March 22, 2013
The Greatest "Little Things" of the NCAA Tournament
By Gabby Smith
Points, rebounds, assists and steals are obviously big deals. We need them in order to succeed. Outsiders notice them, count them and discuss them. They undeniably matter.
However, as a team, instead of focusing on actions that show up on the stat sheet, we choose to emphasize the "little things." The "little things" are the fine details of our game plan that are equally as important to our success, however frequently underrated and overlooked by others. The "little things" include sprinting lanes, setting solid screens, making hard cuts, and bumping cutters.
There are numerous, obvious aspects of the NCAA Tournament that make it such an enjoyable experience. The stage is bigger, the lights are brighter and the crowd is louder. Not to mention we get new shoes. But, just as the "little things" on the court lead us to victory, it is the "little things" at the tournament that make it so special.
My teammates and I applaud one another for doing the "little things." I think the NCAA Tournament's greatest "little things" deserve the same recognition.
Upon our arrival, each of us is given a lanyard with a colorful card attached to it, which indicates which areas of the arena we're allowed to enter. I'm sure the credential lanyards serve a significant safety purpose to the security guards and tournament administrators, however, to us, the credential lanyards are so much more than that. They make us feel official. They give us a little extra pep to our step. A little more wag to our swag, if you will. Apparently Morgan Batey is with me on this one; she felt the need to wear her lanyard in the ice tub after practice today.
Locker Room Snacks
Visitors' locker rooms are always far from lavish. They are simply simple. At Gampel Pavilion, our locker room has the typical tile floors and metal lockers. But, just around the corner is a little table set up against the wall that is filled with an athlete's greatest yearning: snacks. There are granola bars, pretzels, chips, oranges, and apples. The excitement doesn't stop there; the apples are some of the crispiest I've ever consumed.
To others, the patches we wear on our jerseys are merely a reminder of the organization in charge of this annual event. To us, the patches are the epitome of a "badge of honor." They are a source of pride. They remind us that it is an enormous privilege to compete as one of the top 64 teams in the nation. I'll let you in on a little secret about these badges. They appear to be meticulously sewn on to our jerseys by someone like Rayte'a Long, who (here comes another secret) sews in their free time. However, they are actually stickers.
New Water Bottles
I remember the day I developed my passion for water bottles. It all started one summer morning during my freshman year, in the middle of a conditioning test we took in our team sauna, also referred to as Memorial Gymnasium. Since that day, I've always had a full water bottle within arm's reach. The water bottles we use throughout the season are great: 32 ounces and a nice metallic green. But unfortunately, they make a piercing squeaky noise after every slurp. The tournament water bottles, on the other hand, are flawless: 32 ounces, a pleasant blue, grips on the side and no squeak.