Feb. 19, 2013
CHICAGO - You can tell the true character of a team by how it responds to adversity and struggles. Last week, we had some tough losses at Youngstown State and Milwaukee, with the Youngstown State game being a heartbreaker. Although we were minus a few starters, we fought the entire game. After we got down by 14 points, together, we battled back with possession-by-possession defense to eventually take a five-point lead in the second half, but a couple clutch baskets by Youngstown's top players in the final seconds gave them a one-point victory. That loss stung because we knew we could have easily won that game, as well as many other games that have ended in a similar fashion this year. But, we didn't hang our heads because we knew that we would have another chance to play another game, and prove ourselves.
We went up to Milwaukee to play a team that has been struggling a little bit this year. This game just added more fuel to the fire. Once again, we played without some regular starters, but this team would never use that as an excuse because we are confident and know that whomever we have on the court is capable of playing Loyola style basketball. We pride ourselves on defense, hustling, and getting every loose ball, but this game, for whatever reason, we seemed to get away from those principles. After losing this game we could not look at each other the same way we could after the Youngstown State game. After that game, we could not hang our heads because we knew that against Youngstown State we gave it our all for the entire 40 minutes of play and just came up a little bit short. The Milwaukee game was different though, because we got away from some principles that make us who we are and what we want our identity to be. We knew we had to address some things in preparation for the next game against the city rival UIC.
The first thing I want to do is thank the fans that came out to support us Saturday. UIC brought hundreds of fans to Gentile Arena for our important city rivalry games, but our students did not disappoint and came out in full force to support us. We notice the support of our fellow students and fans, and we always want to play our best for every fan.
Against UIC, we got back to some principles in this game that had been lacking the previous couple of games and showed our true character. We were able to look at each other in every single timeout and see the sweat coming off each other's faces because we were working as hard as we could. We played together as a defensive unit and were double-teaming, rotating, talking, and switching to show different looks, but the biggest thing that we had in this game was our ability to finish. We were in control the entire game and there was never a moment that we didn't know we were going to win.
Tuesday night, we have a huge game at home against Valparaiso, which is leading the Horizon League. We need the same kind of support from our students and fans that we got on Saturday to help provide a home court advantage against a very good team. I hope to see and hear you at Gentile Tuesday night!