Stacked. If there's a single word to describe the 2018 Culligan City of Palms Classic field, that's the one. The 26-team tournament features seven of the USA Today Super 25 and 11 of the MaxPreps preseason top 100. Three of the top five teams on each list will grace the court at Suncoast Credit Union Arena.

Culligan City of Palms Director of Officiating Kevin Hetherington is back with more insight on the game through the eyes of a referee. In October, he spoke about the relationship between coaches and referees and the way officials prepare for the season. This month, he helps us examine the mindset of the referee as well as their physical training.

Q.  Last time, you touched on the misconceptions that some coaches have about the mentality of referees. Can you elaborate on that?

A. I believe that coaches, and everybody else, they have a completely different view of what we think about. We don't really think about the things that you all think we think about. We don't care who wins. Most people, at some point in those basketball games, care who wins. The coaches and the teams, they certainly care who wins. You'll have biased fans and non-biased fans, but even the non-biased fans ultimately pick who they kind of would like to see win, whether it's the underdog or whoever.
But we don't think about that kind of stuff. As referees, that doesn't occupy any of our mental capacity. We don't care about that. We don't care who wins. We care about getting plays right and being consistent.

Q. Switching gears from the mind to the body: What sort of training do referees do to get ready for the season? Is there anything you recommend to the officials who work the tournament?

A.   Most referees are fairly athletic. And certainly the ones that we use in the City of Palms, they're all pretty good athletes. They do stuff. A lot of them are gym rats. They either play basketball or they go to the gym, and they run before the season.
Nobody really recommends anything. I suppose if you searched for it, you'd find some trainer somewhere who would recommend some stuff, but the NBA referees that I'm friends with, they just run. We put in a fair amount of miles.
We do some side slides, like running sideways a little bit, to work muscles you don't really work too much if you're just running forward. But nothing elaborate.