Tomorrow’s game versus Brevard College marks the opening of the exhibition season. I know our entire team and staff can’t wait to compete against a different color jersey. This eagerness comes from the fact that our players have pounded on one another in workouts and now practice since we started school over two and half months ago. Therefore, I expect our players to be excited to play tomorrow.
However, my excitement for these exhibition games wears off pretty quickly after the tip-off. Honestly, exhibition games drive me crazy! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love walking into a packed Thompson-Boling Arena and seeing how the new guys perform in a game setting against somebody different. But, I honestly always walk away from these games somewhat frustrated. Why? Because we either win by 40 and I get disappointed that we could have benefited more from a practice OR we struggle to win (knock on wood I didn’t just jinx us and we lose tomorrow) and I begin to ask myself “If we can barely beat a Division II team, how in the world are we supposed to beat the rest of the teams on our schedule?”
I have come to learn however, that these games are absolutely vital to the level of success we achieve this season. The pressure and intensity isn’t nearly the same as it will be when the results start to matter on November 12th vs. UT-Chattanooga, but tomorrow’s game will enable our staff to evaluate our players performance in front of the crowd on things such as:
– How do certain lineups perform?
– Can guys remember the plays?
– How does each individual handle success/adversity throughout the game?
– How does a player respond to more intense in-game coaching?
– What is a player’s body language on the bench?
– Does FT shooting efficiency suffer now that people are in the seats?
– Are we as unselfish in the game as we are in practice?
– Do we execute our defensive principles or do they go out the window once it becomes game time?
– How well do we pay attention to the scouting report?
– Can we make in game adjustments if Brevard hurts us on something or changes up their game plan?
We will ask our players to treat this like an intense regular season game knowing that it will be very difficult. It’s human nature. But in order to get the most out of tomorrow’s game, guys will need to begin to treat it as though the Brevard Tornado’s are really the UT-Chatt Moc’s. I’m a strong believer in practice makes permanent. Therefore, in order to perform when the bright lights come on next Friday, I hope that our team executes tomorrow with great intensity and purpose knowing that they will be under the analyzing spot light of our coaching staff come film Thursday. As Coach Pearl told our team today, “You must prepare for every game like your preparing to play the best teams on our schedule. If not, your preparing to fail!”