Dec. 21, 2012
Finals week may have been the longest week of the year. Our team had the difficult task of trying to focus on not only the biggest tests of the semester, but also a very important basketball game for our University.
Last Saturday evening, we played Mississippi State for the first time in 50 years. All week we dealt with distractions and media and people talking about what an amazing opportunity it was to be a part of history as the two teams from the famed "Game of Change," were meeting for the first time since March 15, 1963. Despite all of these potential distractions around us, our basketball team found the focus and determination to accomplish what we set out to do - everyone finished their finals, and we prepared for and earned a victory against a very good Mississippi State team.
At one point during our preparations and practice last week, Coach Moser sat us all down and continued to teach us using the Loyola team from 50 years ago as an example. Coach said to us that he understood that there was a lot going on this week, knowing that our minds were all over the place with finals and the game, but he said one thing that will stay with me for a long time. He told us to think of the men that played in that game 50 years ago and to remember the challenges that they had to overcome during their careers as college basketball players. The only way to do so was to do it together, as a team, and that is exactly what we did last Saturday with many of those Loyola basketball players from the 1963 NCAA Championship team in attendance.
Before the game, as Coach Moser was giving his traditional speech and making final preparations for the game plan, our team had the great honor of having the members from the 1963 team join us in the locker room. Although we may never truly know the struggles that the 1963 Loyola team had to face in its journey to the NCAA Championship, there is one thing that we will always have in common with them, and that is the name that is across our chests on our jerseys - LOYOLA. No matter the final result of this team, we will always be a part of history because of the name that we share with those great men who won it all.
Being off of school for winter break makes the guys feel like we are "professionals.," because we have nothing to worry about besides basketball now that the semester is over. We have had all week to focus on our tough upcoming opponent, Saint Peter's and now that we have put in our game plan, are confident that if we execute and do our jobs like we are supposed to, we will be able to enjoy a few days off for Christmas with the present of a win to take home. However, our minds are not on Christmas just yet. We know that we have to go out to New Jersey focused on what we have to do in order to win this game. Only after a win can we allow our minds to rest for the holiday.
On behalf on the entire Loyola basketball program, we want to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season!