College Player Insights Day 3: Managing the workload (Updated)

With the 2013/14 NCAA college basketball season officially commencing on Saturday, 9 November 2013 (Australian time), The Pick and Roll will be providing a unique series that provides player insights daily!

Damian Arsenis has secured Australian's Jackson Aldridge of Butler and Matt Hancock of Lamar to provide their insights into the build up to and including their season opener against each other on 10 November 2013 (Australian time).

Day 3 | Wednesday (US time)

It is now just 3 days until Butler and Lamar open their season against each other. Jackson Aldridge (Butler) and Matt Hancock (Lamar) blog briefly about the challenges they face in managing their school work and what they do in their spare time amongst other things.

Jackson Aldridge | Butler

Aldridge takes it to the rack - Courtesy Butler University Sports Information

So today we had a day off practice; it was a much-needed'day off to not only rest the body, but to keep on top of the school work. It's the time of the school year when assignments, exams and classes start to build up a little bit before a break, and then the finals (exams) will kick in later in the semester.

For me, I had an exam on Monday and have another one to sit on Thursday. Alongside these exams I have had a couple of assignments due in addition to other group meetings as well as regular classes! It really has been quite hectic, but that is college life as a basketball scholarship holder I guess. Usually on our day off we try to get out and about and do something fun with the guys in my class on the basketball team. However whilst it may be heating up back home in Australia ahead of summer, over here in Indy (Indiana) it is starting to get cold and rainy. So when the weather turns foul, we stay indoors, hang out and catch a movie instead.

On Wednesday we were back at practice, and started to look at our first opponents, Lamar. As much as I would like to get into detail about them, probably best I keep it off the Internet and to ourselves so that we have a chance in beating them. But I will say that we have to take Lamar very seriously as they are a talented team that like to get up and down the floor, so we will prepare for that. Today (Wednesday) I had two classes, organizational behaviour, which is about managing employees and situations in the workplace, and secondly I had operations management, which is about managing the supply chain in a business. We practiced later that day at 3:00pm for about an hour and a half. Things didn't go so great at practice as a team, and we needed to come back at 9:00pm to get things done. We also had a lift in there between the two practices, so as you can see I had a pretty busy day on Wednesday while trying to fit some study in for my finance exam for Thursday. But that is part of the college life over here, which brings me to some of the challenges of being a student athlete.

As I mentioned above, the single most difficult thing about being a student athlete is time management. It's hard to fit in everything, and have a bit of couch time to just relax. Secondly, it's obvious that being away from home is a challenge. I would be lying if it I said it wasn't. At times I see my family and friends doing things together and it makes me really miss home, but at the same time I know a lot of people would love to be doing what I am doing so I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have. Thirdly; strangely enough, a huge issue that I initially had moving over here was the food. I actually got really sick and developed stomach problems and ulcers because of a reaction to the different foods over here. And then there is the weather. I have been blessed with living in a near perfect climate in Sydney my whole life and to me anything below 15 degrees Celsius was freezing. Well I quickly realized that 15 degrees is in fact NOT cold at all. A few things that I do miss from home are; family and friends, weather, Milo, Weetbix, Maltesers, NRL, AFL, and lying in my own bed!

As much as I miss things, I really am having a great time here. I've had a chance to experience things and meet people I never would have at home. Time’s up for today l, but barring an Internet crisis I'll be back tomorrow.

Matt Hancock | Lamar

Hancock gets a start - Courtesy Lamar Media Relations

Today was our day off so we landed a good sleep in this morning, something that I was pretty happy about. I had three classes today, beginning at 10.20am. Being a rest day some of us enjoy the “luxury” for the cold tubs, and for me personally I find them heaven! As the semester is coming to an end and finals are approaching, most of our spare time is study based. I managed to squeeze in a few hours after class along with a 45-minute shooting session before my afternoon nap. To be honest, I never appreciated siestas until I came to college.

This evening we had team dinner with the coaching personnel, as it is like out last chance before the season starts. Afterwards I slipped in a few more hours study before calling it an early night. That 6:00am alarm tomorrow will be sounding all too soon…

One of the biggest challenges in my time at college to date has been the travel and missing school. Travelling is very taxing on not just the body but the mind as well. When you combine the added stress from the games themselves, it all adds up to quite a lot! Then you also need to consider the 2 or 3:00am arrivals back to campus from a road trip and then still have to attend your 8:00am class the next day. Thankfully most teachers are very understanding of the challenges faced by the athletes, and this assists us greatly and is most appreciated.

With missing so much class whilst on the road, some athletes may struggle with this if they are not well organised. Organisation is the key; I try to complete as much work as possible before I leave because I know there may not be a lot of time for me to do it whilst travelling as there are far more distractions.

The season we had last year was quite challenging as a player. With 8 new players and only 5 players returning (only 3 receiving significant minutes), this made it tough. Being such a young team we struggled to find ourselves throughout the year and as a result we experienced many ups and downs and finishing with a losing record. But now that is all in the past; we have a new recruiting class and our returned players have all improved out of sight over the summer. We really are looking to make a massive improvement this coming season.

However with all challenges, you do manage to experience some highlights! The amount of different places I get to visit and see whilst playing is amazing. After this coming season I would have been all over America and played at some of the top colleges. These include Kansas State, Baylor, Purdue, Butler, Washington State, Utah, and many more than I could also list. My favourite experience was last season when we played the University of Alabama. It just so happened to be my first start of the season in front of an almost sell-out crowd. It was surreal and an experience I will never forget.

People always ask if I miss home and the obvious answer is yes because that was my home for 18 years of my life. However at the same time I enjoy being away as I’m typically an independent person so I cope well in being on my own. However in my first year at Christmas time I missed my family and lot and ended up flying home during our team’s break; I was in Australia for less than 3 days before having to fly back to school! Moving here meant that I had to start my life over again, make new friends and building new relationships. To make this easier was definitely in playing with the team. We are one big family and help each other out; after all we are together nearly every day. The most I miss about home is by far my family. I talk to them a few times a week and only see them once, and if I’m lucky, twice a year. But I know how much they support me and how much they have done to assist me in getting here, and therefore I want to do the best I possibly can.

Check back tomorrow for a further update from both Jackson and Matt in counting down to their season opener against each other.

College Player Insights Day 1: Meet Jackson Aldridge and Matt Hancock

College Player Insights Day 2: Goals, Ambitions and Education