Not tough enough to win on the road. They won’t be ready because they’ve had 10 days off since their last game. They’ll be distracted by Jeronne Maymon not begin cleared to play. Many of you tweeted me (@MarkPancratz) about how all of this should be used as motivational billboard material for our team. I appreciate it but honestly, it’s not about any of that. It’s about our preparation and our execution. Since we worked hard throughout the week, spent extra time in the gym and watching film, we got rewarded with a great road win on Saturday against one of the best teams in the country. Our defense (40.7% FGD), rebounding (+2) and execution (56.3% FG) was the difference.

I know I’ve talked a lot about the above pillars of our program (defense and rebounding) in preparation for every game but as we flew home on the plane last night a vital yet overlooked characteristic of this team became apparent to me. Team chemistry. Selflessness. Brotherhood. Family. Whatever you want to call it, we have it right now. Our guys truly care about one another.

Sure any team on their way home from a big victory would be laughing and joking around enjoying themselves as they discussed different plays from the game. But there’s a different feel to these conversations with this team. At times in years past, no matter how big of a win or loss it was, a guy’s emotion and demeanor after a game closely resembled their individual performance. If someone played well they were happy whether we won or lost because “they got theirs.” They were more worried about their individual stat line rather then which column the result went in. Sometimes the success of the team didn’t matter to them.

This team is different thus far. Based on their play and their interactions off the floor, I believe these guys are committed to the success of our team. One way to tell is that even when things are going bad individually, guys are able to make positive contributions to the team. For example, they may be brickin’ everything they shoot on offense, but still continuing to play hard effective defense. Right now our guys are doing whatever they can to make their teammates better. Selfish people won’t do that when they are struggling. They will become even more individualistic when games get tough. These type of players can’t and won’t be allowed on our roster because they are a detriment to the team. They are losers.

Our players understand that if the team is successful they will eventually reap the rewards and garner more individual accolades. However, as we all know, selfless attitudes can deteriorate into selfishness if people start reading the press clippings, get comfortable or become unhappy with their role. Will we continue to deal with success properly by coming to work today searching for ways to improve? Most teams in the country won’t do that every day. How good do we want to be? Do we want to be a good team or do we want to continue to improve and become a great team by March? The only way that happens is if we continue to work hard and each member of our team trusts one another enough to surrender the “me” in team and adopt a “we” in winners attitude.


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About Mark Pancratz's Blog

A native of Schaumburg, Ill., Mark Pancratz played Division I basketball at UW-Milwaukee, earning his degree in marketing and finance. He joined Tennessee's staff in 2006 as a graduate assistant, earning his master's degree in sports management later that year. Serving as a G.A., director of video scouting and assistant to the head coach, Pancratz was an integral part of Tennessee's six-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. At 26, Pancratz boasts an impressive 18 games of NCAA Tournament experience as a player and/or administrative staff member. He is a member of the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame and voted one of the 100 Legends of Illinois High School Basketball. Pancratz resides in Knoxville and is married to the former Brooke Waddell.
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