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FGCU's Sarah Hansen Day 2 Journal: Game day!

FGCU guard Sarah Hansen shares her thoughts on their 73-47 win over the Kennesaw State Owls in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament.

Photo by Linwood Ferguson.

Round One- Quarter Finals

Today’s the day. Finally game day. What we’ve worked for all season began today. Our second season. You never know what will happen when it comes to March. Every team is playing their best basketball, not only hoping for the opportunity to achieve success when it really counts, but also to continue their season as long as possible.

When it comes to game day, I’m probably about as dedicated to my pregame routine as you can get. It gets a little crazy with the noon tip-off (our games are usually around 5 or 7), but I usually find a way to fit it all in.

My day started at 6:55 am. My alarm went off, and there was no time for just laying around. We were leaving for shoot around at 7:10 am, earlier than I would like to be awake, but much better than the 4.50 am alarm I hear on weekdays for practice, so I’ll take it.

On the way to shoot around, it hit me that it’s game day, and the most important game of our season up to this point. I started to get that feeling in my stomach. You know the one where you feel a combination of butterflies and a knot in your stomach and you just want to take a deep breath and let it out, but it only helps for about five seconds? Yeah. That feeling.

We got to shoot around and got ready to go on the court. We had to wait for Kennesaw to get done, so Coach (Smesko) asked us about some personnel and our conference goals. When we finally got on the floor, we only had twenty-five minutes for shoot around, or game preparation as we call it (compared to the usual full hour). We had to have extreme focus. Game prep went pretty well for the most part. We only had one stretch where our communication wasn’t where it needed to be, and Coach made sure we knew.

After game prep, we came back to the hotel and had pregame meal. On typical game days, we have a pregame meal consisting of chicken, some sort of green vegetable, rice or pasta, a salad, and water. We have this meal before every later game, meaning we have it twice a week. If I didn’t like the food so much, I would probably get sick of it about halfway through season. Lucky for me, I really like chicken. This morning however, pregame meal was at 8:15 in the morning, a little early for chicken. We had eggs, bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes, and a biscuit. No sugar for breakfast on game day.

After pregame meal, I got into my abbreviated routine. First, I had to shower. Then, I squeeze in a nap. Usually it’s around an hour long, but with the early game, I only had time for half an hour. Yes, I was napping before most typical college students even wake up. I woke up an hour before we leave to blow dry and straighten my hair. It’s so much easier to manage when it’s straight and not a big curly mess.

Finally, I packed up and went down to get taped. All the while, I was wearing my chartreuse GAME TONIGHT shirt. We got them my freshmen year, and I have worn it every game day since, all just part of my superstition. One time, Amanda Moore asked me if I didn’t wear my shirt, would there still be a “game tonight.” Grammy and I both agreed that there definitely would not be a game if I didn’t wear it.

We had to get taped at the hotel today because we were leaving only half an hour before we got on the court. Our taping order is very specific: Joyce gets her ankle and Achilles taped first, then I get my ankle taped, and finally Brittany gets her knee taped. The best days are when I get the tape stitch in my ankle tape. Then I know it’s going to be a good day. While I’m getting taped, I listen to Papers by Usher and usually sing to our trainer, Brittany Loring. If I ever sing in my head or forget, Brit makes sure I cut that out right away.

After getting taped, I get my hair braided by our Director of Basketball Operations, Mel Thomas. Braiding my hair is another superstition I’ve done since my freshmen year. This year, I’ve started braiding Jaime Gluesing’s hair after I get mine done.

Getting ready in the locker room, I try to calm the nerves by listening to some music. I listen to a wide range of music, but I make sure I listen to Cinderella Man by Eminem. The lyrics to that song just really get me ready to play.

The game was a lot closer than it was the first two times we played them. Kennesaw hit the boards hard and were winning a lot of loose balls. They were playing us really well, but we finally managed to string together a run in the second half to pull away. We started making plays and getting better looks at the basket. Betsy made quite a few defensive plays in the second half, and that really helped our run. Joyce played an all around great game. She hit big shots when we needed them, got to the rim when we needed that, and crashed hard all game long. Steph Haas also had a great game. She was cutting so well and got to the rim when we needed a little spark. She also made a bunch of defensive plays when our defense was a little sluggish. We played a much better second half, but we know there are areas we need to improve if we want to keep winning in this tournament.

We really need to keep in mind that we need to come out hard every game. What we’ve done up to this point means nothing now. It’s a new game and a new team every night. We have to leave everything on the court every game. We can’t try to save anything for the next game, because there might not be a next game. I’m extremely happy with the outcome of the game, and I’m excited to get back on the court with my teammates tomorrow -- time to get back to work. One step closer to achieving what we came here to do.