A lot more then just one basketball game was lost Saturday. Another opportunity to play the game the right way, is gone. A chance to treat our home fans to a well executed hard playing basketball game, is gone. A chance to remain in the hunt to finish 2nd in the SEC East and earn a first round bye in the conference tournament, is gone. The opportunity too secure a spot in the NCAA tournament, is gone.
Unfortunately, what didn’t get flushed down the toilet yesterday were our troubles with inconsistency. Honestly, the preparation, so I thought, was good all week. We had a really hard practice Thursday followed by a very good, film watching and game plan execution practice on Friday. There was no way I thought we would lose that game Saturday. None.
Instead, we gave a team who early on seemed as though they really didn’t want to be there, life by our awful offensive execution and poor transition defense. 10 minutes into the 1st half and the with the score close, we should have been up double digits. Instead, you could see their confidence growing, and our inconsistent demons rising. Not driving the ball to the basket, missed interior shots, bad jump shots, not sprinting back on defense…they were all back.
Don’t get me wrong. I know our players and staff want to play well and win every game. But, as we all know, there is wanting to do something and actually doing the things necessary each day to accomplish it. I believe that for the most part, we do do what is necessary to be successful each day. However, there are also things we obviously must change and or improve upon. Unfortunately, at this point of the season, some of these things aren’t fixable. I will say however, to fix those things that are, every member of our program, must be accountable the next few days as we prepare for South Carolina.
This starts with being accountable to take care of our responsibilities to the best of our abilities AND then demand from one another in practice what is necessary offensively and defensively to win games. If to a man, we are happy with the effort we give in each of those areas in practice, then no matter the result when the lights come on, we will be understanding to the outcome. There wont be any surprises come game time because we will see guys shooting the shots, making the passes, playing the defense and giving the effort we see in practice. However, if we are not happy with how a guy is performing in practice, we must say something then. Leaders of our team and our staff can’t accept it during practice just because it is practice and then expect it to be different come game time. If you practice the wrong way, you’ll play the wrong way not because of your lack of effort or selfishness, but because you have created a negative habit that you didn’t even know you created.
As the ups and downs of our inconsistency continue and an NCAA tournament bid hanging in the balance, Thursday’s game becomes the biggest game of the season. There is no doubt in my mind that our game plan will put us in position to be successful but at this point of the season it rarely comes down to that. At the end of the year, when every opponent knows your personnel tendencies, offensive playcalls and defensive schemes it comes down to execution and most of all, heart. Heart that I know we have but heart that we must show for the remainder of the season starting with Monday’s practice.
P.S On behalf of our team I apologize to our fans for our struggles at home this season. Our play does not consistently reflect the passion and energy you fill Thompson-Boling Arena with at every one of our home games. For all that you do, and all of your support, we truly thank you and hope to see you there on Sunday.