For Seton Hall Assistant Coach Grant Billmeier, NCAA Tournament Filled With Memories
In 2004 and 2006, now Seton Hall assistant coach Grant Billmeier was in the same position as the young Pirates team is today, trying to prepare and stay focused for the mecca of college basketball, the NCAA Tournament.
“Obviously there is a lot of hoopla around us after just winning the Big East Tournament,” Billmeier said in the Pirates locker room before the teams practice on Wednesday. “But once the game starts tomorrow it is just like any other game. It’s 40 minutes and we have to try and find a way to get a win.”
Billmeier, who is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Hall was a two-time captain with Pirates from 2003-07, leading them to two NCAA Tournaments in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, his Pirates team defeated No. 9 Arizona 80-76, in a game he called his greatest memory playing in the dance.
“They were a terrific team,” Billmeier remembered. “They had four NBA players and a Hall of Fame Coach. The feeling of being down 14 to such a terrific team like that with Andre Iguodala (current Golden State Warrior and 2015 NBA Finals MVP) being one of those four NBA players, and finding a way to win that game was something special.”
On Thursday, Billmeier will be on the floor at another NCAA Tournament game, but this one will be a little different.
“It’s different being on this side of things,” Billmeier explained. “As a player you just get to go out there and play. As a coach you have to stay out as a staff and watch a ton of hours of film and go over the game plan. As a player you kind of just lace them up and do what your coaches tell you, stick to that game plan and find a way to get a win.”
Billmeier is happy to be back in the dance and understands how special it really is.
“It’s just great. It’s a great accomplishment for everything you worked for all year. To be one of the 68 teams still playing in the main tournament with the chance to continue to play on you know that’s your goal every year to win a National Championship. It’s a great feeling.”
On Thursday night in Denver, the Pirates will look to stick to their game plan, the one Billmeier helped create, as they take take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs at 9:57 p.m. E.T.