Court Vision with C.J. Lee
THURSDAY, JAN.8 -- Raising the Level of Play
Any road win in conference is huge because winning away from home is very difficult. Yesterday, we compounded this by digging ourselves into a hole in the first half. Luckily, it is a 40-minute game and we needed the entire 40-minutes plus a five-minute overtime to get our first conference road win.
I was most impressed by some things that happened behind the scenes yesterday that the average person would not know about. At halftime, Kelvin (Grady) was very vocal and encouraging of everyone. That type of leadership coming from the point guard position was necessary because David (Merritt) was not at full strength at all yesterday. I think Kelvin's enthusiasm carried onto the court. He was poised, he was having fun, and he was in control of our team. We know what Kelvin is capable of and he showed a lot in that hostile environment.
Also at halftime during our warm-up, Manny (Harris) called everyone together and was very animated. He told us that we needed to get our act together on defense because that was the only way we were going to get back into the game. This type of urgency was good to see from Manny.
When our best players demand us to raise our level of play in order to win, we can't help but follow suit. Manny made an incredible block toward the end of regulation that saved a lay-up. Those type of plays show you how much guys want to win and what they are willing to do even when things haven't gone their way for the most part.
I was thankful for the opportunity to get into the game and contribute when it really mattered. As I have said before, going into the game late gives you the ability to do something that will have an immediate impact on the result of the game.
I felt comfortable the entire time and was fortunate to knock down those two threes. The steal on the break was very ironic to me because all Coach Beilein talks to me about is taking charges in order to help us win. I set up for the charge but instinctively reached out as I was falling and knocked the ball away. Nobody was happier than me because every-time I reach on defense unsuccessfully, Coach Beilein makes me run a sprint. I dodged that sprint and hopefully I can dodge a few more by playing solid, sound defense.
Contributions came from all over the place at Indiana. Peedi (Sims) made some big shots for us when we needed them most. Laval (Lucas-Perry) made the critical three to tie it up and was steady throughout. It goes without saying that we cannot dig ourselves into a hole like this and expect to pull these types of victories out every-night.
We should be humbled by the first half we played and very motivated by the second half and overtime we played. Iowa is up next, and we need to play well on both sides of the ball in order to win. We should be proud of our win at Indiana but view this as a wake-up call. You cannot take any nights off in the Big Ten and expect to win games.