Dec. 15, 2009
Hey there Wildcat fans!
We are now 7-2 since coming home with a 53-50 win against Kansas State on Sunday. Last year we won a total of seven games the entire season and now, just nine games into the season, we have already matched last year's win total!
This past week was finals week. I know everyone on our team is happy to have the quarter finished so they can enjoy some down time. Fortunately, I finished my finals pretty early in the week and made good use of the extra time by building a snowman. One of my housemates, Kaitlin [McInerney], came up with the idea and since I had not made a snowman in years, I was more than willing to join in! One of our other teammates, Dannielle [Diamant] from Las Vegas, also joined us. That made it extra fun because she had never made a snowman before so we got to give her a quick lesson in Snowman Building 101. Of course a little snowball fight broke out in the middle of crafting our masterpiece, but it was all fun and games. In the end we had an enormous snowman with arms, eyebrows, and hair made out of sticks, as well as red lips cut out from a plastic plate. It was great until I returned home later that night to find it knocked over☹.
Since we only had one game this week, our coaches were able to get a little more creative during practice. In general, my favorite practice days are what our coaches have named `competition day.' Any college athlete loves to compete, but it really gets fun when you can go against your own teammates because you can gain some bragging rights until the next contest. This past Wednesday was `Competition Wednesday.' These days we work on things we need to, but in a more competitive fashion. We start by picking two teams that compete against each other for the rest of practice, doing different kinds of drills varying from shooting to on-ball screens to 3-on-3, 1-on-1, etc. The team that loses usually has to do something embarrassing. I once had to sing the national anthem in an opera voice. That was fun.
I thought it would be interesting to describe what typically occurs when we travel the day before a game and then on game day. On Saturday, we started by having a 9 a.m. practice that lasted a little over two hours. After it ended, we had a half hour to shower before we had to be at training table. Training table is a nutritious, well-balance meal prepared by Sodexo, our in-house catering service. With full stomachs, we boarded the bus that took us to O'Hare where we got on the plane and flew to Manhattan, Kan. One of the really neat things about traveling with our program is that we charter planes to our games. Instead of having to wait through lines at O'Hare to get our tickets, check our bags, and go through security, we literally get off the bus and walk about a hundred yards to the plane. This saves us a lot of time, which is key when we are traveling during the week and school is in session. The other nice thing about traveling with our team is that we get to go out to eat at nice, local restaurants. This trip we went to an Italian restaurant that was very scrumptious. To go on a little tangent, our dinner ended with a practical joke being played on one of our coaches. Ever since Dannielle [Diamant] arrived at Northwestern, when she and Coach Jaques go out to dinner, one of them would tell the waiter that it was the other's birthday (even though it was not). This always results in the kitchen producing a dessert and everyone in the restaurant stopping their conversations to join in singing `Happy Birthday.' This time Dannielle ordered ice cream for Coach Jaques, allowing our whole team to be in on the joke and to have a good laugh. After dinner we usually head back to the hotel to watch game film before turning out the lights.
The following morning is game day. We wake up and go shoot around for about an hour. The time is spent to get used to the other team's arena and to go over the game plan one final time. We then head back to the hotel and, four hours before the game, we have our pregame meal. We get a break for a few hours before the game, which allows us to relax and digest our food properly. We then leave for the arena and start warming up an hour before tip.
We won another close game against Kansas State on Sunday. We are now starting to build confidence in knowing how to finish close games, although I think we are seriously starting to impact our coaches ageing process. With so many close games, we are learning how to remain poised and clinch the win. It is comforting to know that when we find ourselves in the final minutes of a close game, our team has been in that situation and knows what to do.
We have two games this week, one versus Arkansas (Dec. 17) and the other against Chicago State (Dec. 19). These games are two more re-matches from last season. Thursday's contest against Arkansas is at noon, and it will be packed with local middle school children, which will make for a great environment. If you are planning to come to the Chicago State game Saturday, don't forget there was a time change and the game now starts at 4 p.m. (instead of 6 p.m.).
Have a great week!