By: Nick Sherod, Spider Basketball freshman
November 11, 2016. Richmond vs. VMI. My first collegiate basketball game.
The first thing I thought about when I woke up was when I’d have time to go put shots up. My biggest fear is not being prepared enough. I try to be as early as possible as I can for everything I do.
I had a radio interview first thing in the morning at the court and I brought my scouting report to study before I went on. My mind was just focused on my assignments and on what VMI was trying to do.
I’ve been doing the same shooting routine since eighth grade and went through it again in the morning after study hall since I don’t have class on Friday. I know that routine gets my body prepared for what I have to do.
But throughout most of the day, I really didn’t try to dwell on the game too much. Before our two preseason scrimmages, I actually got pretty nervous because I knew that I was starting. For this one, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to start. So I tried to treat it like I was coming off the bench just to keep my nerves in check. I was just trying to be in a calm mindset where all I was doing was playing basketball.
We came out on the court around 5:45 p.m. for our initial warm up. Everything felt good getting loose and going through the stretching and shooting drills that we had learned to do.
When we went back in the locker room with like 35 minutes on the clock, I saw my name on the board. I knew this was it. I was starting.
My initial reaction wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I was going to be. There was a calmness right then.
My expectations for this year weren’t to come in and be a starter and be a star. I think too many freshman at other schools expect that these days, instead of working to get better and waiting their turn. They want everything immediately and forget about what comes in between.
I would have been completely fine with not playing a minute. Or playing the whole game. But I was going to be prepared no matter what.
It was so crazy when the horn sounded and the lights went off and I was sitting on the bench. Just last year, I was visiting games and sitting behind the bench and watching the whole thing. From the awesome intro video to the guys’ faces on the boards, I just thought it was the coolest thing.
And now I’m sitting there and I’m the second one hearing my name called. Literally right before that, I leaned over to Khwan to ask him what to do. I had no idea where I supposed to go.
I kind of got the chills going through that line. Not a lot of freshman get to say they started or even played in their first college game.
[Sherod was the first true freshman to start for Richmond in the season opener since the 2006-07 season]
The first play of the game was a play where I had to dribble the ball and make a move and I was literally checking my hands to make sure they were dry enough to dribble it.
On the next possession, T.J. had the ball and they doubled him. He’s been really getting on me about making sure I cut when he has it. So I cut and he made a really tough pass to me and I caught it. And I’m thinking ‘ah shoot.’ I was really close to the basket, there’s no turning back now. When I went up, I thought I got fouled and thought I might miss my first shot. But it went in and I just thought, ‘OK, I’ll take it. Let’s go.’
I didn’t really have my best night shooting, but Coach Mooney always preaches that it’s not about what the program can do for you, but what you do for the program. And I knew we have to get defensive stops to win games this year. And I just went after every rebound and every loose ball.
[Sherod led both teams with a game-high nine rebounds]
Coach has said we have to be tough, we have to be tough. For me, getting rebounds is all about toughness. We’re not the biggest team in the world, so I know I have to go be scrappy on the boards and be in the middle of everything. I was lucky enough to get some rebounds as a result.
So much was built toward Friday night. With our trip to Europe and all of the practices, it’s seemed like we’ve focused on the first game for so long. But now we have to move on fast. We had another hard practice today and a game on Monday night against a really good team.
I’m seeing quickly how different college basketball already is. It’s not like high school where you get up for a few big games a year. Up here, every night is big. Every new opponent is really good. And I’m setting my mind on Old Dominion now.
My first college basketball game was a whirlwind. But it also helped me focus on all the great things to come with this program.
One down. On to the next one.