College Player Insights Day 6: Game Day!

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 6 | Saturday (US time)

Game Day! The build up is complete with Lamar travelling to Butler to open the 2013/14 season for each team. Jackson and Matt provide their own personal account and views of the big game that saw Butler prevail 89-56.

Hancock came off the bench to see just 2 minutes of action, whilst Aldridge also came off the bench but scored 9 points on 4/5 shooting (1/2 3PT) to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 13 minutes.

Matt Hancock | Lamar

Game day has arrived courtesy of a 9:15am wake-up call for a team breakfast; what a better way to start a game day! We then got the bus to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a shoot around and on the drive there as we got close to campus there were a bunch of people walking towards it. We had no idea what was going on but as we got to the parking lot we saw all the fans tailgating. For everyone back home in Australia, tailgating is where fans get together and drink, eat and just hang out until the game starts. People were at the door watching us walk in but they were not allowed to watch us practice. That is closed to the public.

After this we came back to the hotel and had time to ourselves to rest or do what we want. My roommate and I just hung out and watched movies. Team lunch and pregame meal was at 3:00pm before our bus ride back to the stadium. After the game it was back to the hotel, some food and straight to sleep for our 6am wake up to catch our flight back. Now we get ready for our next game on Tuesday night at home against George Mason University.

Sorry about the delay on my portion of the blog, honestly after that loss it wasn’t easy to write about. The game was definitely upsetting and a tough loss to take. The first half was some great basketball by both teams. My teammate Donovan Ross was killing it and had almost 20 points in the first half and he had great support from Nimrod Hilliard who had over 20 points for the game. We kept switching leads until just before half time with Butler up by 6 points at the break.

Half time talk from coach was positive but of course there were still aspects that we weren’t doing well so he made them known. Coming back out in the second half seemed promising but unfortunately we had some costly play and turnovers that Butler capitalized on. Soon enough they were up by 10 and the lead kept growing. Our game wasn’t clicking like it was in the first half but we kept trying to chip away. Playing against that sell-out crowd wasn’t easy, for some of the team it was the largest they had ever played in front of. It was an experience we will never forget.

Hancock in action against Alabama - Courtesy of Lamar Media Relations

This is the last blog of the series so I would like to thank Damian Arsenis and The Pick and Roll Australia team for giving me this opportunity to share a week in my life with the Lamar University Basketball team. I would also like acknowledge Jackson for his efforts in last night’s game; great work mate and keep it up!

Jackson Aldridge | Butler

Game day: 1-0 to start the season! It feels great to be writing this with a good win under our belt. Before I get into the game, I'll provide a run down on what happens on game day.

Aldridge driving to the rack - Courtesy of Butler Sports Information

We had breakfast provided for us at 10:30am this morning, with the objective to get everyone out of bed and up moving. From 10:30am through to 3:00pm it's our own free time; some people take a nap, some watch TV and others just hang out. Today I decided to go against the 'up and moving' theme and took a little nap ot have me fresh for the game. At 3:00pm we had a shoot-around for about 45 minutes, which is basically just to get some shots up and run through a few plays as we get into 'game mode'. At 4:00pm we have a pre-game meal which is provided for us and then we have a bit of time to relax before we are back at the gym at 6:30pm for an 8:00pm tip-off. We knew that tonight was going to be a ton of fun because at pre-game meal, we had heard there was only 500 tickets yet unsold!

Now onto the game itself! I knew they had some talented guys on their team but #21 for Lamar (Donovan Ross) was a killer! He was near perfect from the field and had almost 20 points; I was impressed with him. In the first half we were not that great defensively and had to make an adjustment that would keep them out of the paint. They were getting to the basket way too easily in the first half. In the second half we did a much better job of that and we pulled away.

Offensively we shared the ball and played really well as a team. They defended ball screens a certain way that meant our best way to attack them was to come off ball screens and get into the lane and make plays from there. I think after the initial part of the game we figured this out and we did a much better job. Personally, I was happy with the way I played; I believe that I gave some energy to the game and it was good to see the ball go through the hoop a few times. But as for my free throws...far out! I had three of them rim out, and even more frustrating was the fact that on game day we always have a free throw challenge at shoot around. Basically everyone on the team shoots and if they miss they are out; make it and you stay in and shoot again. We go until there is just one eprson left and today I was that one! Our team has had a curse; whoever wins the free throw challenge that day misses during the game. So next week I may reconsider trying to win the free throw challenge during pre-game! Moving forward we have a few things both offensively and defensively to work on that we will tackle over the next week or two at practice. We have Princeton coming here next Saturday, who have been a great team for many years. They run an offense that is difficult to defend and we need a full week to prepare for that.

This is my last blog of the series, so I would like to take the chance to thank both The Pick and Roll and their readers for giving me a chance to share my college experiences. I hope you enjoyed it, and trust that it provide a little insight into my life. Take care.

This was the last blog in the College Player Insights series counting down to the 2013/14 college basketball season. Both the Pick and Roll team and I would like to thank Jackson and Matt along with their schools for their time and efforts in making this happen for the benefit of hoops fans.

You can read the earlier blogs in the series via the links below:

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

College Player Insights Day 5: The Eve of the Season