Once, at the end of a hellacious, close, hard-fought game against archrival North Carolina, Coach K knelt down in our tense, pressure-packed huddle. I think we all expected a fiery statement from him, loud and with veins popping out of his neck, on the raw intensity and toughness we needed to finish this game and win it.
Instead, Coach K surprised us. He looked right at us, smiled and said, "Isn't this fun?"
His message was clear, and it had a relaxing effect in such a frenzied, tense and pressure-filled environment: This is important and we have a job to do, so play your ass off and play to win. He was reminding us to embrace and enjoy the richness of the experience and to savor the journey, in both peaks and valleys. This is a game that is supposed to be fun. So let's make it fun.
Having fun is doing hard things well.
When I look back, none of my fondest memories are of easy games. They are of the tough games, the games and practices when we had to lay it on the line, and things were the toughest.
From "Toughness" by Jay Bilas