April 1, 2004
On Wednesday, March 31, we had a fairly busy day, as a team. Some of our players, such as senior captain Marvin Lewis, and sophomore point guard sensation, Jarrett Jack, had news cameras following them around campus, documenting our normal days.
I must say, nowadays, things are quite different. During the regular season, our fellow student-fans would congratulate us on games well-played, or teachers might compliment our efforts the next day in class. Recently, though, we have been receiving the same love just in greater amounts and more frequently. Instead of having one or two people speaking and congratulating you the day after the game, now we have about one or two hundred people doing it, and the congratulations greet us upon our arrival at Alexander Memorial Coliseum (our home gym) parking lot the night of the game.
Aside from the cameras following us, and the media snapping pictures, asking questions, and taking notes, we still have school work to do, and ultimately, we still have practice. Our teachers are fans as well, so none of them, to my knowledge, have given any of us a hard time about missing so much class. The professors are very generous in allowing us to make up tests that we’ve missed, or turn in assignments past the deadlines due to our traveling schedule. (As a side note, we had 6 out of 14 players on the team make Dean’s list last semester, earning a 3.0 or higher)
As for basketball practice, we still get in the gym and work hard. On Wednesday, we had a very good practice, after which we were greeted by a farewell committee composed of students, the pep band, cheerleaders and the media. We even had a couple of the campus sororities come out to see us off.
With all of the fame and semi-stardom that comes along with being in the NCAA tournament, not to mention the Final Four, it would be very easy to get caught up in it all and lose focus. With that in mind, we, as players, make sure that the team as a whole remains level-headed and modest and focused on the goal at hand. We all do a continuous job of maintaining our composure, and the coaching staff does as well. We know and understand how important it is to continue working hard just as we have done to get here, and must continue to do the same in order to remain here.