A year ago I was inside the Nevada locker room at the Huntsman Center in Utah as Nevada was about to practice for their opening round game against Montana. The locker room was silent, players looked sleepy and emotionless, and they were less than 24 hours from their first round game. In contrast, the Montana locker room was full of life and the players were anxiously awaiting tip-off. Sure enough Montana pulled the upset and sent Nevada home for the season.
This year I found myself once again inside the locker room the day before the big game. This time around the Pack players looked excited and they appeared eager to hit the floor at the New Orleans Arena. I think emotions play a big role in the NCAA Tournament. Teams that get up off the bench and wave their towels seem to ignite their squad and propel them to victory.
I think Nevada lacked that much needed emotion last year and after one day of practice down here in New Orleans I can already see a big change. Smiles, some laughter, and an obvious desire to avoid a first round upset.