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Cameron's (multiple) reactions to missing NCAA Tournament
March 7, 2012 - Michael Bleach
Talking to Kim Cameron on the phone last Sunday after the Tech women's team found out they would be missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, Cameron ranged from ticked off, dismayed, confused and defiant in our 10 minute conversation.
All four make sense.
The Huskies won 20 games this season, had reached three consecutive Elite Eights and were undoubtedly playing their best ball over the last month. There is no doubt in my mind that right now, Tech is one of the top eight teams in the Midwest Region. Hell, with the way they were running roughshod over all non-Ashland opponents, they might have been the favorite against any opponent except the top-seeded Eagles. Cameron clearly felt the same way.
Tech still did not deserve to qualify for the tournament.
Those who qualify for the tournament do so based on their SEASON-LONG achievements, not just the last month. And Tech had some struggles early in the season, getting blown-out by Indianapolis and Grand Valley State and losing a winnable game at Hillsdale. Combine that with the fact that Tech went 0-5 against team's who did make the Tourney (sweeps to Ashland and Ferris State and the Indy loss) and Maryville stealing the final regional spot with a surprising win of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament and the Huskies had very little chance.
AND it has to be this way, otherwise you render the months of November and December virtually meaningless. Tech probably was one of the best eight teams at seasons end, but they weren't over the course of the year.
Still, Cameron and her team are clearly struggling with the concept of not playing basketball in March.
"You just don't win games (by showing up), not in this league it is way too difficult," Cameron said. "You have to be committed from Nov. 12 through the end.
"Which is hard to say because I think we had a great season. We would make a run as a top-8 team. There is no doubt in my mind. And if we beat the No. 1 team in the region we are in. One basket away.
"I don't think we were ready to play without the seniors at the start of the season. Uncertainty and team not coming together soon enough did us in."
As you can see from that quote alone, Cameron's reaction ranges all over the place.
The team played well — but not well enough.
They worked hard — but gelled too slowly.
And they were one basket away — yet they lost five games against Tourney teams. Any of those wins likely puts them in.
"Disappointing to say the least from everyone," Cameron said. "They haven't been in that situation before. The new girls didn't really understand. The older girls it really impacted them; they were crushed.
"The season just comes to a stop so quickly. It is hard to comprehend that."
There is only one way to move on from here: Kick butt in the gym all off season long.
"Everyone needs to understand that this is not OK," Cameron said.
And she will look to now-senior Sam Hoyt to make sure the rest of the team understands that.
Sam without a doubt has to step up with her leadership," Cameron said. "She does that on the floor and now there has to be an emotional leadership role that she takes that is more demanding on her teammates."
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