SLU head coach Rick Majerus is making his 12th appearance at the NCAA Tournament.
His players, however, are making their first. That hasn't changed their outlook on tomorrow's showdown against Memphis in Columbus, Oh.
"I thought the police escort was kinda cool," senior forward Brian Conklin said. "It's funny, you need a police escort for two blocks. But other than that, you're staying at a hotel like you normally do. You're going out to dinner. You're having shootarounds, you're having practices. You're watching film. So a lot of it is the same, it really is. Besides the police escort, nothing's changed. There's a few more signs around and, like I said, a little more extra media attention."
The mindset hasn't changed much, either. As sophomore Dwayne Evans pointed out a few days ago, things have been kept quite the same game-wise. Senior Kyle Cassity echoed that sentiment Thursday.
"Like I said earlier, Coach doesn't really change his philosophy from game to game," Cassity said. "We kind of do the same thing every week. If we have four days off, three days off, two days off, it really doesn't change."
Memphis will prove a tough challenge for the 25-7 Billikens. After finishing as the Atlantic 10 regular season runner-up, SLU was selected as a No. 9 seed in the West Region against the Tigers.
"Athleticism. Barton is a phenomenal scorer, athlete," Majerus noted about what sticks out to him. "Black, No. 10, is great on the low block. Collegiately you'd rather have a low-block, wide-body tough guy than almost a tall guy. If I could have Black or any of the Zellers I'd take Black. And I'm not just saying that. I like a low-body wide guy with strength and toughness. And then they have a bunch of shooters, 22. The U.S.A. track coach, Stephens, should come down and get him right away."
It's about time that Majerus has reached basketball's Promised Land. After several years of difficulties off the court and injuries, he has compiled a team that has enough quality on the court to produce success.
"The first two years I'm just scrambled with what we have," Majerus said. "The third year we were 23 and I think something, 12 or whatever it was. But we were fourth in our league definitively, and into the conversation of the NCAA Tournament up until the last week losing right at the end to Temple and playing very well, I might add.
Now though, Majerus no longer has to worry about "what if?" or "This event messed us up".
For a man who lives in the 'here and now', his team finally gets its chance tomorrow evening.