How a hidden Billiken, meditation helped SLU women's basketball reach the NCAA tournament

How a hidden Billiken, meditation helped SLU girls’s basketball attain the NCAA match

The to-do guidelines at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware — web site of the 2023 Atlantic 10 Convention girls’s basketball match — began with discovering the hidden Billiken sealed inside a locker room wall.

The plastic mascot’s means to outlive the Delaware winter was the primary indication for the St. Louis College girls’s basketball group as as to whether the world harbored constructive vibes for the Atlantic 10 match.

The 115-year-old creature had been stuffed and taped behind a seam underneath a bench when the group practiced within the area throughout a highway journey earlier within the season. Some fast excavation work final week decided that it had been efficiently stashed for rescue.

“We had been simply searching for a chance to create pleasure and hope for the group,” SLU guard Peyton Kennedy stated. “It created a lot depth inside us. We wished to return and discover that Billiken for a championship. It was one thing to look ahead to and produce luck into the constructing.”

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This and different offbeat enterprises have been a part of the SLU season that may finish with the Billikens enjoying within the NCAA Match for the primary time within the 48-year historical past of this system.

Throughout a profitable keep in Delaware, the group discovered its treasure, shared notes written six months earlier about targets for the season, and skipped a last Xs and Os evaluate to meditate, a observe that began final spring.

Members of the St. Louis College girls’s basketball group calm down on the courtroom throughout a “mindfulness” session on the Atlantic 10 match, the place the Billikens certified for the NCAA Match. Picture courtesy St. Louis College

Coach Rebecca Tillett doesn’t declare the inspirational ways she makes use of as her personal, however she has been the guiding power behind the group’s turnaround. And don’t suppose for a minute that these items didn’t contribute to the match championship.

“I believe there are in all probability numerous issues they suppose I’m just a little loopy with,” Tillett stated. “The nice factor is that these concepts come from throughout, and we’re at all times searching for inspiration. Kyla (McMakin) and Julia (Martinez) had been the final ones to remain behind and ensure the Billiken was safe as a result of we had been like, ‘What if (somebody) finds it and throws it away?’ The nice information is the Billiken was there.”

The thought to cover the mascot got here from a ploy utilized by Doc Rivers in 2008 when as coach of the Celtics he collected $100 from every participant and hid it within the ceiling at Staples Heart. The reward got here when the Celtics retrieved the cash upon visiting the world for the NBA Finals

Tillett implements ways, tales, catchphrases — no matter she will be able to — to search for benefits. Redshirt freshman Isabel Tillett has heard and seen most of it rising up round her teaching mom. Now, she sees issues being put to make use of as a participant on her group.

SLU women's basketball plays SIUE in home opener

St. Louis College girls’s basketball head coach Rebecca Tillett coaches her group throughout their recreation towards Southern Illinois College Edwardsville on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Chaifetz Area. Picture by Jordan Opp,

“I don’t suppose a median coach can win two convention championships in a row,” she stated. “It’s a testomony to her character what she brings to our group. She has the power to inspire us at any given time, saying any little factor. In a timeout, she’ll say the precise proper factor to get us going.”

Earlier than a semifinal win over Rhode Island, gamers and coaches got the notes they wrote final yr about what they hoped to perform and a few learn these notes to the group. Rebecca Tillett’s phrases had been about to return true. She had written that she hoped to information the Billikens to success within the A-10 in her first season within the convention.

Then got here Sunday morning and an enormous choice. Tillett advised her workers they wanted to resolve between reviewing extra details about Massachusetts, SLU’s opponent within the A-10 last, or doing meditation.

Tillett began the observe of 10- to 12-minute periods of mindfulness throughout her tenure at Longwood. Most gamers lay on the courtroom whereas being talked by means of respiration workouts and “centering your thoughts in huge moments,” Tillett stated. She was satisfied to do meditation the morning of the championship recreation by assistant coach Tra’Dayja Smith, who performed for Tillett at Longwood.


St. Louis College’s Julia Martinez celebrates the Billikens’ Atlantic 10 match championship recreation win over Massachusetts on Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. Picture by Mitchell Leff, Atlantic 10

“It type of places you in a spot of peace and lets me mirror on what we’re right here to do,” stated Martinez, who was named excellent participant of the match. “Throughout certainly one of our timeouts (towards UMass), everybody was speaking and there was some extent the place coach Tillett stated, ‘Everybody take a deep breath.’ You could possibly see everybody (do it). A few seconds of calm in such an enormous second helps you to re-focus.”

As a result of the championship recreation was performed at midday Jap Time, the same old period of time was not obtainable for every part Tillett likes to perform. She is just not identified to skip shootarounds, whatever the time of a recreation. This time mindfulness took priority.

“In athletics, you’re searching for share good points,” Rebecca Tillett stated, “and if we expect one thing like that’s going to assist our gamers focus in probably the most intense recreation of the season, it is going to.”

SLU women's basketball plays SIUE in home opener

St. Louis College ahead Brooke Flowers appears to move the ball as she is being guarded by Southern Illinois College Edwardsville ahead Olivia Clayton throughout their recreation on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Chaifetz Area. 

SLU was on high of its recreation towards UMass, successful in extra time. As Tillett would say, the Billikens reached their boiling level of 212 levels, an analogy she likes to make use of for a way effectively the group has performed. She totally believes that the size of the championship recreation at 2 hours, 12 minutes was not a coincidence.

The Billikens will discover out Sunday night time their seeding and opponent. It is going to be the following problem in a season that didn’t look like headed on this path.

“We did exceed expectations however by no means put it out of hope,” Rebecca Tillett stated. “We by no means misplaced the thought or narrative that we might be probably the most harmful group within the (A-10) match.”

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