Women's Basketball Final Four Player Blog

On Wednesday's Trip to the Final Four

Finucane

"We are in Holland Michigan!

The day began with our last practice in our home gym. I don’t think that anyone realized that we wouldn’t be playing in that gym again this year until Coach mentioned it at the end of practice. It was definitely an eye-opener to all that we have been through this year. We started our season in that gym and luckily we were not ending it there. Then we all showered and packed for the biggest road trip of the season. The Road to Holland Michigan was about to depart.

We loaded our bus and headed to the airport. No, not Bradley or Logan, but the Westover military base where we would board a thirty person charter flight that would be occupied solely by Amherst Basketball players. The flight was all of two hours, which is funny to think about because it took us longer to get to Bowdoin or Middlebury during the regular season. It was the first perk of making it to the Final Four.

When we finally arrived to the hotel in Michigan we were greeted with NCAA representatives who were pleased to give us our rooms and show us to our “Hospitality Room.” If you are thinking, “Hospitality Room?” join the club because until we walked in none of us had any idea either. Each player was given an extra key to get into this “Hospitality Room” where you would find everything we could imagine. From computers and a flat screen TV, to cereal and ice cream, this room was loaded.

As the initial shock of being in Michigan was slowly wearing off we sat down for a team dinner and meeting. We discussed the purpose for the trip and the itinerary for the week. After our gathering we dispersed to our rooms to watch our television shows, NBA games, and go to bed, the week is just beginning."

-First-year guard Shannon Finucane

On Thursday's Practice and the NCAA Final Four Banquet

Harik

"When we first walked into the gym, we got excited when we saw the facility, the banners, the words Final Four and Amherst everywhere. It was really cool to walk out on the court, and see a huge NCAA Championship logo on the middle of the floor. Our locker room was really, really nice, and we got all sorts of gifts from the NCAA.

Myself, Shannon, Jaci and Coach went up to the press conference and I think we were all a little excited to take part in that. We were all pretty fired up from all the fan fare surrounding getting into the stadium. But once we stepped on the court, as excited as we were, we knew we had to stay focused. Wash.-U. and all the other teams here are very good. We tried to put everything else aside and just focus.

During practice, we went into our regular routine. We tried not to be awestruck, and just have a normal practice. We got up and down the court to get our legs underneath us, and we did plenty of shooting to get used to the hoops and our surroundings.

At the end of practice, we went through our scouting report, and we felt good. We were able to take a look at their individual players and what they do on the court, and then use a film session this afternoon to see those moves.

This evening we went to the Championship Banquet, and we all got dressed up and took pictures at the hotel before heading to the dinner. The tables were really nice with decorations and some souvenirs from Holland. Some people got Final Four signature basketballs to have their teammates sign and bring home.

I think we all really enjoyed listening to Susannah Ludwig and all the other speakers at the banquet, and it was nice to hear from the other schools. After the speeches, they showed a Road to Holland highlight film that got everyone really excited again. And to cap the night, they announced the WBCA All-American teams, with Jaci being named as one of the 10 best players in the nation!

Overall, the night was just really fun. No one was looking at their watch, and we were all taking so many pictures to try and take in every moment and make them last."

-Senior co-captain Yasmine Harik

On Friday Morning's Shoot-Around, and Semifinal Game Prep

Leyman
"It’s finally game day here in Holland, MI. After all the hype our team has heard throughout the past week, we’re just ready to play. We had shoot around early this morning at DeVos Fieldhouse. The mood was light as we ate breakfast this morning and then headed to the gym. But we were all business as soon as the clock started for practice. Shoot-around this morning went really well; we were all focused and energized, even at 9:30 in the morning. I could see on everyone’s faces that we just couldn’t wait for game time. Sure we enjoy the locker room outfitted from head to toe with free gear and food, but we’re focused on winning these next two games!

Last night was the banquet for the players. As soon as we walked in, we saw an ice statue in the shape of a basketball hoop welcoming as to the banquet hall. Each team lined up and walked in to applause of the crowd that was already seated. After a welcome from the President of Hope College and the mayor of Holland, we had a delicious dinner and then heard from some great speakers. An English professor from Hope College, who was a basketball player and whose father was a basketball coach at Pitt, gave a great speech. His message: don’t play to beat the other team; play because you love it, you’ve worked so hard to get here and just play to win. Then, there was a student speaker chosen from each team. Susannah Ludwig gave an amazing, poised speech for the Lord Jeffs. The announcement of the WBCA All-American Team brought great news for our Lord Jeffs, as sophomore Jaci Daigneault made the team! The bright lights of the banquet were exciting and something we’ll never forget. But, we’re not letting all of the hype go to our heads. We can’t wait for four o’clock tonight when we play in Amherst Women’s Basketball’s first Final Four game ever!"

-Sophomore center Sarah Leyman