March 5, 2013
Last Saturday two Ramblers said goodbye in an emotional final home game of their college careers. The emotion wasn't just because the final farewells, but also because this game made us realize a very important lesson with our everyday lives - there is a lot more to life than basketball.
The lessons and places basketball can take us size up so small compared to family and the relationships we develop with others. Ben Averkamp had been struggling with some health issues and had not seen game action in a long time before Saturday, but there was a family in the crowd that watched him get back out on the court for the last time in Gentile Arena with smiles on their faces, and that is something that Ben and his family will forever remember.
Jordan Hicks made the day truly special. For everyone in the arena to see the strength of him and his mother as they walked across the court during senior day festivities was chilling. Not only did it give Jordan something to play for, but it also gave the team something to play for. It allowed us to put into perspective how lucky we all are to have the ability to do what we do, and to cherish the time with the ones that we have while we can. Jordan exemplified the strength of our basketball team with the career performance he put on during his final game.
The game went very well. We came out motivated and fired up. We knew that Cleveland State was a very quick and scrambling basketball team that liked to trap and be aggressive on ball screens and that a key aspect to winning the game would be taking care of the ball and moving to find the open guy. We did just that by recording a season-high 23 assists to just eight turnovers, which allowed us to gain control of the tempo and keep it in our favor. We scored 87 points for the game, and held them to 37 percent from the field, a combination of offense and defense typically adds up to a check in the win column. The near 30-point victory was a great send off to the seniors in their last game at home.
We are here at Youngstown State right now getting ready for tonight's opening round game against the Penguins in the Horizon League Tournament. The guys are fired up and ready to go against a team that has escaped with two last -second wins against us this year. Youngstown has a few guys on the Horizon League All-Defensive Team, so we know that it is going to be important to take care of the ball and execute to perfection like we did against Cleveland State. They also have some big-time weapons on the offensive end, and our defense has been getting noisier and sharper all week in preparation to take them out of what they do, and be ready if the game were to come down to another last-second shot.
We are going into this game with the momentum of our convincing win last Saturday. Our energy and passion from that game need to be present if we want to move on ahead and keep pushing toward the Horizon League championship game.