Dec. 8, 2009
You are Amy Jaeschke.
In the first half we were down by 11.
We fought our way back.
In the second half we were down by 12.
We battled back.
A score of 56-56 is up on the scoreboard with 2:20 left in the game.
The first thought that goes through your head is how badly you want to win this game. You want to win it for your teammates, win it for your coaches, win it for your fans, and win it for you.
All your senses become heightened as the final minutes of the game begin to tick away because every move, every play, every everything is of magnified importance.
Brittany hits her second free throw, and we are up by one. It is time to make a big defensive stop. One of opposing team's veteran seniors takes the ball right at you trying to score a layup. You step in to try and block her but the whistle is blown instead.
You recognize that that is the last thing our team needed to do but immediately you try and stifle any negative thoughts that come to mind. You convince yourself that with two minutes left in the game there is still a lot of basketball to be played.
The Purdue player makes both. We are down by one.
You are back on offense and this time our fifth year senior, Kristin Cartwright, finds herself at the line with another foul call. She has consistently found herself in this situation at the end of close games this season. Having full confidence that she will sink both, she uncharacteristically misses the second free throw, making it a tie game.
The next minute goes by and the score remains the same.
There are now probably a total of two possessions left in the game. It's your team's ball and you know we are desperate for a basket. A timeout is called and your coach draws up a play. You know there is a strong possibility the ball is coming your way and you will need to score. As the play develops the time on the shot clock begins to dwindle, you find yourself posting up a girl in great position to score.
, our point guard, passes you the ball. This is the moment you need to step up and score. Big moments like these are what you play for. You catch the ball and dribble baseline. There is a double-team on the way. Instinctively, your body retreats and you put up a fade away jumper.
It goes in.
Immediately, you want to celebrate but you are brought right back to reality because the game is not over. The other team calls a timeout and you try to re-gain your composure as your coach gives the team the defensive scheme for the last 23 seconds of the game. Purdue comes out and with almost no time left on the clock, they put up a three. It feels like you are in a movie as it seems that time is slow motion as you watch the ball head toward the hoop.
When the buzzer sounds. You are victorious. The chill of excitement takes complete control of your body. Your immediate reaction is to take a look at your teammates to see if the outcome is truly what it is. In a split second, you have found your confirmation. The next thing you know, you are running full steam ahead toward your teammates to join in a celebration. We just beat our first Big Ten opponent of the year.
It is the first time our program has beat Purdue in nearly 13 years. The win marked the first time we has been 1-0 in the conference since 1998.
The biggest emotion that occurs postgame is relief. Relief that you won, relief that all your hard work paid off, relief that the hours of film and game planning our coaches put into the game was worth it; just pure relief.
One of the best parts of the game was our fans. A lot of other student-athletes came out in support of our team, and toward the end of the game, they were completely into it, yelling a very energetic "defense" chant during the last play of the game. A few football players even `rushed the court' to enter the line where we shake hands with the opposing team to congratulate us on our win.
This game had extra meaning for our team because it was Autism Awareness Day at Welsh-Ryan. Autism, a neurological disorder, now affects 1-in-91 children and more specifically, 1-in-58 boys. No cure has been found but our goal was to raise awareness by hosting this event. This disorder has special meaning to our program, especially to Coach McKeown and his family. Their son Joey has autism. He is an amazing person. When we go over to the McKeown house, Joey is always drawing (check out his basketball players in the picture above!). The most memorable drawing he made for us was a theme park. He had different roller coasters and named each one separately. Not only were the roller coasters very realistic but it was truly amazing because he thought of every detail that would be in a theme park. So thanks to everyone who came out to support the cause. It really meant a lot to us.
We are now 6-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. One thing that has become utterly apparent in our season so far is how every possession counts. Four out of our eight games have been decided by four points or less. If we had one more defensive rebound, one less turn over, or converted one more shot we could have clinched wins in our two losses and been undefeated right now. We are only five points away from being 8-0. However as much as it hurts to lose, it is necessary evil. We need to learn and grow from the losses to prevent hiccups like these from happening toward the end of the season when it matters most.
I took my last final yesterday, our football team is going to the outback bowl, we beat Purdue, the first snow has fallen, and Harry Potter is out on DVD. Life is pretty great. I am really looking forward to the next three and a half weeks of no school where I can concentrate on basketball, hang out with teammates, and enjoy the holidays.
Hope you have gotten to enjoy the snow!
Talk to you next week,