“That’s been our lives the last three years,” Alice said.
And lately, life has been particularly good.
Alice and Michael made the 303-mile drive from Knoxville to Dayton, Ohio, for Tennessee’s play-in game against Iowa last Wednesday. Josh drew the big defensive assignment, as he usually does, and held the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer, Roy Devyn Marble, to only seven points and 3-of-15 shooting. But Josh made a big contribution on the offensive end, too. With the Vols struggling — they trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half — Josh took over in the second half. He scored all of his 17 points after halftime.
“We were having a slow period in the game,” Richardson said earlier this week via telephone from his apartment in Knoxville. “We were having a tough time finding the bucket. I started finding lanes in the defense and taking advantage.
“The next two games, I just carried that aggressiveness on with me.”
Did he ever.
He was 5-of-7 for 15 points against UMass, then 9-of-13 for those career-high 26 points against Mercer. Sure, the Vols have yet to face a test in the tournament like they will Friday against No. 2 seed Michigan — Iowa was a bubble team, UMass was overseeded and Mercer was a Cinderella whose losses this season included South Carolina Upstate and North Florida — but Tennessee has survived where others have not.
And it’s not like Tennessee isn’t capable; it handed top-seeded Virginia its worst loss of the season, a 35-point drubbing.
Alice and Michael have relished seeing the team come together these past few weeks. When the players came out of the locker room after Sunday’s win in Raleigh, the Richardsons were there to hug as many necks as possible.
“We try to really extend ourselves because we know so many of the other parents don’t get to go to all the games,” Alice said. “We really try to be team parents.”
Alice and Michael hung around and loved on the players until they left. The Richardsons had planned to make the 360-mile drive back to Knoxville after the game, but after all the excitement, they were exhausted and stayed another night.
They were back in Knoxville on Monday, doing laundry, getting ready to re-pack their suitcases and load up their Chevy Malibu for the 357-mile trip to Indianapolis for the regional semifinal.
Even though they have put over 60,000 miles on that car in less than three years, they hope to add several hundred more before the NCAA Tournament is over.
As long as Josh and the Vols keep rolling, the Richardsons will keep rolling, too.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.