Our team is playing better but consistency and toughness in very close games will be the keys for us and every A-10 team. With the exception of Xavier (I feel they are as good as last year’s Elite Eight team), most A-10 games are a toss-up. The talent level among each school’s starting five is very equal. Depth, toughness, good shooting, smart decisions and some lucky breaks will make the difference in games, but the talent level is very even and at a high level.
Leadership in not only games but also in practice is key. Paul Johnson and Rodney Green do a great job for us on a daily basis. We constantly stress to our players the importance of practice (“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – John Wooden; “Every battle is won before it’s fought” – Sun Tzu).
Here is a great insight into Paul Johnson’s leadership. In the offseason we lift at 7:30 a.m. Paul personally checks to make sure each teammate is up early and ready to go. In season, we have our normal strength maintenance program and lift after practice. Devon White, as a redshirt freshman, comes in early for the extra workout. He is doing a great job with his strength and conditioning. We are excited about him, Karon Burton and Aaric Murray as freshmen together next year. But all that extra work is hard and developing discipline is not easy. How has Devon done it? With the help of Paul, who does the extra workout with Devon every day.
There are so many great stories that are not told in college basketball and we are fortunate to have some special ones at La Salle.