March 4, 2011
By John Heisler
Growing up with two older brothers, we did almost everything together. Greg was the oldest, and we were always very competitive around the house in anything we did. Tyler and I had the opportunity to play on the same high school basketball team, and that’s probably been my favorite team, up there with our Notre Dame team this year. It’s been a blast growing up in our family.
It wasn’t just in sports, it was anything around the house. It was being the first one to get ice cream at Dairy Queen or TCBY. We always wanted to beat each other.
Mississippi State was the first big school that offered me a scholarship. I was a young high schooler whose game was about to elevate to a new level. I jumped on the train and thought that was the best train I could get on back then. My game continued to improve to another level and then another level. And I realized Mississippi State didn’t match what I was about as a player and as a person.
I knew what I really wanted. Something where I could be a part of a team for the rest of my life. When I came to Notre Dame, I felt it. I knew this was what it was all about. I didn’t even visit another school.
When I talk to my brothers, we don’t really talk a lot about basketball. Tyler will call and congratulate me on the season, but we don’t really break down details of the game. Every time we talk, it’s more catching up, seeing how we’re doing. Basketball is such a big part of your life, but when you get around your brothers, basketball seems to fade out.
I went to Detroit for the Final Four. I was really focused on enjoying the moment and watching Tyler win his national championship with Carolina. It was being happy for him and cherishing the moment.
My personal workout has changed a little. I’ve changed up my game shots. I’ve added stuff, taken stuff out. The concept is the dedication of the routine every day. It’s about an hour every day. I’ll change it based on whether we played a game yesterday or three days ago. But the drills I do really are mostly the same.
The year after I transferred, when I was sitting out, I spent a lot of time in the gym by myself, just shooting. The biggest difference this year is how I’ve prepared mentally. I had the work ethic and the physical part of it is one thing. This year it’s about the mental strength I’ve had to prepare and help this team prepare. It’s about focus. That’s the difference.
With our team this year, it’s all about one concept. It’s about everybody believing and buying into the system. If you expect things of yourselves, you can go out there and achieve things. We’ve had a great focus and mindset when it comes to that all year.
I love finding people with the ball. I love other people hitting shots. I love it when other people are playing well. It’s always fun to get other people going.
I don’t care what position I’m playing. I just go out and play. Coach (Mike) Brey has done a great job of molding me from more of a two guard to more of a point guard and teaching me how to run a team. He’s been really good with kind of shaping me as a point guard.
When there’s time, I hang out with friends and listen to music. I like to eat fish, chicken, a lot of things. I like good food. I really enjoy just hanging out with my friends. I watch a lot of NBA. I watch a little college. I don’t watch a lot of other college basketball. I have my NBA team and I’m a fan.
The BIG EAST is fun, but it’s one of those things where we’re just so focused. It’s a feeling of just being really, really focused. When we get done with this ride, we’ll look back on it and think, man, that was fun.
But the ride’s still going on. We can’t say it was fun yet — because it’s not over. We have to continue to stay focused and push ourselves.
I used to very superstitious. But when it’s all said and done, you can’t allow your mind to be so weak that you feel like the way you put on your socks is going to change the way you play. Once you start to do that, it becomes all about how you put on your socks. Then it becomes the way you open your car door or the way you start your car. That can drive you crazy.
I want the only thing that affects my performance to be the way I prepare mentally and physically.
— ND —