BLOOMINGTON, IN (WAVE) - Road trips are often the most fun and valuable part of the basketball season for me.
We left Sunday afternoon to take on the Indiana Hoosiers, hoping it would prepare us for our road trips throughout the season. Our main goal was, of course, to win the game, but we also wanted to enjoy our last exhibition.
In situations like that, it can be hard to find a balance between enjoying the moment and being focused on the game.
Step-by-step we treated this trip just like any other. The only difference was a photo shoot after our pregame walk-through.
After shooting around for a bit, guys couldn't help but grab their phones and start taking pictures of Assembly Hall. My teammates went all over the arena to get the perfect picture to post on Instagram. Soon social media was covered with pictures of the team together in one of the most historic arenas in the country.
While the KFC Yum! Center remains the most impressive arena I have ever played in, Assembly Hall is unique. It may be the giant NCAA National Championship banners that hang at the end of the arena, or seats that seem to stretch for miles in the sky, but something makes Assembly Hall special.
As the fans filed in and the IU band began playing, the nerves started to creep in on us. We often play road games where fewer than 200 people are in the arena, and now suddenly we were in front of a Big Ten crowd.
The atmosphere may have gotten to us a little as we struggled to find a rhythm on either end of the floor. The crowd was roaring as we gave up dunks and fast-break baskets. It seemed like everything we did was a step slow, and the Hoosiers exploited our every miscue.
After a rough first 15 minutes of the game, we seemed to settle in. We moved the ball, guys cut hard and we found the open man. After the first few minutes of the second half, we had cut their lead to six and went on to outscore the Hoosiers 42-38 in the second half. Despite falling 73-62, this was the first time in all three exhibitions that we truly played like a Bellarmine basketball team.
The experience of playing in an environment where almost everyone in the building is pulling for the other team is great for us. Coach Scott Davenport always says, "You have each other out there." Monday night those words proved to be true.
George Suggs is a senior communication major at Bellarmine, and his basketball column will appear every week on WAVE3.com. Suggs and the Knights open the regular season Saturday at home vs. Northwood.