With the first part of our NCAA tournament journey behind us, we have confidence and momentum moving into our second game Friday against Indiana.
Things have begun to click. Our offense is scoring goals, great goals in fact, with sophisticated build-ups and world-class finishing. In the midfield we have become dominant in the air and on the ground, setting the tone and creating the rhythm of the game. Defensively, our constant pressure and compaction of the game is now the mind-set of all 11 players on the field.
One of my favorite traditions at Carolina during the NCAA tournament takes place in our pregame meeting.
For regular-season games we would watch a highlight video at the end of the meeting and then head out to the field. During the NCAA tournament, Anson [Dorrance] dismisses the seniors from this meeting. Then he discusses the different reasons why we need to win for the seniors.
Anson shares with us the sacrifices each senior has made to ensure the team’s success, from physically killing themselves in practice to leading the team academically. Each game in the tournament Anson brings forth more personal anecdotes, and memories are shared about each senior -- tears, laughs, hair-standing stories about competitive drive and heart-wrenching examples of trust you didn't know existed are shared in these meetings.
I don't know of a better way to motivate a team: to have everyone on the same page, playing for the seniors.