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'It all starts with believing'

'Most Excitin' Titan' Rashad Phillips offers advice on how to win in the NCAA tournament

VN Editor-In-Chief

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 01:03

 

Rashad Phillips, the Titans’ all-time leading scorer and a member of the last Detroit team to make it to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, has some advice for this year’s players.

“Just continue to do what you have been doing,” he said.

Phillips knows what it takes to win.

“It all starts with believing in yourself and your team,” Phillips said. “If you do that, that’s half the battle and there is no telling what you can accomplish.”

There’s one similarity between the ’99 team and this year’s squad: the dominant play of a guard who wears No. 3.

In 1999, Phillips averaged 15.7 points per game. This time, it’s sophomore guard Ray McCallum averaging 15.6.

Both players led their respective teams in scoring in the tournament.

But Phillips knows the amount of points wasn’t the only factor making the ’99 team a success.

“It all started in October, when you first start training and practicing,” Phillips said. “Not only do you as an individual have to believe but the other players and coaches and everyone involved has to as well.”

In 1999, the team was 25-6 at the end of the season, but posted a 1-1 record in the NCAA tournament, beating UCLA in a first-round game.

“We won because we did nothing different once the tournament came around,” Phillips said. “We went into the UCLA game believing that we were going to win. If you don’t have that mindset, then you’re going to have a tough time winning.”

The 2012 Detroit Titans proved they believed at the right time of the year, winning 13 of their last 15 games.

The NCAA tourney is going to be a new experience for the team but Phillips is confident in the Titans.

“They have been playing great on the defensive side of the ball and they are gelling as one unit,” he said. “If everyone just keeps doing their jobs and keep playing hard defensively, you can’t ask for more.”

The Titans will end up playing a high-seeded team, just as the ’99 team did.

Though Phillips’ Titans faced UCLA, they didn’t view themselves as a Cinderella team.

“I don’t see our win as an upset,” he said. “An upset is when you don’t believe you can win and you somehow win. That wasn’t the case in ’99. We knew and believed we could win and because of that we did win.”

As for other similarities between the ’99 and ’12 teams, Phillips thinks there is one.

“It’s hard to compare the two teams,” Phillips said. “But one thing I do see is the intensity on defense. They have to continue to play defense at a high level.”

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