DURHAM, N.C.-- The NCAA tournament is finally here and in full swing. No more three-hour practices, no more conditioning and no more guaranteed wins. It's definitely March Madness with all the energy and excitement, but we have to stay focused. This is the part of the season we’ve prepared for all year long, and we're more than ready to make some noise. It’s tournament time and we have one mission: Survive and advance.
The energy surrounding the NCAA tournament is a new and exciting experience for me as a freshman. Finding out which bracket we were in was nerve-racking, but we were excited to receive a No. 2 seed in the Lincoln region and to be able to host the first two rounds at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Although we’re playing at home, our team is staying in a hotel to create the “away experience.’’ There’s a lot going on during tournament time, so it’s important to remain focused and stay away from distractions.
We played our first-round game Saturday against Winthrop and came out on top 87-45. It was a great team win and exactly how we wanted to start off the NCAA tournament. Despite our losses this year with Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones’ knee injuries, our team has adjusted and learned to play to our strengths. We may not have a true point guard, but we showed it didn’t matter with our 21 assists.
My fellow freshmen Kendall McCravey-Cooper and Oderah Chidom also represented well with some big performances. It was great to be able to play in front of our family, friends and fans and we’re fortunate to have that opportunity again on Monday when we play DePaul in the second round.
There are no guarantees from this point on, no second chances, and no looking back. We’re taking it one game at a time and treating every game the same. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, it matters who wants it more and who’s going to fight the full 40 minutes to prove that.
For our seniors, this is where their journey/college career ends, and they are not finished doing business. We have some great senior leadership and experience to draw on. We are hungry and excited to keep the journey going on Monday.