The Richmond Register

Sports

March 18, 2014

OVC BASKETBALL: A dream come true

RICHMOND — While most students were off to vacation destinations during spring break, the men’s basketball team had a busy week of our own.

Recently, we went to Nashville for the OVC tournament. As I’ve written before, conference tournaments are brutally competitive and games are usually won by the smallest of errors.

The cool thing about our run to winning the tournament was that every game was a complete unified team effort. Different players got into foul trouble during games and other players had to step up.

I could just tell from comparing last year’s team to this year’s, the difference in maturity. A lot of the players on our team last year were getting their first taste of tournament competition. This year, with at least a year of experience under our belt, you could feel everyone’s focus and intensity to go out and win games.

Our goal for every game: Go and get the lead. The reason behind this is that it is much more difficult to fight back in games and hold leads. We trailed for all of 41 seconds in the OVC tournament. To most outside the team, that number may come as a surprise. But I think, to our team, that was our job and we simply executed the plan.

When the final buzzer rang at the end of the championship game against Belmont, it was a surreal moment. Like a dream come true.

As a basketball player growing up, playing in the NCAA tournament is the goal. From the time I was a kid playing college basketball video games, to watching the tournament madness that happens every year around this time — It’s always stuck with me that I wanted to be a part of this.

Lots of times when I’m around Richmond and people come up to me and ask me whether winning the championship has hit me yet, my response is no, not yet. I don’t think my teammates nor I can fully grasp how big of an accomplishment what we did was until we are much older, looking back on our playing days.

After the game was over and the celebrations at the gym had died down, a couple of us players sat in a hotel room watching SportsCenter and saw the highlights of the game we had just played. When the highlights were over we all kind of looked at each other and one of the players said, “Do you realize what we just did?” We all looked at each other again and shook our head in amazement. It was one of those too good to be true moments.

Everything that comes with being a conference champion has been awesome so far. All kinds of media have come in to talk to every one of the players on our team. Seeing our name on TV every night as one of the teams to have punched its ticket to “The Big Dance” was one of my favorites.

The city of Richmond seems to have an extra buzz of excitement going around. Its rewarding to see people get so excited about Eastern basketball. Our next mission as a team is clear: to do whatever it takes to win one game at a time. It’s what got us here after all. And who knows where it will take us next.

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