Jan. 4, 2001
While most of my friends were still preparing for Christmas dinner with their families, I was at the gym, with what I like to call my second family, preparing for one of the biggest events in the program's history. I've learned over the years that sometimes you have to do what most people don't do to achieve something special. That is exactly what Arizona State dared to do this year, hosting the first outdoor game in NCAA history against the second-ranked team in the nation in the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic.
As I look back on the outdoor game vs. Tennessee, I think of what it not only meant to me personally, but also what it meant to the program and to the sport of women's basketball in general. How awesome was it to play it front of over 16,000 fans, not to mention all those who weren't in attendance but tuned into the nationally televised game or watched the highlights on ESPN that night?
It is the reason I shot hundreds of free throws in my backyard growing up. It was the picture I had in my head when I stepped to the line in the rain as a kid and pictured the crowd going wild. Fast forward a couple of years, and my picture is plastered in the Hoops for the Cure brochure. While I'm driving to practice every day, I'm reminded of the game on the radio. Nervous? Excited? That's what good players love!
Theodore Roosevelt perhaps described the excitement of my pregame jitters best when he said, 'The credit belongs to those people who are actually in the arena... who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions to a worthy cause, who at best know the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.'
Coming up four points short to the second-ranked team in the nation proved that we can play with anybody, but in reality, we already knew that. So was the game a disappointment? We're still at a point in our season where we can learn and get better from every game, and I think our preseason has not only prepared us for Pac-10 games but top national competition as well.
Prepared to 'BE THE BEST' as our maroon and yellow T-shirts say this year, our quest for the Pac-10 championship has begun. We are at that point in our program where we realize that to be the best, we have to not only have to play with but beat some of the best. As we take on Stanford at Maples Pavilion, possibly one of the best floors and loudest arenas in the Pac-10, we will see just how prepared the pre-season has made us.
Exactly how far will this team go? Only as far as we believe we will, and there was never a doubt among the coaching staff or the players that we could beat the No. 2 team in the nation last week. So, as our team captain Amanda Levens said before our Tennessee game, 'Why not?'