•After Monday night's 85-81 loss to #11 Maryland, first year women's basketball coach Sylvia Crawley experienced conflicting emotions. It was BC's best effort against the Terps since joining the ACC, but coming close and falling short – especially with the Eagles (18-7) on the NCAA bubble – left some lingering feelings of disappointment.
"Immediately after the game, I was disappointed, because I felt like our players played hard enough to win," Crawley said. "The next day, I woke up with a more positive perspective like I normally do. Maryland is a team that's led by three seniors who are being recruited hard by the WNBA. They've played in a national championship game, so they know what it feels like to make that big play or nail that big shot in a big-time game. We don't have that experience. It's something that I can't teach them."
"What we walked away from in that game, is that our players got that experience of knowing what a big game feels like, and understanding that they've got to come up with that big stop or big basket to win the ballgame. To me, that's priceless."
•Crawley enjoyed the contrast between the Maryland game, and the last time a highly-ranked opponent came to Conte Forum – Notre Dame on November 23. In that game, the Irish pounded the Eagles 102-54.
"We've come so far since the Notre Dame game," she said. "I've seen a transformation in the mentality of our players since that game. They had a fear of failure. To me, if you don't try your hardest, you've already failed. But to them, they were afraid of what would happen if they gave their best effort and it wasn't good enough. Now, there's been a lot of growth in their mentality. They're going to go out there and compete in every game."
•The Eagles were led on Monday by senior captain Corey Rusin, who had a career game, scoring 21 points to lead the team. While Rusin's locker room and practice contributions are unquestioned, Crawley was pleased that her efforts were rewarded with a great game on the court.
"It wasn't anything in the game plan [that led to Rusin being the leading scorer], but I foresaw that it was going to happen," Crawley said. "There was a notable difference in her work ethic and her effort leading up to that game. It was no secret that she was going to have a good game against Maryland."
"At this point of the season, teams are driven by their seniors," she continued. They're running off a different type of adrenaline. She only has 2 games left at Conte Forum – she's not ready for it to end. She gave it everything she had until the final buzzer – even shooting a 3 right at the end when it was over. That's the kind of leadership we're going to need."
"Corey's a captain on our team. When she stepped up, everyone followed. Off the court, she's part of the closeness of this team – they eat together, they do things together. They had a day off yesterday and they all went out… to kind of get away from the basketball court, dress up, and do things away from campus. Corey was one of the people spearheading that, along with Picco. She's a leader on our team."
•BC's next game is Monday night at Miami. On January 18, the Eagles downed the Canes 62-54 at Conte Forum. With 5 games remaining in the regular season – and two of them coming against Maryland and UNC – this is a crucial game in the Eagles' search for an NCAA berth.
"We watched clips of the last time we played Miami, and some of their recent games," Crawley said. "But they're a really hard team to prepare for. They have plays, but they're at their best when they're scoring in transition. They feed off of your turnovers – they're just so athletic."
"We'll definitely have to take care of the ball, and we'll focus on that. We'll also work on our press break, because we know they'll b e pressing us a lot… we just want to play solid, team basketball – that gives us our best chance to win."
•On Wednesday, Crawley was away from campus, hitting the recruiting trail. In the talent-rich ACC, elevating recruiting is the key to increased success for the program, and Crawley feels like now that she has some impressive wins and performances under her belt, recruits are responding.
"In the beginning, people kind of wanted to wait and see what kind of year we were going to have, what kind of coach I was going to be. Now, people are a little more interested," she said.
"High school coaches are giving us more calls back. We've had a few televised games, so more people have had a chance to see how we play. They've also been able to see my coaching style – I'm more laid back in games, I'm not a screamer," she continued.
"And they really like seeing the way we play. They like seeing that our players go out there and play hard for the entire game, no matter who we're playing."
•While it's hard not to think about, Crawley is doing her best to keep the team's mind off the NCAA bubble situation and on the task of winning each game.
"[The tournament] is something that the players think about, I'm sure, but it's not something we talk about a lot," she said.
"We talked from the beginning about seizing the moment and playing very hard each game, so that at the end of the year, we have no regrets. I'm not going to sit down and say ‘we can win this game, we should win that game'… basketball is, in my opinion, 60% mental – and there's no need to make it even harder mentally. We're just going to roll up our sleeves and play hard."
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