Heading to Warmer Weather
This week, we went south to Florida for our Thanksgiving Tournament. This time of year is always bitter sweet for college athletes.
- All of your non-athlete friends are posting pictures/snapchats of themselves heading home for the holiday. A couple of the kids in my business program even decided to go to England for a few days during the break!
- You miss out on spending time with your family, as well as a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal.
- Even though you’re off from school, playing three games in three days isn’t exactly relaxing.
- No School!
- Warm weather! The weather in Florida is definitely better than the weather in South Bend. I’m excited to leave my winter jacket in the locker room for this trip.
- Teammate bonding: Since we don’t have school, this trip is a great time for us to just hang around the hotel and enjoy each other. We play cards, watch the entire season of Stranger Things, and just hang out.
- Early season test: This is our only tournament before the ACC tournament and March Madness at the end of the season. Its a great chance for us to learn how to manage three consecutive games, as well as match up against the defending champions, South Carolina.
Managing Your Time on Game Day
When its tournament time, winning = playing last.
Again, bitter sweet.
- Playing last (7:30pm) makes for a very long day.
- It kind of stinks when you’re coming back from shoot-around and the teams that played at 11am are hanging by the pool.
- You’re winning!
- You have more time to sleep during the day (crucial).
Managing your time on game day, especially when you have a late game, is one of the most important things you can do. The day starts off with breakfast and film, then we usually head straight to the gym for shoot-around. On a normal day, we’d head to the arena that the game would be in, but since its a tournament, the arena is being used all day. So instead, we go to a local high school and shoot-around. Although its ideal to get shots up on the same rims you’ll be using during the game, its still pretty beneficial for us to have a final walk-through of the scouting report and work up a light sweat.
After shoot-around, we have a gap before we eat our pre-game meal, then another gap before we leave for the game.
These gaps are crucial.
For me, I take a shower and get back in bed. If I have any more than 30 minutes, I’ll take a nap until its time to eat. After eating, I usually stay awake and lay around until its time to put on my uniform and head to the bus.
Why do I do it this way?
First, a nap is crucial. Waking up for breakfast, film, and shoot-around means that we start our “basketball day” earlier than usual. This often leaves people feeling a little tired. We don’t want to feel sluggish for the game, so a mid-day nap helps with that.
Next, I don’t nap after pre-game meal because I don’t want to still be half-asleep when its time to head to the game. This bit of downtime is also a great opportunity to relax and get my mind ready for the game. I look over the scouting report again, and think about my goals for the game.
Recovery, Recovery, Recovery
If you take a look at this week’s schedule, you’ll notice that after every game, we have a treatment session. This session can be a little irksome, as we’re pretty tired after games and usually just want to go to sleep, but its also super important for recovery.
This week, we had one of our massage therapists, Megan, travel with us, and she gave us quick 10-minute “flush” massages. These massages usually focus on loosening up our hamstrings, quads, or calfs, and once we’re done with her, we hop on the Normatec for another 10-minutes. This 20-minute recovery session can make all of the difference when it comes to making it through three games in three days.
Beating the Defending Champs
After beating East Tennessee State and South Florida, its time for the championship game!
We’re matching up against the number-2 ranked, defending champions, South Carolina. Of course, they’re not the exact same team from last year, but they have returned a lot of talent; including player of the year candidate A’ja Wilson.
Going into this game, we felt pretty confident. We have so much offensive talent. We have four players who’ve scored more than 1,000 points in their careers (myself, Arike, Marina, and Jessica), so we know we can play with anyone on the offensive end. Our issue comes in executing and getting defensive stops when we need them.
We know how much of an offensive talent A’ja Wilson is, so we were really focused on executing on the defensive end, as well as out-rebounding them.
When it was all said and done, defense and rebounding were the exact things that won this game for us.
Although we’re super excited to be the champs of the tournament, its important to remember one thing:
Its only November.
What has your pre-season been like? Any big wins? Let me know in the comments!
Until Next Time,