"I know a lot of guys, a lot of friends called me and said that they would be watching. And, I know three guys on the team, who were kind of trash talking before the game," Randle admitted.
"I played two of those guys in the AAU National Championship game my junior year in high school, and I haven't played them since that day." Friends watching? Trash talking? Playing against guys he played against in high school? One, then, can easily understand why Randle was excited for this game. For all that excitement, however, Mike Montgomery saw the negative effects early on, starting with a foul 1:40 into the game and an unnecessary dribbling turnover a minute later, prompting Montgomery to put Randle on the bench for a few minutes.
"He was amped up," Montgomery explained. "He gets a foul to start with, a reach, and then he dribbles [the ball into a turnover]."
"He knows it's on television in Chicago; it's just a natural thing. So I just said to him, ‘Look, I know you're amped up and I know these guys are from Chicago, but you need to take care of the basketball.' That's all I said."
"It was just a matter to get him settled down, not get a second foul trying to do too much. It was fine."
Apparently, Montgomery's advice worked. During a 17-2 run in the first half, Randle was on the assist end of a spectacular alley-oop to give the Bears the momentum. He soon followed up with a key three-point shot to give the Bears a 14 point lead at halftime.
In the second half, with DePaul narrowing the gap, Randle became the dagger. He scored 16 of his game high 24 points in the second half, highlighted by a three-point shot from NBA range, and was key to securing the win.
So, on this cold, December evening all the way in Berkeley, Randle did not give in to the pressure of playing a team that he was familiar with, against players that he was familiar with, in front of people that he was familiar with, from a city that he was familiar with.
All he needed to do was just settle down.
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