SPARTANBURG - On the night before the Southern Conference tournament championship game, Wofford junior guard Jamar Diggs was starting to feel the pressure.
He was nervous. He was uneasy. He was starting to panic.
Not about the game.
Diggs, a business economics major, was trying to reach one of his professors about missing class Monday. The title game wasn't going to be played until 9 p.m. in Charlotte, so Diggs wasn't sure if being stuck at the hotel with his teammates was a good enough excuse.
"He's kind of a tough guy," Diggs said. "He seems like the kind of guy who doesn't care if we are in the championship."
The Terriers won the championship Monday night and were back in their classes Tuesday morning. They practiced Thursday for the first time since as they concentrate more on academics. Preparation for the NCAA tournament is coming at the same time as midterms.
"There are no breaks here," Terriers coach Mike Young said. "There is no sense of entitlement at Wofford (where the average SAT score is 1,260). The players are expected to do what the regular students do. I think, because of that, they're accepted by the student body before they are recognized as basketball players.
"It goes hand-in-hand. I don't see it as an obstacle. I see it as a great thing. We know we need to get smart guys, or they're not going to make it here. So we get smart guys who can do the work and also help us win basketball games."
The players celebrated Monday night on national TV, but they quickly had to wipe the confetti from their backpacks and get to work.
"It's been kind of a blur," sophomore Brad Loesing said. "You have to bring yourself back to reality. After all that emotion, you have to be able to concentrate and focus. We're students first. We take that seriously. We know we have to get back on our game - our school game - just as much as we have been on our game on the court."
During the tournament, junior Noah Dahlman was thrown out of his pregame routine.
"I'm the type of player who likes to do nothing on game days," said Dahlman, a history major. "I just like to get my mind focused on the game. I turn on the TV, and I take a three-hour nap. It was really hard during the tournament, because we were doing homework and reading in the hotel. You can't focus on the game all the time."
Dahlman did OK, though. He was named most outstanding player of the tournament.
Spartanburg native Junior Salters is a finance major who will graduate in May. It's been a challenge to stay on track, he said, especially through a mid-February stretch in which Wofford played four straight road games, including long bus rides to Birmingham, Ala., and Statesboro, Ga.
"Oh, my gosh. I'm going to fail," Salters said. "Just kidding. But it's been pretty tough. The teachers are working with us. I don't think they are going to keep me from graduating. ... We're all good students. We'll be able to handle things and be in good shape before we go on our trip."
The trip to the first round of the NCAA tournament - destination unknown until Sunday - will come during an important week of school with mid-terms and projects.
"I don't know how that is going to work, but I know we will not be exempt from mid-terms. We might have to take them early," said junior Tim Johnson, an English major. "Our teachers have been understanding. They know we won't be there next week. But they expect every assignment to be completed. That's part of being a student-athlete. You have balance your class work with your athletic obligations."