Monday, April 7, 2014
What It Was Like: NCAA Round of 64
Over the course of the next week or so, I have decided to take the time to recap the most memorable experience of my life. I will be doing a full, round-by-round review of my thoughts, sights, and opinions of the NCAA tournament. Here is my first one: the Round of 64.
When we saw that we would be playing in Milwaukee, a few things shot through my mind. First was "that awesome, we will be so close to home" followed by "crap, it's milwaukee." For those of you who don't know much about me, I can be blunt with my opinions and they may be offensive to some, but I have never been in Milwaukee on a sunny day, and that is depressing. I've always said it would be funny to make a counter to It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia with It's Never Sunny In Milwaukee.
Nonetheless, my excitement to play so close to Madison outlasted my non willingness to go to Milwaukee. When we packed up our bags, loaded the bus, and hit the road for Milwaukee, I remember having a feeling that this year was going to be our year. I felt like we would have an opportunity to make a name for ourselves in the tournament. Little did I know.
Arriving in Milwaukee meant the NCAA tournament festivities had begun. We began our business trip with a closed practice at the Bucks practice facility. Let's start there. When I opened the door to a hallway (to find a bathroom), I felt like I was in a scene from American Horror Story season 2. For the non AHS fans out there, it reminded me of a creepy, old Asylum. I am not saying the Bucks facility is bad because it is not, but given the choice between the Bucks practice facility and the Nicholas-Johnson practice facility for our team, I would choose the Nicholas-Johnson a billion times out of a billion.
Following our closed practice, we headed to our open practice. In the Bradley Center (home of the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette) we were given the Marquette men's basketball team's home locker room, which was weird to me for some reason. Almost instantly the room was flooded with media. Now to be completely honest, I hate the media because I always feel like I am going to say something wrong or sound stupid. It is nothing against journalists and reporters, but I just do not like talking to the media.
So naturally, I was put into a press conference at the main table (go figure). My teammates and I all got asked our expectations for the tournament, what we hoped to accomplish, what it was like playing so close to Madison, etc.
When we hit the floor for our open practice, we clearly had the biggest fan support by far. Wisconsin fans are loyal and some of the best around, and I truly mean that.
Fast forward to game day. Now I don't want to call myself superstitious, but I have a pre-game routine that I repeated every single game for most of the season. After pre game meal, I would go up to my room and use a leg recovery machine called a Normatec, eat a healthy portion of honey dew while drinking a bottle of pedialyte, take a long, hot shower, get taped, then finish it off with a few games of FIFA 14 with my road roommate Duje Dukan.
Going into the game, I didn't want to say it but I knew we were going to beat American easily. You always have to respect your opponent but I just saw no way we were going to make that early of an exit in the tournament, especially in front of so many badger fans. It was exactly the first game we needed. Get a big lead, get everyone into the game, and advance.
Founder and CEO of The Moose Basketball
at 5:43 PM