Dec. 21, 2005
Throughout the season an Illinois women's basketball player will post her thoughts on fightingillini.com in a weekly blog. After a week off for finals, the blog is back. This week, senior Maggie Acuna discusses the rigors of finals week, the Oklahoma victory and also brings along a special "celebrity" blogger.
Women's BasketBlog - Dec. 21, 2005 - Maggie Acuna with special guest Janelle Hughes
Finals ended last week, but what a week it was. Let's start off and say that finals week is always brutal. Although there are no classes, this also means that there are no games for a full week. This past week is the longest stretch since the start of the season with out a game.
My typical preparation before a final...try to know everything that was covered in the year of classes or learn everything I might have missed through =out the 16 week semester. This is the goal that must be accomplished all within one night. So when the exam comes around, it's actually do or die. There isn't much room in between. As bad as the finals sound, practice is another story that tops it off.
Most often we will have a final that starts at 8 a.m. with the maximum time slot until 11 a.m. Soon after a depressing and unfulfilling few hours confined in a classroom, you have just enough time to try to stomach a good, whole-hearty lunch. The college idea of good food: fast food. After conquering the battle against your final earlier in the morning, the next real battle is to come. This quest is against practice. The practice time is a minimum of three hours of complete physical torment (superman). Although the physical battle will take its own toll, the mental part of practice is what gets most players. But we went on and made the best out of both finals and practice.
Preparing Oklahoma: The week of practice was spent conditioning, but was also focused on our game against Oklahoma. We consumed ourselves with a schedule of eating, drinking, sleeping, and Paris sisters on our mind. The post players had their hands full preparing for the twin towers. Audrey was especially ready to show the sisters that they need to watch out for the "Tabon Terror" that was going to be coming their way on Sunday afternoon. Audrey was so confident that she could take them by herself she told Coach Grentz she didn't need the other post to help and double team. However, the guards were struggling in our own ways trying to find ways to help the post and guard our man at the same time. Hoping to avoid Oklahoma from "3-Balling" on us all game.
Game Time: After a week of finals, it was finally time to play. The game was our second home game of the season and we wanted to protect our home court. It was Sunday and that meant judgment day for us to see if the week of endless film, thick scouting reports, and the memorization of every Oklahoma play would actually pay off. The anxiety was everywhere. Everyone could feel it, the team, the coaches; the managers included were all ready for tip-off. If you weren't one of the 1,300 people in the stands, then you missed it. I can't do it justice by writing about the fight and determination we played with. But one thing I can tell you is to watch out of number 32. Danyel Crutcher ate her Wheaties that morning and scored 24 points to add on to her 11 rebounds! From her ridiculous performance, she also received Player of the Week honors from the Big Ten Conference. I expect to see Crutch repeat such a performance this Thursday in our game against Illinois State.
The game was crazy and individuals on our team all stepped up and did their roles. But the game wasn't about individual accomplishments. The key to the win was the heart and fight within all 14 players, coaches, and other staff. The bench was full of high jumps, fist in the air, and high fives. It was a TOTAL team effort, which is the most fulfilling way to win and find success.
Being a senior, I've been in and have seen many games like this one. But finally we were able to come out on top. As stated before, this is a huge win for us. We have to move on and play Illinois State at home and plan on continuing our winning streak to prove to others that the Oklahoma win wasn't a fluke.
Before ending this week's blog, I came up with this idea of bringing in other teammates to help and give their words of wisdom or just add some laughter to my entries. This week I chose another person who came through during the Oklahoma game to score 11 consecutive points during the game among other attributes. My celebrity guest this week is...#1 Janelle Hughes.
Maggie has come up with the idea of having a "celebrity" guest on her blog, so she chose me, Janelle Hughes. Ha. As if I were even close to celebrity status, but hey, it's Christmas break. This is the most excitement I'll have in a while, besides games. This past week, finals week, has been a great one. Classes were over and there was only practice. As you could possibly guess, we, the players, were growing restless. So, to pass the time we did some Christmas shopping for our Secret Santas on the team in preparation for our Christmas party. This time of the year is nuts in the mall but I found some amazing deals. Although, I must admit, I don't particularly care for this time of the year. It's dangerous! I've almost taken about a dozen spills already on the ice. Winter and me do NOT mix. Other than that, things are going great. I am just trying not to get too bored in my spare time over break. I try to stay occupied by watching lots of "Family Guy" and catching up on the first season of "Desperate Housewives." Maybe next time you hear from me I'll have picked up more thrilling activities. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Janelle Hughes #1