DURHAM, N.C. -- What a whirlwind few weeks it has been, culminating in a great night tonight for the NCAA selection show! We finished our regular season more than two weeks ago with a win at home over North Carolina. That is always one of the best games of the year, with Cameron sold out and intensities high. We played a tough 40 minutes that day and came away with a close win.
Exactly a week later, we faced off with the Tar Heels again in the ACC Championship. It was the second time in my career we played on championship Sunday and the second time we’d faced Carolina. We had flashes in that game of the team we could be, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Alexis Jones, our freshman point guard, stepped up and competed throughout the tournament and demanded a lot of intensity that final day. She went on to earn tournament MVP honors, marking only the third freshman to do that in the history of the ACC.
Our whole team enjoyed our moment beneath the confetti and balloons, not to mention hoisting the ACC championship trophy. Winning a conference tournament is one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve had as an athlete. You have to earn the right to play three days in a row, earn the right to no practice and no shoot-arounds. Games are followed by ice baths, meals and scout film for the next day.
Being “in the bunker” for three days with your team in a sprint towards the finish line requires a lot of focus and consistency. When the clock hit zeros on Sunday and our work has culminated in a championship, the satisfaction was sweet. The whole weekend seems exemplary of my favorite Vince Lombardi quote: “I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle -- victorious.”
One of the stranger things in our season is the break we have following the tournament. After our championship game last Sunday, and clinching our automatic bid to the NCAA, we had two weeks until we would play again. Coach P gave us four days off and people headed home for a bit of rest. But, when we returned for practice last week, our focus was on getting back into that “bunker” mentality, on getting ourselves prepared for the final leg of our season.
What we’ve accomplished thus far will hold no merit on Sunday and the work we’ve put in this weekend and this coming week to improve is all that will matter. We have begun something new.