College Player Insights Day 5: The Eve of the Season (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 5 | Friday (US time)

The anticipation is high as it is game-day eve! Matt and Jackson continue to share their build up to the big game...

Matt Hancock | Lamar

Hancock can play some D - Courtesy Lamar Media Relations

It was another 5:30am start this morning however I was grabbing my bags instead of picking up weights. We had a 1 hour and 45 minute drive to the Houston International Airport ready for our 10.05am flight; but as luck would have it, that got delayed by 30 minutes! Finally we all got on the plane and as soon as I sat down, I passed out.

After landing we got our bus and had a half-hour drive to the hotel. Since our flight was delayed, our practice got moved back too. This didn’t affect our schedule at all; instead we watched film beforehand in the hotel. Tonight’s practice was short and mainly consisted of us getting a lot of shots up in preparation for tomorrow’s season opening game against Butler. After practice we had team dinner together at the hotel and then we were let go to have some time to ourselves and do as we wish. I personally got some homework done and completed this whilst my roommate took full advantage of being in his home state and was with family and friends; the television remote was mine! Tonight is going to be an early one to ensure I am well rested. We have a 9:00am wake-up call for breakfast after which we will shoot around at Hinkle Fieldhouse, followed by complete game preparation.

Many people may not know that all through high school, basketball wasn’t my only sport. Rowing took up the majority of my time for a number of years. During year 10 (sophomore year) my crew managed to make it to the Australian Championship where I competed in our age group in both a 4 and 8-member boat. During our heat race we managed to flip our boat, and to make it even worse we were surrounds by women’s crews because we were the last men’s race of the day! However after qualifying for the final we managed to pull out one of our best races of the season and won by over 9 seconds, or roughly 3 boat lengths. This secured us the Australian Championship!

Every player’s dream is to play on national TV and in front of a sold out crowd, and now I get to experience both. Hinkle Fieldhouse has a massive history behind it; for instance it was used to film the basketball movie “Hoosiers.” It has a capacity of 10,000 and according to sources almost all these seats are going to have someone sitting in it! To make this even more important, our Head Coach, Pat Knight is a legacy in the state of Indiana. His father led Indiana University to multiple National Championships and has the record for most Division 1 wins in history. Now his son is his back in town! The Knight name is known all over this country and Coach is treated like a celebrity like he deserves. One of our assistant coaches played under Coach Bob Knight at Indiana so both of these coaches are coming “home” which is a big deal. Lamar is coming in as an underdog against one of the great basketball programs in the country. This doesn’t deter us at all as anything can happen on any given night; and that’s what we are aiming for.

Jackson Aldridge | Butler

The day before a game is usually light in terms of practice, but today we got after it! We needed a final tune-up so that we would be ready for the fast pace of Lamar. To start off my day I got the email that every student loves to get; "class is cancelled" for my one and only class of the day. So I took the morning to get into the gym and get a few extra shots up. I had the entire morning to go at my own speed and catch up on a few class things that were due next week before we had practice that afternoon. The only bad thing about the day was that practice went a little later than I thought so I didn't get the chance to go watch my girlfriend’s brothers play football. I would like to take a second to congratulate Brebeuf football on winning sectionals, and only a few games away now from a state title.

Friday night we just hung out at the apartment and with the NBA starting up again, there is always something on TV now. Although it is kind of weird switching the TV on and seeing the Celtics play, seeing Coach Stevens on the sidelines and the Celtics running some of the exact plays from our team last year.

Something that most people don't know about me is that I am now an American football fanatic. Two years ago we played out on the west coast against Stanford, and their football team was staying at the same hotel as us as they were getting ready for their end of season bowl game. I happened to run into their quarterback, who at the time was one of the best players in college (unbeknown to me). 6 months later when the NFL draft comes around, the same guy I bumped into, ended up being the number one pick in the draft and was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts. I quickly learned that this guy was Andrew Luck, and his number one fan is the guy writing this blog!

To our game, this is the time of year that every college player loves. Different games are being broadcast on TV, teachers are asking how we are going to be this year, and the school band was out early practicing (I'm not sure how happy I was about this one as they practice near our apartment and woke us all up). But for us, it’s a chance to finally play against someone other than your own team mates in practice. Lamar are a really good team, a couple of years ago they made a run that ended up with them in the NCAA tournament. They have a widely known coach in Pat Knight who is the son of Indiana 'God' Bob Knight. So we know they are going to be well coached and have some talent on their roster. I think it’s going to be a really, really good game and I can’t wait to get out there!

I’ll let you know how it all goes, but hopefully I am writing back to you after a win. Go dawgs!

Aldridge running the show - Courtesy Butler Sports Information

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

College Player Insights Day 3: Managing the workload

College Player Insights Day 4: Strengths and Opportunities