Rahim Lockhart Diary

March 7, 2000

"My teammates and I are excited about the SEC Tournament this weekend. We have made a lot of sacrifices this entire season, and we are hoping to all our hard work will pay off this weekend in Atlanta. The team is really focused.

"This is the time we need to get hot as a team. During the regular season, we never really got on a roll, but we know this is the time. In the last two or three games of the season, I can see the improvements we have made as a team. We have a lot of potential, but we need to play with the desire and effort that we are capable of to make a tournament run. If we do play with the desire and effort that this program was built on, then there is nothing we can't accomplish.

"We are looking forward to playing Florida on Thursday. I think it is going to be a tremendous game. If we can win that game, then we will play Auburn in the second round. The Ole Miss-Auburn contest always seems to be a good game.

"We know that we have a shot at getting things done at the tournament. I think that the loss to LSU put us in the SEC Tournament bracket which gives us a chance to play teams that match our style of play. We play Florida in the first round, and we played them tough earlier this year. If we can get past Florida, then we play Auburn. We have confidence that we can beat Auburn since we did beat them at home and then played them down to the wire at Auburn. I believe things happen for a reason, and I think we can surprise some people.

"I look at the teams that won the title this year and our team and how little difference there is. There is very little difference between us and the teams which won titles. Next year, I believe we can win a championship, and I think we can make a run this weekend in Atlanta. If someone would have told me before the season that all we had to do was win four games to make the NCAA Tournament, then I would take that challenge. That's the challenge ahead of us this weekend, and I believe we can do it.

"I'm looking for something big to happen this weekend for us. This is my third year to play in the tournament in Atlanta, and I'm looking forward to some great things. The biggest thing I want to do different this year is to play till Sunday (in the championship game). Atlanta is a great city, and does an excellent job of hosting the tournament. The Georgia Dome is a great atmosphere for the tournament with all the teams and all the fans. It's a good time to get the know some of the other teams' players off the court. Some of the teams stay in the same hotel so that gives us an opportunity to talk away from the court.

"There are players on the others teams in this league who are good guys. I know several of the players at Auburn, and they are class guys in the way they approach the game. They work hard and play hard without being flamboyant. They just get the job done. They have some great individuals on that team. LSU has some great guys who play basketball in a business-like manner, but still have fun. Kentucky is always a class act, and their players are good examples of that. There are some great players and coaches in this league, but what many fans may not know, is that they are also good people. That is why the SEC is the best basketball conference in the country."

(On the team's close losses)
"We've had a lot of close losses this season, and it made me realize how basketball is just a game of inches. When we went 11-5 in the SEC my freshman year, we could have easily had an 8-8 conference record. It was just a few plays separating us from having a mediocre record. This year is the same, but reversed. We could have had a 9-7 record in the SEC. There's a handful of games like at Arkansas, at Auburn and the home games versus Florida and Mississippi State that we can look back on, and if we could have given a little more effort, then we would have a better conference record. But, this also shows how close we are to those teams. We have talented players and great coaches, but we just fell short a couple of games.

"I realize this may not sound right, but even in some of the losses, I see some victories that we won as a team. I think the final score doesn't always indicate the true outcome. If you play your heart out like we did at Auburn (75-72 loss), we may have lost the game on the scoreboard, but I feel like we won the game in other ways. On the other hand, if we win a game in which we didn't play hard, my feeling is we lost because we didn't give our full effort. When we play hard and tough like we did at LSU, those games are wins as far as the effort is concerned. If we can keep winning the effort battles, eventually we will see good things come."

(Thoughts on this year's Senior Night and my upcoming senior year)
"Marcus and Lataryl are tremendous players and tremendous people. It's been a pleasure to play with both of them, and I am thankful I had the opportunity. I have truly been blessed with all the seniors I have played with like Ansu, Joezon and Anthony my freshman year and Keith, Hunter, Michael and Jason last season. I have learned a lot from all of them.

"I've learned that, as a senior, you have to take charge. Marcus and Lataryl did a good job of taking charge of this team. I want to do that next year, so I won't have any regrets when my senior season comes to an end. I've really enjoyed my experience as a part of the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program, and I want my senior year to be even better.

"When I was watching Marcus and Lataryl walk on the court on Senior Night, I was thinking about next year being my final season to wear the Rebel uniform. It will be my last time to do preseason workouts, my last time to run on the track in preseason drills. It seems like yesterday that I began my Ole Miss career, and next year will be my senior season. I've been blessed."

 

 

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