Friday, October 2, 2009

Moiën Luxembourg!

In what has been a long off-season with its ups and its downs, I have found myself playing for a new team in Luxembourg called the Musel Pikes. I have been here for almost 2 months already which seems crazy because the time has really flown by. In these two months, I have gotten situated with my new home, gotten lost in the beautiful country that is Luxembourg, been on the wrong end of a few team jokes, brushed up on some of my French, and have met some really cool people.

On the Basketball court my new teammates and I have really come together and are looking to start the season off on the right foot this weekend. We start the season Saturday against the team BBC Nitia from Bettemburg Luxembourg. I absolutely can't wait to begin the season as it has been quite some time since our team has played an exhibition game together (about 3 weeks!). In that time, we have been practicing and making great strides in the right direction but it's time to show what we can do when it matters most!

I'd like to give a shout-out to my former team in Iserlohn who is currently 4-0 in their young season and looking very good via the highlights put together by Olaf's Dad. I appreciate the effort to put these together and I'm glad to see they are doing well.

I'd also like to thank all the young coaching staff at Amherst College for putting together the beautiful youtube site where some of my greatest memories are only a click or two away.

As always, I appreciate all types of feedback (good, bad, or ugly) from my posts and of course my door is always open to all.

I'm going to leave you with this unbelievable video because with such a huge weekend coming up that includes our first Musel Pikes Basketball game of the season, a HUGE Michigan vs. Michigan State football game, and the Detroit Tigers fighting to make the playoffs, it's about that time to get all fired up!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Catch an oop, Get the Scoop!

On the last day of February we played against BBV Hagen for the second time this season. This time, we were at home and in front of a copious crowd. Of course BBV Hagen is where my fellow 08' teammate Andrew plays for and a team full of familiar faces and friends of mine. Unlike the first meeting with BBV Hagen, this time there was not as much on the line as both of us pretty much know now where we will finish in the final league standings. Of course both teams wanted to win, but it was a less cutthroat than our last game against Leverkusen by a mile. We controlled most of the game until Andrew decided he would be his usual self. He finished with 27 points and I believe he scored at least 15 of them in the last quarter. In the end we escaped with the W but a two time NCAA D3 player of the year performance seemed to present itself just as expected. The two personal highlights of the night were the half court alley-oop that I threw down from Paul's (my American teammate) beautiful pass, and the fast break dunk over Andrew's German roommate who is one of the most promising German players in the area (yes he's only 16 which is why I took it easy on him post dunk by keeping cool and calmly running back to play defense).

I would also like to give a shout out to my Mom who hasn't gotten ample love here on FletchSports. For anybody who knows her, I don't have to explain her vacation planning and tour guiding skills, for those who do not know her, lets just say she is the queen of travel. After the game against BBV Hagen, Andrew and my other friend Goldy had our first Euro trip 09' (AKA Lords of the Mediterranean) meeting. I can't count on my hands how many times our trip changed since the first things were mentioned about traveling after season. I have learned a ton from my Mom about how to travel on a budget but more importantly, how to get into things that you'd never find on your own, and meet people to the point where they want to help you not just because you're from out of town but because they appreciate your enthusiasm and eagerness to explore.

For example, while in Barcelona we were drawn to a huge sailboat sitting in the Barcelona marina. As we approached the sailboat it was clear that this marina is THE marina of Barcelona and home to some of the most expensive boats in all of Europe. There is a security guard on guard 24/7 making sure there's no funny business around the docks. The guard on duty this particular night was a very smart and witty fella who knew boats like the back of his hand. So my Mom of course hits him with her immediate 20 questions that she somehow can throw at anybody, anyplace, anytime and gets the scoop on the whole marina and who owns what boat, yadadya ya... At the end of the 10-15 minute conversation (through a cold February night accompanied with a light Spanish drizzle), we know the best place in the city to eat (only 200 euros a plate) from the best places to visit during the day that nobody but the locals know about. Long story short, this guy lead us to an amazing Paella restaurant that had reasonable prices and a killer location. None of which would have been possible without the Queen of Travel in our travel party.

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bye week sends Doner back to Turkey

The weekend of February 22nd and 23rd was our teams bye week because of the national holiday, Karneval. I was quite glad to get a rest for my legs as we've been going strong now for 7 months with only Christmas break in between. The weekend of Karneval is pretty much a unique mix between Mardi Gras, Halloween, and Presidents day back in the United States. People are dressed up all weekend and tend to drink heavily. Naturally, Karneval seemed enticing enough for me and so I pretty much enjoyed myself all weekend in Hagen. Then came Monday.

Monday is actually the biggest day of Karneval but I coincidentally got hit by a Doner bomb late Sunday night. After going out chasing pac-man all night (see below), I worked up quite an appetite and decided to go for my usual late night 4th meal; the Doner (pronounced DER-NA). Now this one time delicious treat comes from the great land of Turkey. It is basically a gyro but made with baked bread rather than a pita. They are so well known in Germany that there is even a song about them! (which translates to "Eating Doners make you beautiful!". So Sunday night I decided to call it a night rather early for Germany (2:00 am) and grab a quick Doner before I doze off to sleep. This particular Doner place was very well known and respected by all the locals in Hagen yet somehow I was hit by a Doner bomb that did me in. My body recognized something foreign in my stomach which I'd wager was the undercooked meet from the Doner and so my body got rid of every ounce of food and liquid in my body by all means imaginable. Apparently my body keeps about 20 lbs. of undigested food and liquid at all times so by Monday afternoon I was actually 20 pounds lighter! My body recovered rather quickly but of the 24 hours on Karneval Monday, I was asleep for 20 of them and drinking water profusely the rest of the time.

As a result of a good bye week, I have decided to say goodbye to the infamous Doner.

(We had a scrimmage on Sunday against a regionalliga 2 team who were missing all of their Forwards and Centers and so we won by 40 points and had a lot of fun doing so. 13 points and 4 assists including an off the backboard alley oop pass, oh and about 5 or 6 turnovers of course. Remember, we're talking about a SCRIMMAGE, not a game, not a game... a SCRIMMAGE!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

All that glitters is not gold

Since my last update our team has kept a nice little win streak going. Win number 4 of the streak came against the 12th place team at BG Hagen on January 23rd. We played a sloppy game overall but ended up winning by 8. I believe I finished with 30 points and around 10 rebounds but missed another tip-in dunk and played flat the first 3 quarters.

Win number 5 was at home against the 5th place team on January 30th and was one of the most inconsistent games I have ever been a part of. We started the game on a 22-3 run. We then let the Grevenbroich Elephants go on a 12-0 run in the 2nd quarter. The 2nd half was then filled with multiple mini-runs until we finished with a strong 4th quarter. We ended up winning 89-81, but I had the worst performance of my professional career. Playing in front of the home town crowd I shot a miserable 27%. I missed all 5 three point attempts and went 0-3 on other jump-shots. I made 5 wide open layups and went 8 for 8 from the line to salvage myself somewhat by scoring 18. It also didn't help that I had 3 turnovers to my 1 lonely assist.

Win number 6 came on February 7th against Bayer Uerdingen who was at the time 2-18 for the year but with a new American power forward who was brought in to help save the team from demotion (in the Regionalliga West, the top 2 teams are likely to be promoted into Pro B whereas the bottom 3 teams are to be demoted into Regionalliga 2 for next season). The game was played in front of a decent sized crowd which happened to include my parents! They had flown in 2 days before from Detroit and were still very jet-lagged. After missing my first wide open lay-up of the game and shaking the jitters out from playing in front of my most loyal fans (my parents of course) I went on to score a new career high of 43 points which included 6 dunks. Everything seemed to be going in that day but the game was still a fight to the finish as Uerdingen was playing for their spot in the league. We ended up winning the close one 85-78.

After the game in Dusseldorf, my parents and I experienced the interminable Saturday night bar scene in Dusseldorf. We had a great time and then stayed at a nice hotel not too far from town. In the morning we set our sights for Barcelona Spain where we spent Sunday, Monday, and part of Tuesday. It was a wild 3 days to say the least and we all had a blast exploring the maritime atmosphere.

Our next game on February 14th was the biggest one of the entire season. We played TSV Leverkusen who were 2nd place in the standings only 1 game ahead of us. They beat us last time we played them at Leverkusen by 11 so we needed to beat them by 11 to take 2nd place in the league. The game was hyped all week on the radio and in some of the local schools. With around 1000 wild fans in our gym it was quite the stage for a great game. The game got very physical from the start. I failed to mention last time we played against Leverkusen how dirty the team was. Apparently, I am not the only one who feels this team as somebody took the time to highlight some of the dirty plays by one of their players this season. Aggression on both sides continued escalating throughout the first half until our starting 2 guard got knocked out of the game by the infamous American player from Leverkusen as seen in the video. We also had the same terrible referee that officiated our first game against this team. Coincidentally, I had my 3rd foul in the first minute of the 2nd quarter, our starting point guard had 4 fouls in the 1st half, two players were out of the game with injuries. By the end of the game we had 3 players foul out (including myself) and were called for more than 10 more fouls than the other team. Regardless of the blatantly poor officiating, we were winning for more than 75% of the game. Heading into the 4th quarter we had one of our largest leads at 8 points. This was when Leverkusen made 6 3-pointers in a row as part of there 41 point 4th quarter. During this ridiculous stretch we made about 3 3-pointers and a lay-up or two in an attempt to match them, but in the end we fell short. We lost the game by 10 as I had to watch the last 6 minutes from the bench after fouling out. I was very proud of our team and our fans as we battled with them throughout the whole game despite being out sized by about 15 lbs. per player. It was quite a disappointment to loose this game but in the end we played our hearts out and did all that we could.

After the game we caught wind of an Amherst victory over Middlebury and the Olsons, the Walters, and the Nehrings helped celebrate a 2nd place NESCAC spot, the Olsons anniversary, and a BBV Hagen (Andrew's team) win thousands of miles from home until 5 o'clock in the morning! My parents were here for only 10 days, but we made so many memories and epic stories that I will never forget in my lifetime. What a week!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Another Career First...

On Saturday January 17th, during our game against Dortmund I once again experienced another career milestone. After building a 25 point lead into the 4th quarter, I was switched out onto a guard and defended him on the perimeter. A teammate of mine stole the ball and I was able to leak out onto the fast break early. I received the pass from my teammate and turned around to see 47 feet of clear wide open space to the basket. With my mouth watering at the opportunity to throw down one of the greatest dunks of all time, I approached the basket "full running" (as my Serbian Coach calls it). The whole thing happened so fast that I didn't have ample time to decide which dunk to pull out of my dreadfully limited 3 dunk repertoire. Would I A) Throw it down one handed and "Bear Claw" the ball? B) Throw down a powerful two hander? C) Go out on a limb and try a 180 one hand dunk? Or D) None of the above. The correct answer of course is D.

I attempted a two hand power dunk but threw the ball into the back of the rim so hard that the ball flew all the way back to half court and was corralled by a player from the opposing team. Fortunately we were up 25 and I received a playful laugh from my teammates and the "K-Squad" (our fan base nickname). Just another career milestone to add to the belt. We ended up winning by 30 and my American roommate Paul and I came only 11 points short of outscoring our opponents by ourselves (35 and 32).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Catching up

So to close out 2008...
  • I stayed up until 7 am to watch the presidential election and acceptance speech from Barrack. Probably the best speech I've ever heard live in my lifetime. I'm pumped for the Inauguration!
  • A wicked time in Osnabruck with big Kev and his teammates. Resulting in unforgettable partying with the doner man.
  • A huge thanksgiving dinner with around 25 people, 1 turkey, and interesting side dishes brought to the table (mac & cheese??, pizza??).
  • A spur of the moment trip to Koln at 1 am with Kevin, Olson, and some other teammates. What could possibly await 12 guys each paying 30 euro for a 40 minute train ride on a Saturday night?
  • A visit from my White Birch Lodge friend Abby and her roommate Kelly who were studying abroad in London town which was a blast!!
  • A trip to Amsterdam where I found myself down $160, completely sober, and only window shopping around the red light district (I promise Mom). (yes this is my car)
  • I also got the chance to catch up with Coach Wilcox and his team in Amsterdam. It was quite a coincidence to run into the whole team at this little cafe...
  • A flight-squad throw up after a serious throw down in front of the infamous Kbomb.
  • 5 Wins by a total of 65, 2 Losses by a total of 6, a new career high in points (37), a new career high in rebounds (18), the best game of Basketball I have ever played (34 pts, 52% fg, 18 reb, 2 TO, 3 Ast, 1 Steal, 1 Block in 40 minutes), the 2nd best dunk in a game of my career (Elms still prevails), my first successful alley oop in a game, and our team is in 3rd place for the first time to finish 2008.
I apologize to my thousands of readers for the lack of updates but it has been a wild ride and I have made a great effort to limit my daily computer time.

As for my time back home and bringing in the new year I was fortunate enough to spend some great quality family time with both of my grandmothers, my cousins in Illinois, and of course my parents and sister. I also got the chance to keep it live in Ann Arbor and New Years Eve in New York City! I got the chance to spend my time in America with loved ones and and indulged myself with America's finest... burgers, Gatorades, Taco Bell, my automatic transmission Jeep, skittles, dishwashers, dryers in the laundry room, high definition television, AMERICAN TELEVISION, AMERICAN SPORTS ON American television, and many many more. I even got to watch my Detroit Lions loose their 16th game of the season. I thought they wouldn't pull it out but of course we broke the record and I'm really proud of my boys (or angry brick wolves for that matter).

Since being back in Germany, I have had some of the most fun yet. I had a special visitor from Amherst come stay for a week. Chelsea and I spent some quality time watching movies, experimenting with cooking (ever had chickamon??? chicken with cinnamon, ask for the recipe if your interested), visiting den Haag in the Netherlands, and many hours spent on the road. She even got to watch us embarrass the most low-budget team in our league with a 3o point smothering. That's about it for now. Keep on working hard with whatever you are doing and remember, "The only things we ever keep are what we give away." -Louis Ginsberg