Jan. 5, 2010
Hi Wildcat Fans,
This past week of basketball has been a tough one. We lost to No. 6 Ohio State (86-60) and Penn State (88-68). In these two games, we allowed both teams to score over 80 points, which was way too much considering we played at home and that we pride ourselves on our blizzard defense. Ohio State came out and shot 53 percent from the field while Penn State shot 57 percent, both of which are very high shooting efforts. Even though we lost these past two games we are still 11-4, which is a great record for our program. We beat two outstanding teams in the Big Ten already and we are dedicated to changing the direction of our program. In reality, we understand that the change is not something that is going to happen without bumps along the way. Right now, our team is faced with the challenge of having to bounce back from these losses by heading on the road for back-to-back away games. Luckily we are 3-0 on the road and can take the confidence with us into these games.
School started on Monday and I thought it would be interesting to talk about the role our academic advisors play in our lives as student-athletes. Due to our highly demanding schedules, our athletic academic advisors play an integral part in helping us reach graduation. Before each quarter begins, we sit down to schedule classes, a process which becomes instantly difficult due to the need to select classes around our practice time. We practice at 3 p.m. everyday, so all of our classes have to be done by 2 p.m. Certain classes we need to take in order to graduate may only be offered during our practice time, so it becomes a very complex puzzle.
Freshman year, once your class schedule is figured out and you attend the first week of classes, our academic advisors require us to fill out a form. The form, when completed, lists when every paper, every test and every project is due for each class. This way, the advisors can stay on top of us to make sure we are completing our assignments and staying eligible to compete. When we receive our grades throughout the quarter, whether they are good, and especially if they aren't, we have to send them to our advisors so they can keep track. If a student is struggling and needs a tutor, the advisors help facilitate that process. Also, when we go on the road and miss class, we complete an online travel excuse form, which is sent to our professor. After freshman year, you meet with your advisor once a week for check-ups and then, depending on how well you do academically, the following year you can just go in and meet with your advisor periodically. I have to say that I love my advisor, Betsi. She has helped me navigate my way through my college years and has become a friend with whom I enjoy visiting.
Back to basketball. We play at Minnesota on Thursday in "The Barn." I think many people would disagree with me, but Williams Arena is one of my favorite gyms (other than Welsh-Ryan of course) in the Big Ten. Most schools have the typical modern stadium that mimics a lot of NBA stadiums, just on a smaller scale. However, Minnesota's 80-year-old arena is totally different because it has a unique character of its own. The gym got its nickname, "The Barn," from the structure of the arena. It honestly is an extremely oversized barn that can fit over 14,000 fans. The floor is raised about two feet so the bench and scorer's table are actually lower than the floor. When you are playing, you feel like you are on a stage, which is different, because other than the 10 players, two head coaches and the three officials, there is no one else on that same level. The first few rows of fans are even below the floor level, which gives them a great view of the players' knees. The first time I played there I was concerned about falling off the edge but it is really not that big of a deal because the side lines are appropriately extended. Everywhere you turn their school colors, maroon and gold, are surrounding you...including the golden arches from the McDonald's logo that is painted on every step in the stands. Not only is their gym unique but the Gophers also have a huge following, averaging almost 4,000 fans at every home game. Overall it is a neat gym to experience so if you ever get the chance to go to a game at "The Barn," you should check it out.
Minnesota is currently 9-5 and 2-1 in the conference. They lost to Purdue but beat Penn State and then Iowa in a three-point overtime win. Our following game is against Purdue on Sunday. We beat the Boilermakers back in early December but after watching them lose to the 3rd-ranked team in the nation (Notre Dame) by only four points yesterday, they look like they have really started to hit their stride. In both these games we are really going to need to bring our 'A' game to come back to Evanston with two 'W's'.
Until next time, GO CATS!
Happy New Year!