March 31, 2003
The end of the season always brings some emptiness with it. You go into every game feeling positive and thinking about winning the game, and you have to think ahead to be ready for the next one. When you are in a post-season tournament you are one-and-done, but the plan is always to move on to the next game. You have to prepare as if you are going to win, but as soon as you do you have to be ready to win the next one.
So the end of the season comes with a thud. You wake up one day for the first time in almost 5 months there is no "next game" to prepare for. For the longest time the office is dominated by that "next game," and now you do not have one.
When we got our first match-up with Richmond we felt very confident about winning that game. We didn't like the fact that we had to go on the road but we had played well against them in December and they had not been playing very well in March.
We felt that going to either Kent St. or Charleston would be a very tough game, but that was what we were prepared to do and we only had a few days to get ready. As soon as the brackets came out on Sunday we had to prepare scouting reports for 3 opponents.
We were able to get the Charleston game at home after beating Richmond, and we were pretty confident that if we won we would get Georgetown at home as well. Now all of the sudden it is easy to start thinking about New York and winning the NIT. We knew Charleston would be tough to beat but if we could do it we would certainly have motivation to pay back Georgetown.
It's a funny game. Since February 15th the only team we did not play well against was Georgetown, and we did it twice. We went down to there place and really laid an egg - Georgetown played well, but we did a lot of things that hurt ourselves in that game. We felt strongly that what we needed to correct was well within our control.
We were playing very well and I saw no reason why we wouldn't play well against Georgetown. They always compete and they always defend, so I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I certainly thought we would play well.
Georgetown committed 26 turnovers and shot 39% from the field and still won the game with relative ease. That is how bad we played. Our good run down the stretch has been so much about our defense, but the bottom line against Georgetown was that we couldn't score.
I think their length and athleticism really bother us. Our guards were not able to get into gaps and create open looks, and it seemed like every shot we took had a long Hoya hand extended in front of it.
It's a disappointing way to end the year - losing to Georgetown at home - but we did make a pretty good run to end it. We won 8 of our last 11 and we were able to change things up and get our guys to respond in the middle of the year. I just wish we had been able to figure it out earlier.
So now we look ahead to a future that seems bright because most of our key components return to this team. We had a team meeting and coach looked around the locker room and spoke to the guys about the amount of talented players in the room. But he reminded them that games are not won on paper or in a locker room. If we want to have a great year next year we can, but it starts right now. It doesn't start next October.
We need to commit as a team to the work necessary to win the Big East Championship both in the weight room and on the court. We will start our post-season workouts next week, and coach reminded everyone of the need to improve. We were a pretty good basketball team at the end of this year, but on the first day of practice we need to get better.
That is the focus from this day forward - what can we do to make ourselves better. That is always the challenge. But Midnight Madness is only 200 days away.