Drey Mingo's journal: Making the Sears Centre home for a Big Ten title run

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the Purdue Boilermakers defeated the Wisconsin Badgers in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament, their first game in the postseason. Purdue senior Drey Mingo shared their preparation process with us.

Friday, March 8

Today is the day! It’s Game Day!

We had a 6:45 a.m. wake up call and we were all surprisingly bright eyee and bushy tailed! It’s amazing what the thrill of competition can do to a group of young women who are NOT morning people. By 7:15 a.m., the crew and I were headed to the gym to scope out our territory in the Sears Centre Arena, a place that none of us had ever played in (which is both a blessing and a curse). All Coach (Sharon) Versyp has talked to us about is making this place our "home" and we’ve adopted this mindset in different ways. For instance, Hayden Hamby made the arena her home by marking her territory before shoot around with the not-so-sweet aroma of her stinky feet, and YES her feet had a kick to them BEFORE shoot around! No pun intended. Camille Redmon decided that she liked my little piece of arena territory better than her own, as she politely placed her coat, warm ups and sneakers on top of my things when there were several other viable options to choose from (i.e. the 15 other chairs adjacent to us both) but what can you say? Gotta love her.

Pre-shoot around, the players and coaches gathered around the circle at half court and envisioned the successes we would have both as a team and individually, a pastime that Coach V takes very seriously. Shortly after the visualization exercise, we loosed the nets (and the rims for those that took a little longer to find their stroke, *raises hand slowly*) and headed back to our castle to rest. We are such princesses on this team that I felt castle was the most appropriate description of our hotel.

After shoot-around, life moves into hyper drive. Back for a quick shower, then film, followed by pre-game meal -- where it’s always a challenge to find a healthy balance between being a dainty eater, to the leading contestant in a speed eating competition. Don’t ask me how we do it, but we always find that healthy medium so that we aren’t gorged before we play, but we aren’t starving either. We all scatter after that until it’s time to load the bus for the game. I must say, riding in style surrounded by police escorts makes you feel super important, like precious cargo or having a leading role in the latest Mission Impossible movie. Then GAMETIME it is!

The Boilermakers vs. Wisconsin Badgers show down ended with the Boiler gang coming out on top 74-62, but the No. 11 seed Badgers didn’t go down without a fight, so much credit to them. Felt really great to be challenged from start to finish, but to come out on top, with each of us having thrown our own figurative punch in the fight, was a phenomenal feeling. Now it’s prepare, prepare, prepare for the No. 2 seed Nebraska Huskers and getting some shut eye to Boiler up and Hammer down tomorrow.

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