Dec. 4, 2012
Last Wednesday we played a very good, very quick and athletic Tennessee Tech team that had one of the best scorers in the country in Jud Dillard. Cully had a great game and we pretty much led from start to finish with the basketball in his hands. Jordan was the guy that made the win possible for us though because held Tech's best player (Dillard) on the team to just 14 points when he averaged well into the twenties (23.2). After this close win, we did not take Thursday off, but instead we went right back to work on preparing for the next game because we remember what happened when we went to Furman last year and lost a close game. We remembered that disappointing feeling after the game of having our heads down after the loss, so we were focused on some payback, and that is exactly what we did. We moved the ball quickly, and had pretty good ball screen defense that led to our near 30-point win. Turk put on a show for the fans with his unbelievable shooting, and it was amazing to see and hear all the students and fans getting behind us and driving the momentum in our favor. Seeing and hearing all the support from everyone gave us chills. The student section was loud and a clear factor in our momentum as we worked toward victory.
Now, after the Furman game, we get a week to prepare for a stern challenge as we travel to Michigan State on Saturday. The week off from games gives us the necessary time to prepare and get ready for task that lay ahead. Michigan State is well known for having some of the toughest players in the country. They are going to crash the rebounds, so a big emphasis this week is going to be blocking out and matching their toughness. After these past few games, we are really starting to come together in our defensive principles and rebounding, but we are going to need to continue to get through screens with intensity and keep getting better at all aspects of our defensive game this week. I'm personally looking forward to playing a big-time opponent this weekend. We know that Michigan State is a very good and highly ranked team, but we also know that we are not the ones with the pressure on our shoulders. We know that we are playing well and will continue to play well, but because they are Michigan State, they will be expected to win and therefore have all the pressure. The entire team is looking forward to the game, and we will continue to work this entire week to be ready for a fun, but tough, game.
This is an great week for college basketball because this is the week that we remember the life and vision of former North Carolina State Coach Jim Valvano. Bill Clark and I recite lines from his speech all the time. The life, the message, and the vision to the future are just some of the things that come to my mind when I hear that inspiring speech. Cancer will indeed affect someone that we know at some point in our lives. We talked as a team this week about life and fighting through adversity and know that we have to follow the powerful words of Jimmy V to "Don't give up... don't ever give up!"