It’s been a rough couple days around here. When Coach Pearl met with the team and members of the support staff last week about what was going on, I could see the pain and sadness in his face throughout his heartfelt message. Telling us and the players whom he treats as sons that he had let us down was really tough for him. But, our players are resilient. They were at the press conference to support their coaches and were eager all weekend to get back to work. In fact, after watching the 3rd quarter of the football game in my office I walked through Pratt Pavilion toward our locker room in Thompson-Boling Arena and there were four of our guys in the gym working out!
Their work ethic continued this morning as they attacked The Hill. Despite a huge reduction in rest time between each rep and the allotted time to sprint up the hill for each group being lowered by one second (Guards 14 to 13, Wings 15 to 14, Big’s 16 to 15), the guys competed their butts off. For the first time all preseason, the hill was so tough two guys didn’t make their times on the last rep. When this happens we make those guys rerun the rep until they finish it within their allotted time frame. With their legs already shaking, body covered in sweat and continued gasps for air there was no complaining, no arguing and no loss of focus. In fact, there was determination in their eyes as they toed the start line before sprinting up to successfully complete their last Hill.
After the morning workout we discussed with the team this week’s upcoming schedule. On September 15th the NCAA allows coaches throughout the country to begin conducting “Team Practice” for up to two hours per week in place of the previously mandated four person individuals. However, because of our staff’s strong belief in individual skill development during this time of year, our coaches will utilize one hour of their allotted court time to continue conducting individual workouts and one hour for team practice. Although our staff and players are chomping at the bit to get everyone out on the floor together, it is important to get our players as many individual offensive and defensive repetitions to develop the skill sets they’ll utilize within our philosophies.
On Thursday, when we get the team together for our first basketball workout led by Coach Pearl, we will focus on the foundation of our team concepts. In addition the roles within our team will begin to be defined as the competitive spirit and anxiety begins to mount within each player. No matter what your job is, when your boss asks you to do something or is present while you work, your internal focus and pressure to succeed elevates. Some thrive under these circumstances while others fold. Thursday will provide us with a peek of what could happen when official practice begins on October 15th but more importantly it’s another day for us to work to get better “every day and in every way!”