
Mitchell's new pre-game ritual started after the now well-documented meeting with seniors Azia Bishop, Bria Goss, Jennifer O'Neill and Jelleah Sidney.
UK staff and seniors reported an especially unfocused group before the Cats' loss at Ole Miss on Feb. 23.
They noted that "the level of focus between the Rebels and the Wildcats was striking," Mitchell reported. "And Ole Miss played like they wanted to win, and we didn't compete very hard."
So Mitchell has instituted a more structured pre-game routine and a more discipline-centered practice to get a well-intentioned but not always well-focused team to prepare better.
"The team needs what he's doing," Epps said of the harsher, more aggressive Mitchell.
Every facet of practice is consequence-based. There are suicide sprints for lack of focus on detail.
"He's a lot more intense, like how he was my freshman year," said O'Neill, who called the meeting at Mitchell's house to spark the turnaround. "He's getting on people more than he has before and he brings energy, and if nobody's talking or anything like that, he's quick to call you out."
It's been a big help for some of the younger players, herself included, Epps said.
"We have some very talented freshmen who can't remain focused for the whole duration of a 90-minute practice," she said. "Even me, I tend to check out after 75 minutes; the last 15 I'm just out there like, 'OK. We've been here all day.' He's doing what a coach needs to do, especially at crunch time, at tournament time."
Things that seem like small changes could make a big difference at tournament time, when the Cats are going to have to come out of the No. 6 seed to win it, which is unlikely, but not impossible.
In 2004, Vanderbilt became the only team to win the tournament from the No. 6 seed since the league broke away from divisions and went to straight seeds in 1986.
For UK, it requires four wins in four days and razor-sharp focus, which Mitchell is happy to help generate, starting in practices and the new pre-game rituals.
"We're talented enough that when we play extremely hard and we're ultra competitive, we're talented enough to win," he said. "We're also talented enough that if we don't compete, if we're not ultra competitive and we don't play extremely hard, we can lose to anybody."
The post-season starts Thursday night against Vanderbilt.
And while the Cats are young, they have some experience advancing in this tournament, getting to the semifinals in seven of the past nine seasons, including five in a row.
Kentucky has advanced to the SEC Tournament title game four of the past five seasons, including the last two, and come up empty.
This year, no team in the field looks like a lock. No. 2 seed Tennessee is still learning to play without star senior Isabelle Harrison, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament two weeks ago.
Kentucky showed Sunday at Memorial Coliseum that top-seeded South Carolina is beatable, an outcome that ESPN analyst Kara Lawson called "the upset of the conference season."
What Kentucky showed with that victory is that the tournament trophy is very much up for grabs.
"It's open for anyone to win, from the top team to the bottom team," O'Neill said.
And Kentucky, which owns four wins over top 11 teams, has proved to itself and maybe some naysayers that it should be in the title talk.
"A lot of people wrote us off after those three losses," Epps said. "But we could be that sleeper team."