SYRACUSE — All those people who doubt the Titans should probably know better by now.
"It pumps me up when you hear people say things like, 'You guys aren't that good' or 'You're overrated,'" said sophomore post player Brittany Martin after the top-ranked Titans defeated Bingham 54-41 on Wednesday night. "I don't think it bothers me a lot."
It does, however, make the young Titans feel they still have a lot to prove. Which is why playing an established, perennial power like Bingham is something they look forward to doing.
"They're a good team," she said. "They work hard; they work together. We're excited to play a team like this."
It may not make a difference in the region standings, but it certainly counts in the effort to improve.
"I think it counts big time," she said. "We're still trying to prove stuff. We really just go out there and play hard."
That sentiment is what Syracuse head coach Rob Reisbeck hopes to keep in the hearts and minds of his players.
"It doesn't matter who we're playing," said Reisbeck. "We approach every game as if it's a state championship game. We just want to go out and give it our best effort."
He keeps them focused on the task at hand, and if that's not enough, he reminds of one harsh reality.
"We have the tendency to keep reminding them that we haven't done anything yet," he added. "We just want to play hard, keep improving, and if we're lucky enough to play for a state championship, we'll talk about it then."
The Titans are one of the state's most prolific scoring offenses. On Wednesday, they were led by Martin, who finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Teammates Jen Hazlett and Hailee Parry added 11 points each to make them a difficult team to defend.
Reisbeck said he went to great effort to schedule Bingham because he knows the kind of toughness and effort the Miners bring to the court.
"I love playing Bingham," he said with smile. "You know what you're going to get — hard-nosed defense."
Reisbeck said it is fun to watch the girls who started the Titans' program when the school opened three years ago playing so well this season.22 comments on this story
"This is our third year and they've built this program," he said. "They've put in the time. They just keep raising the bar every day."
In addition to the distraction of nay-sayers and those with lofty expectations, Martin has the added pressure of having college coaches watch her games.
"I don't really care who is watching," she said, adding that she is enjoying the recruiting process. "I like them to come watch. I just go out and play my best."