Tacko Fall, mother reunited before final home game
Thursday will be a special night for Tacko Fall.
It's not only his final UCF home game, but it will also be the first time his mother will see him play.
Fall left his home country of Senegal at the age of 16 to pursue a better future for himself in the United States. It had been nearly seven years since mother and son have been together before they reunited earlier this week.
A day before No. 25 UCF hosts No. 20 Cincinnati, Fall talked about what this week means to him.
Has it finally hit you that you're about to play your final home game?
"I said that a couple days ago. Even last game, I was thinking during the National Anthem that this is it. It's going to be the last couple games at UCF. This is going to be my last one. It's been quite the journey. I'm glad it worked out the way it did. I'm ready to finish strong."
Is your mom coming?
What does that mean to you to have your mom here?
"It means a lot. I haven't seen her for seven years. She's never seen me play before. Her and my brother are here, both of them. We haven't been together for so long. It felt like I was dreaming. She's been my greatest supporter and I'm ready to play in front of her finally."
Almost seven years. What was that reunion like not seeing her for that long?
"It was very emotional. Emotional on her part. I guess she didn't expect to see me like this because when I left I was a lot younger, a lot shorter and a lot skinnier. She's loving it here. I don't think she wants to go back yet, but hopefully we can get here more often now."
How often would you communicate with your mom back home?
"Every day. I'm a mama's boy."
When was the reunion?
"It was the day after we came back from Houston. Sunday."
She's been in Senegal?
"She's been in Senegal the entire time."
Was she able to follow your games? Maybe watch them on online?
"She follows the UCF Basketball page on Youtube, so he could see a couple highlights but she's never seen a game. Even on the internet. She was never able to watch a full game. She'll be finally able to watch us play and watch us get the dub tomorrow."
What do you think it will be like for her to watch you play?
"I just hope there won't be a lot of fouling and hacking because she will get on the court. I know that because that's just how she is. I don't know. I guess we'll see."
That's got to make you excited for you to play in front of her?
"I'm very excited."
What does it mean to be playing meaningful basketball late in your senior year coming off a big win against Houston and another huge game against Cincinnati? Two ranked teams playing for the first time in this building.
"It feels good. We're always trying to go by that one-game mentality. No matter who we're playing against. Houston, Cincinnati, SMU. It's just another game to go take care of business. We know what we have to do. We're trying to win a championship and we want to take care of business every time we step on the floor."
That was one of your goals when you signed with UCF, to play in games like this?
"Absolutely. It's coming true. It says a lot about us, about our guys, about how much work we've put in. God has put us in a great position right now to take care of business. We have to take advantage of it."
How well do you think you guys are playing right now?
"I feel great. There's always improvements. You can't get satisfied. You've got to play with the same intensity. Obviously it's going to be a lot of noise when success comes, but you've got to stay locked in. Just keep doing what we're doing."
What has it meant for you to play with your fellow seniors? Guys like B.J.
"B.J., Chad. We've been through it all... We've seen everything. From a coaching change to just how much the program has evolved in these past three years. For us, it's an honor to have been a part of it."
There's still memories to be made the rest of the season, but looking back on your four years here, what are some of your favorite moments in your UCF career?
"I was thinking about that first game here at UCF. My first game against UC Irvine. I'll never forget that game. I had nerves, but I pulled it off. That game will always stick with me. And that NIT game when we had Matt (Williams) and them during Coach Dawkins' first year. That was a great year also. That first game, I'll never forget that one."
Has it gone by quick?
"It has. B.J. and I were just talking about it. It felt like it was yesterday. They tell you about it when you get to college that it goes by fast, but you don't realize it until it's almost over."
It seems like you've emerged in this last half of the season. Has something clicked or do you feel a sense of urgency that it's coming to an end?
"I don't think it's a sense or urgency. It's just me going out there and knowing what I'm capable of. There's nobody that can stop me. The team has put me in greater positions to utilize my gift. I'm trying to do whatever I can to help the team just go out there and have fun. At the end of the day, it's a game. It's supposed to be fun. We have all the tools we need to have fun and win games."
You saw the kind of atmosphere that Cincinnati had at their place a couple weeks ago and what Houston had on Saturday. How much do you want to see that kind of atmosphere in here tomorrow night?
"It's huge. With everything the guys have sacrificed for this team, it would feel great to see all the fans come out and support us in our final game at CFE."