My first season of big-time college basketball was tough for me mentally, physically, spiritually — everything — just because of the struggles I went through personally and with the team.
But as a person of faith, I believe everything happens for a reason and our path in this life was mapped out long ago. It’s our daily challenge to take each moment that we’re given and find a way to appreciate it, even if it seems miserable at the time.
Last season was definitely a challenging one for everyone in the Wisconsin family, players, coaches and our amazing fans alike.
We had some major injuries, especially in our backcourt.
Of our 18 losses, eight came by five points or less.
We wound up with a losing record for the first time since 1997-98 — I wasn’t even born yet — ending our program-record streak of NCAA tournament appearances at 19.
That is not acceptable.
But I have absolutely no doubt that the adversity we faced last season will make us better in the coming one and beyond.
When I look at the journal and read through it, I’m going to remember the process and how hard it was for me to get through last season. I’m not going to take another game for granted.
There was a time at the end of January where the coaches gave me some time off. I was in a mental rut because I really didn’t see a finish line. I was banned from the gym unless it was practice. I spent a lot of time in the training room doing my shoulder exercises. I was in the pool a lot, too, running to keep my legs strong.
I spent more time in the training room this year than I ever want to again, but I think it was a blessing in disguise because I got to become so close with Henry. It was an hour-and-a-half before every practice. An hour after every practice. It was an hour-and-a-half before every shoot-around. It was an hour before every game. It was an hour after every game.
We spent so much time together, whether it was ultrasounds, icing, stretching, rehabs or just talking because it was an emotionally draining process. There were a lot of times when I needed guidance, I needed strength, and he was kind of my backbone throughout the season. He’s a blessing for this program in more ways than one.