BOZEMAN, Mont. - We've all heard the cliché sports answer of taking it one game at a time, never looking beyond the game in front of them. But never has it applied more then in the upcoming Big Sky Conference Tournament, where you lose and your season is likely over.
"It's definitely a different mindset I think, because each game is so much more important. I mean, the conference you talk bout each game being important but this is like what it all comes down to. And so I think everyone gets really amped up for this game and we have to realize that you have to leave it all on the court on Wednesday. Because we don't know if we're going to be coming back again, and so we've got to leave it all out there and give everything we have for that one game," said junior forward Ashley Brumwell.
"I think at this point it doesn't matter who you open up with, I think the motivation right now is that you have one game that you need to focus on if you want to continue to play. It's Big Sky tournament, everybody's got a little bit more hop to their step right now. It's kind of like you got your second wind and it's a new season and that's exciting," MSU Women's Head Coach Tricia Binford said.
The Lady Cats play Eastern Washington Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.
Meanwhile the men's squad is happy to be the number four seed, but missing is one of their team's focal points, senior Xavier Blount. Blount injured his foot and will miss the remainder of the season. But setbacks are nothing new to the team, and playing in his honor only serves as a motivator.
"We knew that he was going to be out and it was a big blow for us emotionally as a team, he's such a big part of the team as far as his passion and his voice and so on. A lot of guys just wanted to step up and we just wanted to do it for him," senior Christian Moon said.
"We've shown a lot of resilience dealing with adversity and change and whatnot. That's just become a strength of ours in a sense, so we're prepared unfortunately to have to go on without Xavier. That's a very difficult situation for him and for us," MSU Men's Head Coach Brad Huse said.
The men face Northern Colorado on Thursday night at 8 p.m.
One factor that will be in the way of all 14 teams playing this weekend is the fact that every squad has played each other twice. There are no new tricks or major overhauls to prepare for.
"You are familiar so I think it comes down to keeping it as simple as possible for your players so they don't have to over-think and analyze," Binford said.
"It's definitely not going to be an x's and o's game, it's pretty much just going to be all about execution, just imposing your will on the other team and just knowing we're going to get their best shot, they're going to get ours," said Moon.
So what qualities will it come down to in order to win this tournament?
"I think it's all about heart right now, it's who wants it more, who's willing to do the extra things to get it done," senior forward Rachel Semansky said.
"We have the potential to be great this week. I think really at this point it comes down to consistency and kids stepping up and making plays down the stretch. That's going to be the team that goes to the NCAA Tournament," said Binford.
"Consistency. You know, not the ups and downs and roller coaster deal, but more just sustaining effort, sustaining focus, sustaining concentration," Huse said.