Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I bleed Purple and White

Saturday November 1st

The first matchup between Iserlohn and BBV Hagen who is lead by none other than Andrew Olson 08' was a very even game with many shifts of momentum. This was the first game I played in Europe where I could feel a heightened level of emotion and excitement from the crowd. Iserlohn and Hagen are only about 10 km from each other and many players on both teams have played for the other team at some point in their career. That being said, unlike the great rivalries that I have been apart of in the past such as Pioneer-Huron or Amherst-Williams, this rivalry was all in fun and good spirits. In my time playing basketball with Pioneer and Amherst, I have gone 19-1 against my rivals. A big reason I fell in love with the game of Basketball was because of these games where everything is on the table and both teams want to win by any means necessary. However, I did not feel this same urgency to win while playing against Andrew because I was unable to get into "kill mode" as I like to call it. There was just way too much respect for my opponents. Although we did win by 5 and I had 17 points (olson 22pts), at the end of the day there were four people in that gymnasium who bleed purple and white (Brooke and Goldy were there watching) and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Terras Irradient.

1L and the German Jordan

October 23rd

We traveled an hour and a half to play the second place team STV Leverkusen at their place. It was unfortunately our second loss of the season after we blew an 8 point lead at one point in the 3rd quarter only to loose by 7. I had a very poor performance as I was in foul trouble early and often. There was one point in the fourth quarter where we went 8 minutes without scoring and still managed to loose by only 5. This game taught our team a lot about ourselves as we have learned in our most recent games to find other ways to score when we are not making our 3's. I also learned that as the only "Center" on our team who has played more than 5 minutes all season, I must stay out of foul trouble by any means necessary.

Some notes on the game...
  • It was the first wooden floor I have stepped onto since my arrival in Europe. It felt good to actually play the game on the surface it is meant to be played on.
  • I got the chance to take a picture with the German Michael Jordan before the game which was pretty cool. Turns out we actually wear the same jersey number!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Real Oktoberfest

Last week I celebrated my birthday... a few times. This is actually a picture of my dream German birthday. Need-less-to-say, it was a different experience being in another country away from my family and friends. Thankfully my teammates and former teammates were here to help celebrate. Since Goldy (who played with me at Amherst and lives an hour away) has a birthday on October 17th and my birthday is on the 15th, we usually have a 4 day extraveganza. If you check out his blog, we pretty much kept true to tradition with American sports, German drinks, and the male-bonding. However, I really missed my family and friends and I didn't even get to speak to any of them on my actual birthday. This is actually my fault seeing as I have a skype account where I can call my family or my ex-girlfriend whom I miss both VERY much.

Last Saturday we beat an easy team at home by 20 and my roommate had 33 points! (I had 24) Today (Thursday) we play the #2 team in the league in their one of a kind gym. I will explain why it is so one of a kind later, stay tuned.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Arrest me for what?

On Saturday we knocked off one of the undefeated teams and moved into 3rd place. Yesterday, we were informed by our manager that the undefeated 2nd place team forgot to send in photocopies of two of their players into the league officials. Therefore, two of the games they have won, are now counted as 20 point losses. So now we are in 2nd place!

The team also has 2 stars next to their team name in the standings. The team with more stars automatically looses any tie-breaker at the end of the season and it also counts towards the 3 strike and you're out policy. If this team gets another star (3 in total), they get demoted one league lower no questions asked. I expressed my disbelief at the strict rules of our league and how this honest mistake acquired them not 1, but 2 stars and my manager simply responded, "Welcome to Germany!" as he held his hands out as if getting arrested.

Not only can the police pull you over whenever they want for no reason whatsoever, the Basketball referees can give away technical fouls for facial expressions, and the league officials can ruin your season and your teams goals of league promotions in a blink of an eye.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Big Win

I'm getting a little behind but last Saturday we played the Grevenbroich Elephants at their place. Coming off of our first road win in about 2 years it was about that time to go and get another one. Grevenbroich is 5-0 and on top of the standings so far this season. We started with our best American PG and our best German PF/C picking up quick fouls in the first minute and a half of the game leading to a quick 7-0 deficiet to start the game.

The only thing I can attribute to their quick start was the hype madness that was their pre-game introductions. After announcing our team, they all exited the gym and the lights were turned off. There was an emcee who acted as a hype-man and was leading all sorts of chants in German that got these fans absolutely loose. There was a laser show with glow sticks scattered throughout the crowd. They then put on The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack on a set of speakers that were BANGIN! For those who do not know me, it was over from that point on! I absolutely love that song (for multiple reasons) and it got me so hype on Saturday.

After finally settling in, we didn't let the lead grow and kept a steady pace; 25-18 after the first quarter. We then went on a 10-0 run to go up 3 and after a key 2nd quarter, we were up about 5 at the half. The game began to get a little interesting when we went on a 15-3 run, and followed that up by allowing them to go on a 13-1 run. The last I could remember, we were up 10 with 1:30 seconds left. We miss a open shot, they come down and hit a 3. One of our young guys (17 years old) drives the lane only 7 seconds into the shot clock and looses the ball. They score, 5 point game, 45 seconds. Our American point guard hits a HUGE shot off a ball screen and we go up 7. They come down and score again so its a 5 point game. We turn the ball over in our own court and they get an easy lay-up, 3 point game with 15 seconds remaining. Luckily, they foul and we make our FT's down the stretch en route to a 6-point victory.

We beat the #1 team at their place! Great win for our team!

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Weekends are for the Warriors!

Before I begin, I would like to explain that the title "Weekends are for the Warriors" is a song from a new band A Change of Pace and is hot fire. Andrew, Goldy, Brooke, and I fell in love with this song during our trip to Ann Arbor in 2006. This song is especially close to our entourage because of the fact that Andrew grew up with the drummer Jon in Arizona and we got to meet him this year.

I guess my weekend started Thursday night when I went to the legendary FunPark. A typical high-school/early college years hangout where the song playlist is as long as Adolph's torso (not very long). I was pleasantly surprised to hear the news that Mickie Krause was performing that night. For those who are uninformed, Mickie Krause is a drinking song/pop icon in Germany and is known for his reputation as the party king of Majorca (an island in Spain where all Germans tend to locate for vacation).

The next day, I was reminded that my roommate and I had made a promise to one of our friends that we would go into Dortmund to this classy club on Friday. We made the promise over 2 weeks ago in a half joking manner but our friend was determined to keep us to our word. So on a night before gameday we went out to Dortmund and went to this very nice club called Prism and of course I was driving 3 very drunk girls singing along to Justin Timberlake. Although these girls didn't speak perfect English, of course they knew every word to Justin and made sure we knew about it. What looked like an average night turned out to be pretty legendary. It turns out that Cascada was performing there that night. As an Amherst alum, it was almost impossible not to know who Cascada is. Of all the things I expected to do or see in Germany, rocking out with Cascada in a PACKED club hall with thousands of drunk Germans was not one of them. Regardless, she killed it and made my night!

Saturday, we won our game by 10 to BG Hagen. It was a good game all around but playing at home against a team who has only 1 win this season I was again disappointed we didn't win by more than 10. I don't think our team has found our killer instinct that we seemed to have at Amherst against average/mediocre teams. It will appear soon enough. I played one of my better offensive games but should have finished with maybe 35 pts. My final stat line was 26 pts (46% from the field), 12 rebs, 6 steals, 2 ast, and of course 7 TURNOVERS. It just felt good to have a right hand functional during a game for a change. Saturday night I decided to stay in and watch my Wolverines and the Rays. Don't want to talk about it tho.

On Sunday I woke up and decided to pull the trigger on tickets to go see BVB Dortmund vs. Hanover 96 in Dortmund. So one week after seeing all the mayhem in Dortmund, I had to see what it was all about for myself. We bought some cheap seats but of course as any savvy veterans would do, we moved down closer and used the language barrier as a fail-proof plan to get better seats. Within 15 minutes we had seen 2 very nice goals by both teams and within 20 minutes, we saw a should-be goal for Dortmund that was called back because the ref didn't have a good angle.

(video coming soon)

After the adventure, we came back to watch NFL games on our projector and watched the Chargers-Dolphins game with Paul and my Coach from Serbia. To set the stage, my coach is a die-hard Dolphins fan and Andrew is a die-hard Chargers fan. I asked my coach if Dan Marino was his favorite player and sure enough he doesn't even know who that is! The reason he jumped on the Dolphin bandwagon was for no other reason but one player... Ricky Williams!!!! My Coach put money on the Fish this week because of their heroics last week where they wiped the floor with the Patriots and sure enough in front of the biggest Charger fan I know, the Dolphins beat the Chargers and my coach won some euros. My whole knowledge of sports is now upside down and I'm searching for some solid ground. Somebody please help, my Serbian coach who follows Ricky Williams actually bet money and won with the Miami Dolphins over the San Diego Chargers while watching in my living room eating McDonalds and shouting Ricky! Ricky! everytime he was even mentioned during the game. My apologies for the length, but this weekend was pretty legendary and one for the warriors!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Homecoming (really, not really)

Saturday we played an away game in Dortmund and although I am thousands of miles from my home in Ann Arbor and my beloved Alma mater campus in Amherst Massachusetts, things felt very familiar to me on Saturday.

The trip to Dortmund is a quick 30 minute drive on the autobahn (going around 90mph of course), and for our away games we travel in a 12 person Nissan Euro van looking thing with a big Kangaroo on the back. Anyway, as soon as we got into the city there were thousands of people rushing to get home from a Dortmund Foosball (soccer) match that had just finished. I suddenly felt as if I were in Ann Arbor on a crisp Fall Football afternoon (well nothing can touch that, but it was very close). Everyone was decked out in their yellow and black scarves and it was a great sight to be seen.

To the game. We started out very well and held a 2-6 point lead almost the entire first half. Thanks to some ridiculous calls from the referee, I had collected 3 fouls in the first half and was forced to start on the bench for the start of the 3rd quarter. We played a pretty good game and ended up winning by only 4 but the referees were responsible for about 10 points in their favor.

As it turns out, this was our clubs first road victory in over 2 years. I had no idea about this little fact but I knew something was strange after we celebrated with such exuberance after beating this team by only a few, when I know for a fact that it should have been by at least 10 points. Our club played in a league higher the last two seasons and I guess they went 0-for in all of their road games on their spiral down to the Regionalliga. Pretty cool thing to win on the road but something I have been way to familiar with from my time at Amherst.

I had a dunk in the first minute but would not score again until the 2nd quarter. I had heard that my boys Andrew, Goldy, and Kevin were coming to the game but I think they didn't show up until around the end of the 1st quarter. Maybe it was just my teammates being there, but after a miserable 1st quarter I turned things around and started helping my team down in the post. I was proud of the way I played as I had my pinkie in a small plastic cast and the entire finger taped to my index. I know I like to go left, but it is quite difficult when you don't even feel comfortable catching a ball with your off hand for fear that the wound may open up again and the sheer discomfort of the ball smashing into old bloody stitches.

After the game the A-crew held it down in Iserlohn and we were back to our old habits. A glorious Saturday in my opinion as I was familiarized with the spirit of sports, reunited with old friends, and put an end to an ugly streak of loosing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Fingers Hurt

In the middle of the third quarter of our game last Saturday I had the strangest injury of my career happen. I was the one on a two-on-one break and I went to intercept a poorly thrown pass. I got one hand on the ball when the other player (who was a 6'7" 250 lbs. Marine looking dude) grabbed the ball and my right pinkey finger with it. My finger was pulled back and it felt like a small finger jam. I immediately looked down and was shocked...

My finger opened up like a baked potato. The skin just ripped open about an inch and I was looking at blood seeping through muscle tissue and bone. Not the prettiest thing to look at to say the least. I apologize if one has a weak stomach but below is my finger after I had 5 stitches woven through my pinkey. I was told to rest 2 weeks but I may be able to give it a shot for our next game with a custom made brace/cast. I was a little bummed but I am thankful that it was nothing worse.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here I am

I have received too many requests to post something more personal about my time here in Germany and what can I say? Peer pressure is real and no I am not Bill Simmons. I have already 2 months of unforgettable experiences under my belt and I don't really know where to start. My boy Goldy really summed up our trip with News Release Basketball pre-contract days in his blog better than I can. It truly was a great experience that is a product of excellent hospitality, energetic kids, and a close knit group. The cherry on the top... I received my contract around August 8th and I have been a Iserlohn Kangaroo ever since!
We played 5 preseason games and went 3-2 in August (Including a win over former Amherst teammate Andrew Olson's team and a close, hard fought loss to Kevin Hopkins' team). I picked up my first technical foul against Kevin's team for yelling one of the few German words that I know; drei (as I was trying to get the referee to call a 3 second in the key violation after one of Kevin's teammates was camped out in the lane).

September 6th we opened our season at home and won pretty easily against a mediocre team. I believe I scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.  Most importantly, I got FGA's likeI had Altman on the back of my jersey (only my Amherst people know about that, sorry). Yes, I got another technical foul for yelling one word again. This time it was nearly "Foul!!" and I gave this female referee a quick glance before I ran back on defense.

September 13th we played on the road and almost came back from 17 point deficiet in the 4th quarter to win, but fell just short and lost our first game by 5. Terrible refs but what can one do? At least I did not get a technical foul (however a teammate of mine got one for spitting on the court so that he could help get the dirt off of the bottoms of his shoes). 24 points and 9 rebounds where13 of which came in the 4th quarter.

September 20th we won our second home game and we played one of our best games thus far. 16 points and 9 rebounds in limited action. Injury update and more coming soon...

 Wow I love my job! 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I don't celebrate that...

So if you haven't seen Josh Howard at Allen Iverson's celebrity flag football game yet, it has stirred up many emotions around the world. Although this comment may have been just messing around among friends on a relaxing summer afternoon, the comments that Josh Howard made a few months ago are something to remember.

This celebrity all-star game was very non-competitive and is strictly played for entertainment purposes, yet it is still a sporting event and the national anthem is being played for a reason. The line between official and leisure may be very small and unclear, but it is important to understand that with the national anthem there are principles. Whenever this song is played it is to be played in a serious manner. Just as when a sermon preaches or a school teacher teaches, the national anthem must require a great deal of respect and attention.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban posted many e-mails he received from Americans who felt personally attacked by Mr. Howard's comments and responded with venomous rage at the player's boss. In a Mark Cuban kind of way, the Maverick owner showed the world these hateful e-mails and included them on his popular blog.

I feel like the real issue here is what is going through Mark Cuban's mind to do such a thing. What kind of business man will stick up for an unpatriotic act by one of his employees who has a noteworthy criminal record? If the president of an organization like Microsoft were in this position, I don't think Mr. Gates would keep anybody around let alone stand up for them just because he or she came up with the best marketing scheme and brought in the most money for the year. This person would be gone in a second!

The NBA is a business but for some godforsaken reason, presidents and managers of teams do not require their players to meet the same expectations as everyone else in the organization. I am quite disappointed in Mark Cubans childish actions and his unprofessionalism.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Vince Young, We Need You!!!

There are too many stereotypes and misconceptions about professional athletes in major leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and Major Soccer leagues around the world. One that I would like to focus on is the ease and simplicity of what one actually does for a living. A professional athlete may not literally work 40 hours a week like everybody else, but a professional athlete must work 24 hours a day. Every ounce of sleep, every hour of recovery, every calorie digested are going to play a role in an athlete's performance. Not to mention, every social interaction with fans, media, coaches, agents, and family. Which is why we need to let Vince Young take care of what he needs to do and get his mind right. Based on this interview, I believe Vince is going to make sure he finds himself and fine tunes his mental state so that he can continue to play the game he loves and battle back from his injury. It is a shame that something like this can get blown out of proportion so quickly with today's flatness of the world.

(Via AP)

I hope that this video helps sort out what actually was going through Vince Young's mind. I hope that he gets back on the field as soon as possible because the sporting world needs him. In case you forgot, this guy is one of the 10 current sports figures that has created what I like to call "Unforgivable Moments In Time" or UMIT's for short. Enjoy...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Biggest surprise from week 1 in College Football

The biggest surprise from week 1 in College Football is easy; What happened to Clemson???

(Courtesy of Dave Martin/AP - NBCsports)

The same team that won 9 games last season and returned 14 of 22 starters looked like a team that with a brand new system on offense (sort of like Michigan this weekend). With the backfield of the talented James Davis and the play-maker C.J. Spiller, it should be expected that the Tigers would be able to put together some sort of running attack against the Tide this weekend. However, the team that finished 24th in the nation last year in rushing laid a giant goose egg in total rushing yards against the stingy big uglies of Alabama. I guess that's what happens when you loose 4 of your starting offensive linemen and have to fill the almighty important core of the offense.

Personally, I am torn between these two NCAA heavy-weights when it comes to who I would rather see go far this season. I have family who are Clemson alum and things were really looking bright for them this season as Coach Bowden has them on the right track to a BCS championship. On the other hand, I have watched Coach Saban grow up as a coach. From Michigan State, where he was a "in your face" tough S.O.B. type coach, through the NFL years, and now to where I think he belongs... Alabama. I believe Saban has all the tools of a legendary College Football coach and I would like to see him take the Tide as far as they can go this season!

So although there were no big Appalachian state-esque surprises this past weekend (however Michigan lost their season opener again), it was yet another great opening weekend of College Football. I am looking forward to a great season! Football is in the air.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whats the Deal with Boston Celtics fans?

So everyone knows the Boston Celtics won yet another NBA Championship this season and this of course solidified them as one of the most recognizable "famous" sports organizations in the world. However, does anybody realize that this so called "blue collar sports town" doesn't really give a damn about their beloved Boston Celtics? Sure this season they were 12th in the NBA in attendance, but lets take a look back a few years. In 06-07, Boston was ranked 20th in the league behind New Jersey and Orlando and in 05-06, they were 18th in the league. Now tell me how this is a world famous organization that still sells many tickets by riding the coat-tails of the legendary Larry, Robert, and Kevin teams of the 80's and 90's.

My question to everybody is, why doesn't anyone realize how fair weathered these Boston Celtic fans are? They start winning a few games in 07-08 and then all of a sudden, thousands of these "die hard" Celtic fans start coming out of the parquet woodwork, and into the Garden?

Wait, there's more! In 04-05, they ranked 24th and in 03-04, they were 18th. Of course the old cliche is that if the team starts winning, the people will come. Yet how come the fans of Chicago, Cleveland, and L.A. have been pouring in the last 5 years and show their allegiance to their respected clubs. I am sick of hearing how the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers are the most historic franchises in Basketball. Boston is nowhere near the level of L.A. Sure the Lakers and the Celtics have the most Championships by a long shot, but honestly the Boston Celtics fans don't give a damn about their Boston Celtics so long as the Boston Red Sox are in town (and the Patriots keep on winning). As much as I dislike the Lakers, I have to respect their fan base and the city of Los Angeles for actually showing up to see their team play whether they have a strong season, or it is a rebuilding year. Dedication and persistence people, that's all I ask.

Play Ball!

Whats up everybody, I play professional Basketball in Germany. I just recently graduated from College and figured I would give this blogging thing a shot. I know a lot about Sports and love to talk sports with just about anybody. Not only discussing the current sports news and such, but I really enjoy talking about philosophy and psychology of sport and competition. Athletics have become such a huge part of human culture and the progress of athletics continues to push the seams and boundaries everyday.

I am also a family man. No I do not have a family yet but I am a huge advocate for family and family values. I would like to blog a lot about family issues and everyday hardships and pleasures from both work and leisure. If blogging is a way for me to outlet my thoughts, feelings, and aspirations way out here in Germany, then so be it! Today is the first day of the rest of my blog-life. I hope you enjoy! Thanks