How the Lady Pirates prepared for the Duke Blue Devils

Duke’s Kendall Cooper (21), Erin Mathias (35) and Rebecca Greenwell (23) pressure Hampton’s Georgianna Gilbeaux (3) during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 18, 2017. Duke won 94-31. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Chanel Green | Contributing Writer

“No one cares if we have four starters out and we play Duke on Saturday. There are no excuses; we only have each other.”

These were the words of head coach David Six at practice leading up to the Lady Pirates third matchup in the NCAA Tournament against the Duke Blue Devils.

Tensions ran high while prepping for one of the biggest games that the Lady Pirates would play all season. Although the coaches were intense in practice, the overall atmosphere of the team was still uplifting and excited, coming off their MEAC Championship win against Bethune-Cookman on March 11.

“Whatever happens ladies, just remember that we are still champions,” said junior post player Mikayla Sayle. As the team loaded up the bus the Thursday before with a five-hour drive ahead of them, headphones and IPads went on immediately.

After a long day of traveling and practice, the team finally got a chance to settle in their hotel rooms, getting rest for another busy day.

“Be on the bus at 10 o’clock ready for practice,” announced assistant coach Janell Crayton that night. One more day before battling Duke.

The team’s focus was honed in during their two-hour practice on Friday. “One more day until we shock the world,” exclaimed senior guard Georgianna Gilbeaux.

Fast forward to Saturday and the moment has arrived. “Game Day” echoes the hallways as the ladies yell while walking to the bus, loading up for morning shoot around.

After grabbing a quick breakfast from the hotel’s lobby, the Lady Pirates are off to their last preparation before the big game.

After shootaround, Hampton headed back to the hotel where they shower, do study hall and rest before they load up for the game.

In the locker room at the historic Cameron Indoor Stadium on Duke’s campus, the atmosphere was hype and loud. Speakers are plugged up just like it was a home game as the ladies made themselves at home in the guest locker room.

“Now I Do What I Want” by Lil Uzi and a mix of other  top-charting artists helped the team get in their zone.

The Hampton University Band took a page out of the Blue Devils’ book that night wearing matching blue and white stripped long sleeve shirts. Yeah, it was safe to say Hampton University was in the house.

Ankles tapped, mouth pieces in, head bands on, and edges laid; it’s game time. Before every game, the coaches say their peace and pray. After a team prayer, the mantra is simple. “Let’s go ladies, let’s play together, play smart, play hard. Win on three, one, two, three, WIN.”

After a hard fought game, the Lady Pirates were, unfortunately, no match for the Blue Devils. Tears ran down some faces while the team sat in silence in the locker room. Suddenly, the booming voice of Coach Six filled the air.

“Hold your head up Jephany, hold your head up. There is no reason why you all should not hold your heads high. We went out there and fought all season, through every adverse situation and did not complain or made an excuse,” he urged.

“I am so proud of you young ladies and I am blessed to be your head coach,” he concluded.

As the Lady Pirates say goodbye to three key players and move on to the offseason, they have a bright future ahead as they look to build off yet another title-winning season.

 

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