The Bulls came onto the court in pink shirts in support of the theme of the game, but that didn't mean they came out and played like girls. The opening possession consisted of Watt trying to take his man off the dribble, got rejected, leading to a 3 point play at the other end. I'm not gonna lie, the first thing I thought was, "Here we go again" but the Bulls did the exact opposite of lay down and die. 14 unanswered points up until the 12.25 mark gave the crowd and the rest of the team an authoritative feeling of confidence, pushing the Bulls to hold Kent St to 19 points in the first half. Kent St did miss a good amount of free throws in that first half, but were rushed into a handful of travels and unwanted turnovers. I don't think that was the best half of basketball that the Bulls have played all year, but to me there is no doubt that they felt the most confident after that half.
As a fan at the game, from the 14-3 mark on, I didn't feel like there was anyway the Bulls could lose the game. It was almost like watching your favorite game on espn classic. You knew exactly who was going to win, you just keep watching it because you want to enjoy the ride. To me that game is the 07 Fiesta Bowl between Boise St and Oklahoma. Whenever its on tv I have to watch every second of it, knowing what the outcome is going to be, and getting just as excited every time I see the ending. Whoever thought that real life feeling would come against the best team in the conference.
Several friends of mine were watching the game, and continuously texting me during it. All of these friends were big college basketball fans for their respected schools (Syracuse, Hofstra, and St Johns). Every single one of them were impressed when they watched our school on tv, and all thought we looked like a really strong mid-major team. Two of them texted me "How do you guys have 5 conference losses this year?" showing how they thought that we were clearly better than any team in the conference.
Clearly the Bulls have the talent, and can beat any team in the conference on any given day, the key is 3 of those days coming consecutively. If you make a list of what you want a team to have going into the conference tourney, I'm sure the list would look something like this...
1. Playing their best the last few weeks of the season
2. Confidence that they can beat any team
3. Senior leadership
check X 6 (not 7 since Mulkey is redshirting)
4. Conference tourney experience + extra motivation to win it
check (a senior latent team who lost in the conference championship the year before, I think that fits)
so if you look at the Bulls that way, then why not this year being the year?
I specifically remember standing next the Basketball team during the #1 Akron vs Buffalo soccer game this year. As expected, the crowds were going back and forth at one another, Football and Basketball being used to insult one another. I turned to Rodney Pierce and said "I'm sure it sucks for you to hear about last years basketball season since they had your number. Think you can pull it off this year?"
Rodney smiled, turned towards me, and with a cocky feeling of confidence said, "Yes sir. We're taking care of business this year, don't you worry..."