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Friday, March 18, 2011
Communication key to handling NCAA hype

Skylar Diggins, a sophomore All-America point guard for the nationally ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team, is blogging about her NCAA tournament experience for espnW.

Life is all about growth. When you experience things, sometimes you may make mistakes or do some things well, or both. Regardless, there will be an outcome. Whether that outcome is negative or positive, you will have an opportunity to reflect. Take note of the positive things or things that you did well. Then reflect on your mistakes. If you learn from these mistakes and do not make the same ones, you have grown.

I had to learn this in my freshman year of college.

With the start of the tournament near, I can remember emotions that I felt last year -- nervous, anxious, excited -- things that a freshman is supposed to feel. It was my first NCAA tournament. I had anticipated this moment, dreamed of being here. Little did I know, it was going to be much more than what I had expected.

No one really told me about all the pressure, hype and expectations that came with being on a good team in the NCAA, or how to handle it. However, no one can really TELL you about these kinds of things. A player has to go through these experiences for themselves. There were a couple things that helped me handle it all.

First, I communicated with my teammates and coaches. Communication helps everyone stay on the same page and builds confidence in one another. This took some of the pressure off of me. Next, I tried my best to stay away from blogs, articles or anything talking about my team and me in regards to expectations. I just wanted to play ball and let our game speak for itself. Paying attention to any predictions, outcomes or opinions (outside of our coaching staff) was irrelevant. This helped me focus more on my game and the needs of my team. Finally, I talked to my parents. Personally, this really helped me a lot. It brought me to a very comfortable and familiar place, one with no hype or pressure.

Although my teammates and I did not get the outcome that we wanted last year, I know that we each took a lot from that tournament. I know I did. My job this year is to make sure that I do not make those same mistakes, and, here in Salt Lake City for the first and second rounds of NCAAs, I have the opportunity to show how much I've grown.