Between a routine morning press conference (more questions about the Donahue – Dunphy showdown) and a standard media practice (lots of lay-up drills), what stood out most today was the atmosphere in the men’s basketball’s team locker room in Jacksonville, Florida.
The day before what will likely be the most important game of many players’ careers, the mood was light and playful. Freshman forward Errick Peck took a quick nap on the floor, junior forward Mark Coury studied for a test (he has a 4.0 to keep up) and the other players stood around chatting and joking with each other. The team’s great chemistry — developed through years of living together — was on display to the reporters meandering about the room.
It was one of a few lighthearted moments (besides being escorted by police to Dave and Buster’s for dinner last night) in what will be the team’s most promising tournament showing, after losses to Missouri and Stanford the past two years. The team has “done enough ‘enjoying’ the last two seasons,” according to senior tri-captain Jon Jaques in his recent New York Times blog post. This March, senior guard Louis Dale told The Sun, “The sky’s the limit.”
Since head coach Steve Donahue has noted that the team seemed nervous in past important match-ups, it seems the jovial feeling in the locker room will keep the players relaxed as they head into a more serious, closed practice this afternoon at a local high school.
By tonight, the team will have done all it can to prepare for the fifth seed Temple Owls, but if they can keep their positive energy going, they will hopefully have a lot more to smile about tomorrow afternoon.
Original Author: Jasmine Marcus