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.