It's January already. We're already almost halfway through our season and a lot has happened since my last post. Between last time and now what I mainly want to share with you is the fact that basketball is so much more complex than an audience would suspect. The most perplexing part of the game to me is the ups and downs of the sport. Basketball is such a momentum game, for the fans, for the teams and for each individual player. If you've watched basketball much you would know that. It's incredible how sometimes it seems like one team can't miss and another can't make it or no matter how hard you box out you just can't secure a rebound or for as many times as you dive on the floor you just can't get a loose ball to roll your way. It can be the greatest feeling if you're on the positive end of it but the worst if you're not. The Toledo game felt like that a little bit. When you're up by 19 in the second half and you end up loosing it is never good but besides not having our best game we got caught on the wrong end of a huge momentum swing. That game hit us hard. Before that game we felt on top of the world, I felt on top of the world. We were ranked, blowing some teams out by 30 or 40 and just extremely confident. After that Toledo game we had to scratch and claw just a little more. The teams we were playing were definitely very skilled but just squeaking by Miami by nine and Butler in double overtime by three was not what we had grown accustomed to in the beginning of our season. We took one more hard hit from Vermont in the Dartmouth tournament before finding our stride again versus Dartmouth and Navy. We won those games by 21 and 30 respectively. So we closed out our non-conference schedule 12-3 and seemed to be on track to having the year I had in mind when we started the season. You always wish it could have been perfect but I predicted some twists and turns in the plot so it is nice to see that we responded and are continuing to kick butt.
Those twists and turns have not been absent from my game either. After starting the season off the strongest I ever had, I definitely hit my own little road bump. In the four games following Butler I put up well below my averages at 6 pts and 3 rebounds, 4 pts and 4 rebounds, 2 pts and 2 rebounds and 4 pts and 2 rebounds. I love how deep our team is this year with the fact that we are still going to win games without everyone having on nights but without sugar coating it that is just not where you want to be in the middle of your senior year. This is where basketball hits you with the momentum card as a player. At the beginning of the season, I felt great and when you're on the up side of momentum you feel indestructible. You love basketball and it's loving you back. The part that the audience doesn't see is the mental battle an individual has with basketball, when you can't find that momentum for yourself. It can turn into a downward spiral because you're frustrated that you're not playing well so you get in the gym more but every time you play it can frustrate you even more and it is just flat out tough.
When I was growing up a lot of the time I would hear comments like, "you must absolutely love basketball, you spend so much time in the gym" or "you give up so much for that sport, it has to be your life" and for some people it absolutely is. A lot of time I think some coaches must be like that. They spend so much time with the game, recruiting, scouting, cutting film, practices, etc. etc. that I think part of a college coach just has to be deeply passionate about the sport. I have an incredible amount of respect for those people but the biggest secret or truth that not many know is that a lot of players are not like that, including me. When you're struggling to find your stride basketball can turn into something that is just not fun. I have a different relationship with basketball and that always becomes apparent to me when things are not going my way on the court. In the past, going through a so-called "drought" like I am now would worry me. I would worry that I was losing my passion for the game because it is possible to become so frustrated at basketball that it just makes you mad or upset every time you play it. However, I don't think I will ever loose love for the game, regardless of how many times I get a "stare" from Jabir because when I am in the gym by myself, before I even pick up a ball and all I can hear is the buzzing of the lights, no other sound or place feels so perfect. That's when I know that even if I hate basketball sometimes that it is such an ingrain part of me that I could never give up on it.
Now that we're into our conference, which is always a whole new season, I really wanted to get things going again. It wasn't until yesterday afternoon versus St. Bonaventure where I finally found my game. We were able to win against George Washington for the first time in program history at their place in game one of the A-10. Which is always nice and boasting a 13-3 record doesn't hurt either but I think the team would agree that the win against St. Bonaventure just felt like such a complete game. We all played so hard for 40 minutes that it didn't matter what the Bonnies threw at us. Those are the best games. In the first half, I was still scratching and clawing for anything to go my way offensively. I made a few tough drives and put in a lucky spin move on the baseline but still wasn't getting anything easy. Finally, in the second half after a few nice passes from Casey and Patrice I was able to find my stride. Then it was like the flood gates had opened and after a few offensive rebounds and a three from the corner I knew I was back. I threw a pretty lethal fist pump of relief at one point in the second half that I think exemplified how I was feeling to a "T". Now, that we've taken out the Bonnies and our team is in stride we're heading to Philadelphia to take on St. Joes with confidence. I am sure the team and I are not done with all our struggles of the season but that is what makes the great moments so great. We're on top of the world again and we are going to eat it up while we're here.
It's a great day to be a Flyer,