That blowout USI’s men’s basketball team suffered at the University of Dayton may prove to be valuable Friday night. At least. Eagles coach Rodney Watson hopes so.
Recall that USI lost 96-66 in an exhibition game for the Division I Flyers back on Nov. 8. The Eagles looked particularly awful in the first half, falling behind 37-9 at one point while getting blown off the court by a team that was much quicker. Now USI gets to play another team that apparently is super quick: Florida Southern, which happens to be the No. 3-ranked team in the country in Division II. USI will face the Moccasins in the first game, tipping off at 4 p.m. CST, at the Bellarmine Classic.
“I hope the Dayton game helped us get ready for this game,” said Watson. “This team plays a very similar fast pace (compared to Dayton). Although they’re not as big as Dayton, they are quick.”
• Watson is worried about his team’s mind.
It has to do with final exams. They began this week at USI and they’ve been leaving players jumpy.
“It’s a mental drain on people,” said Watson. “Yesterday (Monday) we had a great start to our practice. But as practice went on, it got worse.”
He said he would be talking to the team about “staying mentally strong for 90 minutes of practice.” This doesn’t mean that Watson is putting down academics. No way.
“Regardless of what the public things about college athletes, school is paramount,” he said. “These kids are here to earn an education. The kids are really going through it. Bobo (Drummond) said to me (Monday), ‘I’ve never worked this hard in school and basketball.’ ”