During a three year stretch, I tried on the slipper as part of a team living the role of Cinderella while I was on staff at Rhode Island and Texas. Three consecutive years as a double-digit seed in the NCAA tournament with uniquely different teams that found ways to advance. Why were we successful and what commonalities did other successful underdogs have?
Is there a blueprint to take down Goliath? Here are the 10 commandments of the “Underdog.”
Rule 1: Thou Shall Be Self Confident:
“We Belong and We are Capable.”
You must believe you belong in the tournament and if we play as we are capable of playing we can and will advance.
Rule 2: Thou Shall Put All Faith In Thy Teammates and No One Else
“It's Us vs the World.” No one outside this locker room gives us a fighting chance - Let's go out and show the world. Complete buy-in and bonding of the entire team.
Rule 3: Thou Shall Block Out All Distractions
Concentrated Extreme Focus
Each man knows the game plan - what is required to win. They know their assignments, their opponent's tendencies and they are locked in.
Rule 4: Thou Shall Treat Every Possession As If It Is Our Last
Efficiency- no lost possessions due to mental mistakes. When your margin for error is slim, you must convert opportunities.
Rule 5: Thou Shall Lead
Every team must have a leader to conduct the orchestra. This player settles the squad, sets the pulse of the team and sometimes gets in a teammate's face and commands focus.
Rule 6: Thou Shall Hold Nothing Back
Leave It All on the Floor
Everyone is- "All-In". Willing and immersing every ounce of effort to the cause until nothing is left in the tank.
Rule 7:Thou Shall Not Succumb To Pressure
Be Loose-Play Loose
Control the adrenaline and use the pressure to your advantage. Don't let the pressure control you where you subconsciously play not to lose. Doing what you do best is how you win.
Rule 8: The Messiah Will Come and He Will Lead Us To The Promised Land
When the game is on the line, you must have a guy that has the unwavering confidence to make the game-winning play. The entire team believes in him and they get him the basketball. When it's all going down and players aren't sure about themselves - they know they can put faith in him and he'll deliver.
Rule 9: Thou Shall Honor Thy Coach:
Play Our Tempo and Only Our Tempo
Taking teams out of their comfort zone and forcing them to play with you -how you play best- is a great recipe for success.
Rule 10: Thou Shall Steal (The Game)
You must take the game, it will not be given to you. You must be tough, confident and assertive.
Who Fits the Description?
Winners of seven in a row and 11 of their last 12, Richmond has received very little respect from the committee by receiving a 12 seed despite 27 wins and victories over Purdue, VCU and Temple. A 13-3 mark in a balanced and strong Atlantic 10 - a forgotten league nationally this year with the Big East and Mountain West receiving most of the attention.
Their Princeton Offense is extremely difficult to prepare for.
Richmond is led by three seniors that can really shoot the basketball (all over 40% from three) Dan Geriot, Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper, the latter two are extremely talented offensive weapons and players who will play professionally either in the NBA or abroad.
When in doubt - Give Kevin Anderson the ball, he has the ability to beat the opponent in many ways and is in the conversation of the best guards in America.
Areas of Attention:
Rebounding - With skilled posts who face the basket and are comfortable shooting from behind the arc, Richmond is vulnerable on the glass.
Assist to Turnover Ratio. Richmond has no player averaging more four assists per game which is alarming considering they are averaging double digit turnovers for the season.
Coach Chris Mooney is a hot name in the coaching profession. He is talented and poised to have this senior led team make a deep run.
Leigh Klein is the owner of Five-Star Basketball Camps, which Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant all attended in high school. Klein and has overseen the development of more than 100 players in this year's NCAA tournament. Check Metro daily during March Madness for more of his ramblings.
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