And just like that, we start the new season off 1-0! Was it ugly? Heck no! All wins are beautiful this time of year. Survive and advance baby, survive and advance!
I won’t, and can’t, spend a lot of time on the Arkansas game because with such a quick turnaround we have already moved on to our Florida preparation. Matter of fact, there is no reason to even discuss the first half. We played well because our intensity and focus was there. The second half however, we came out with a lack of urgency. Couple that with a stretch of bad decisions offensively, a few missed layups and some made three balls by them, the next thing we knew, we were in for another barn burner. Thankfully, our intensity picked up, and we were able to make enough plays down the stretch to pull out win #1.
After the game, Coach Pearl talked heavily about our teams and each players confidence. He hammered home his anger with our team for, at times, not having confidence in them selves. Our players, especially certain players, have worked way too hard in the offseason and throughout this season to not have confidence. At this time of year, you have to be willing to let your instincts take over and take risks. As Coach said, just watch ESPN, are there any teams who look tentative or aren’t the aggressor that are winning? No. Those teams that don’t fully believe in themselves, their teammates and their coaches, don’t win. Their season is over. Bottom line.
At times, we are similar to those teams who have already “gone fishin’. Our problems arise not because we don’t trust each other or the coaches, but because we have guys struggle with their own self-confidence. If we want to win tomorrow, we don’t have time for any self-pity parties. Not everything is going to go right so we must have a short-term memory and continually focus on the next play. We also need to gain confidence off the fact that nobody believes we can beat Florida tomorrow. They’re the SEC Champions, they’ve beaten us twice and they’re fresher. They are supposed to win. You know what, so was the last team favored to beat us this year, Vandy and if I remember correctly, Vandy went home with the L…not us. Don’t get me wrong, getting a win verse this great team is going to be a HUGE challenge for us but I can promise you we are extremely excited about this opportunity.
As I write this at 2am, our entire staff is meeting and rewatching our last game vs. Florida adjusting the previous game plan. However, because we played Florida just a few short weeks ago, there wont be too many adjustments being made for tomorrow. Not because adjustments aren’t needed but because there just isn’t enough time to implement a bunch of new things. With such a quick turnaround, teams who can successfully implement a few new wrinkles and execute what they can control despite their opponent knowing what you do and how you do it get these wins. Our staff needs to do our very best to instill confidence in our players, our players need to make shots and we need to force Florida out of their offensive comfort zone with our urgency. The first two games were tough body blows to our team but if we come out swinging by doing those things, we can shock the rest of the world and get win #2.