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News Feed - January 13, 2009

American can expect a lot more games like Saturday’s contest against Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks, tabbed by preseason voters as the team most likely to prevent the Eagles from defending their title, pushed American to overtime at Bender Arena before the Eagles pulled away for a 76-66 victory. The gritty win was a good test for American, which undoubtedly will find every opponent playing its best game against the Eagles this season.

“There’s definitely a target on our backs,” senior guard Frank Borden said. “It’s something that’s going to be with us all season. We just need to step up and play like defending champs.”

Borden said the players’ approach hasn’t changed from a year ago when they were trying to take American to its first NCAA tournament.

“It’s pretty much the same,” he said. “We know we accomplished something last year, and now we just want to focus on this year.”

One of the biggest pitfalls facing defending champions is complacency. American Coach Jeff Jones has tried to prevent his players from being infected by a false sense of contentment by constantly reminding them what it took to reach their goal.

“We’ve talked about that as a team,” he said. “There’s been people that have asked: ‘Last year you were the hunter, this year the hunted.’ We have to be the hunter. That has to be our mindset because we have a chance to be a good team, if we have that mindset. If we’re thinking about anything other than going out and being hungry and doing the extra things and trying to play harder than the opponent then we’re not going to be very successful.

“Other people look at us different. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot. That’s why we need to make sure that we’re ready to go and we have no letdowns.”

By Kathy Orton  |  January 13, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
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I am so proud of these young men and am grateful that I can watch/listen to their games and follow their progress!

Coach Jones is keeping them reigned in mentally and supporting their personal attributes on the court. His knowledge of his players is key to getting the best out of them.

As for the players themselves, they need to remember what it took to get where they did last year and double the effort because other teams will bring their best to topple them. If they keep their collective mindset, stay healthy and focused, and play like it's the last game of their last year everytime, the rewards will be great and the regrets non-existant! GO AMERICAN!!! (yeah Frank!)

~WHOOPING IT UP FROM OREGON

Posted by: shall69427 | January 14, 2009 1:53 PM

Love that post from Oregon. Looks like more of us should catch onto what AU is doing. Smart coach, smart team, good results. Sounds like a winning formula

Posted by: Hoops44 | January 14, 2009 2:27 PM

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