Dec. 1, 2009
Hello Wildcat Fans,
We are now 5-1 and just finished our stretch of five games in eight days. Needless to say, I am exhausted! It's really fun playing several games consecutively, but it definitely takes a toll on your body. We got this past Sunday off, and I spent most of the day sleeping and catching up on homework. Over the past week, our most notable win was against the No. 15th-ranked DePaul Blue Demons, 59-55. It was by far the best game our team has played this year. Defensively, we executed well. We kept a team that averaged 84 points a game to 55 points (29 points below their average this season)! Offensively, we had some players step up in huge ways. Our upperclassmen stepped up big at the end of the game, especially Beth Marshall, Kristin Cartwright and Meshia Reed. Everyone was really pumped about our victory so much so that we had the classic let down the next game and lost to an opponent we were favored to beat handily. As I have mentioned before, our program is in its building stage and we have much to learn, including how to handle big wins and stay focused during a long season. Knocking off a great team like DePaul was a major milestone for our program and it marked the first win over a ranked opponent since 2005.
Our loss against College of Charleston, 54-50, was a major disappointment but provided a very important lesson for our team to learn. Just because we beat a ranked opponent doesn't mean the next time we walk on the court we are automatically going to win. We still have to bring the same energy and focus to every team we play whether they are ranked number one, or have never been ranked in school history. Unfortunately we had to learn that lesson the hard way.
This Thanksgiving was excellent. It was nice to see so many families in Evanston for the holiday. A lot of the girls' families came in to spend time with them as well as to see our tournament--the DoubleTree White Invitational. This weekend was full of family time for me as well. On Thanksgiving, my whole extended family, including our cousins from Pennsylvania, went to our grandparent's house in Wilmette for the big feast. It was nice to catch up with everyone since the last time we were all together was over the Fourth of July. I have to mention the personal triumph I had on Thanksgiving Day. I took on my brother, Peter and sister, Megan in a friendly sibling competition of Monopoly. When we were younger, my siblings would convince me to make these "amazing" deals...deals where I was told that trading properties like Boardwalk for a property like Baltic Avenue (one of the worst properties) was a smart trade. Wiser in my years, I made no such deals this time and won! My brother even had a spreadsheet of statistics on the likelihood of returns by property which he used to make his purchases. Even with all this information I still beat both of them. ☺
We've got some scores to settle in our next five games. Last year, we lost a lot of close games and luckily, we play some of those same teams again this season. We have re-matches with Clemson (Dec. 3), Purdue (Dec. 6), Kansas State (Dec 13), Arkansas (Dec. 17) and Chicago State (Dec. 19) coming up. Last year, two out of these five games we lost in overtime, two of them we lost by a combined 12 points and one of them we just didn't play very well.
This week our first game is against Clemson as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. In last year's match up, we lost to them on their home floor in overtime. The entire game we kept trading baskets and neither team ever had a lead greater than four points. At the end of the game, we were up three points with five seconds left in regulation. They had the ball out of bounds under our basket and threw it to one of their guards who dribbled just past half court and threw up a "Hail Mary" shot. She made it. The game went into overtime where they ended up beating us by three. Our next contest is against Purdue, our first Big Ten game of the year. The last time they came to Welsh Ryan Arena, we went into overtime as well. It was a very hard fought game where we played some great defense but we just couldn't pull off the win in OT. I know the returners from last year are excited to face these teams again; this time with a different outcome!
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
Until next time,