Thursday, December 10, 2009

Swiss Beauty

When I re-signed with SAM Massagno this year, one of the things that I knew I had to do was to take Liz to Zurich during Christmas. Last year I had the opportunity to go with Brody (one of my teammates from last year) and his friend. Zurich might be the coolest Christmas city in the world and I wanted to show Liz how cool it was. One thing I did not anticipate though was the beauty of Switzerland on the ride to Zurich.

Our trusty little TomTom took us on a route that we do not normally take on the way to our games. We had a beautiful day of driving and when we got the opportunity to pull over we snapped these gorgeous pictures. It is sights like these that just take my breath away.

The picture at the top is our trusty Citroen C3. We don't leave home without it and maybe my Dad will stop complaining about how he hasn't seen my car yet and yes, it really has my name on the side so everyone knows where I am. Pretty sweet huh?

Hardly home but always reppin. Liz snapped this picture and it looks pretty gangsta.
Liz has a pretty big camera and it was hard for us to try and get a good picture. This was the best we could get.
Nothing really to say. Just amazing!

Thanksgiving Pics

SAMerica eating dinner. Wish Liz was in this picture but someone had to take it. We need to learn how to use the timer on the camera.

All the food. It still looks so good.
The carved bird.
Un cooked bird. It's tiny!

Monday, December 7, 2009


The holidays are upon us and it is a very exciting time to be in Europe. Everywhere you go you can see Christmas lights and trees and it is all so beautiful especially in the town squares. As Americans we rely on Thanksgiving to officially start up the holiday season in the US but unfortunately they do not have that over here in Switzerland. Liz and I took it upon ourselves to host a Thanksgiving dinner for the Americans playing for Massagno.

This was a pretty cool thing for us to do. Unfortunately, for the past 7 years I have been unable to celebrate Thanksgiving with my own family. The past two years I did not even do anything. Liz and I wanted to do a dinner so my teammates would feel more at home and have a right holiday.

We were very fortunate this year. We went to the local Migros and found a turkey. I have been in Switzerland for the past four years and have been unable to find a turkey. Needless to say, I was very excited about it. There was only one little (pun intended) problem with our turkey. It only weight 6 pounds. When I called home to tell my family about the turkey I was immediately shot down and told that it wasn't a turkey and to check the label again to make sure it was not a cornish hen. It wasn't. Our little turkey was pretty expensive so we decided to buy a bunch of chicken legs to round out the meat portion of our dinner.

Thanks to Barb Schuelke we had a delicious recipe for stuffing. We kind of had to scrounge up some ingredients but we did it. We even had home made mashed potatoes. I know this because I peeled them and mashed them! Green beans and salad rounded out our Thanksgiving meal. The only thing missing was pumpkin pie and that was pretty sad because that is my favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving.

The meal was a hit though and Ross even said he was surprised at the "real ass Thanksgiving." It was also pretty cool to do it too because it was our (Liz and I) first holiday together. It definitely had a different feel to it. A great feeling. I am looking forward to many more holidays and to having Thanksgiving dinner with the fam and in the States soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Game vs Geneva

There is an old saying that goes something like this, "You play like you practice." This could not have been more true for us. Coach Massimo took over for us at a very bad time. We didn't have enough time to really know how he wanted us to play before we went out and played our first games with him. It also didn't help that we were scheduled to play against Lugano and Nyon right off the bat. I could go in depth about those games but I do not want too. They were awful. We played extremely poor and it carried over into our game against Lausanne.

After those bad performances we knew something had to change. The next week in practice was intense. We were all locked in and focused. Everyone was competing and there was a will to win during the practice. It felt great and felt like we were finally practicing.

That coming week we had Geneva at home on Sunday. I didn't know if we were going to win but I did know that we were going to play good. We just had to because of the way we practiced. In all honesty too, it was a game we should win.

The hard work during the week really paid off and we played a great game against Geneva. We were clicking on all cylinders. The on ball defense was great and if someone was beat then the help defense was there too. The help on the help defense was even there which is something we haven't had all year. We were getting stops on defense which translated well onto the offensive end and resulted in fast break buckets.

Our offense was just as good as our defense. We pushed the ball when we could in transition and when we didn't have anything we set the offense and ran the plays. Everything we worked on during the week was there. We looked like an actual basketball team. I haven't seen the game yet but I am sure it was a beautiful game to watch. The final score of the game was 86-71 with us coming out on top.

It should have been a great start into the second tour of the season but that was not the case. More on that next time.

Until then.....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pictures from Zurich

The glorious Hooters sign. I have never been happier to see a Hooters anywhere in the world!
Ross, Dan and I in front of Hooters. Looking fly!
Ross, Dan and I in front of some fountain in downtown Zurich. Liz was there I promise. I just don't think that we took a photo together.
Us goofing around on some bridge in Zurich.
Look at all that food!!! It was so good!!!!!


One of the many cool things about living here is the ability to explore other cities. Switzerland is pretty centrally located in Europe and has easy access to Italy, France, Austria and Germany. Those countries are great but there are some really cool places to go in Switzerland. One of my favorites is Zurich. I made the trip for the first time last year with Brody during Christmas. The snow was falling, lights were everywhere and I saw a singing Christmas tree. It was pretty awesome and I knew that I needed to take Liz, Dan and Ross.

American food has been dominating our conversations lately. Topics such as burgers, what would eat right now, where is the first place you are going to eat at when you get home, etc. have all been brought up numerous times. I recently found out that there is a Hooters (yes a Hooters) in Zurich. There is also Dominoes and many Starbucks there as well. After our big win in Monthey on Saturday, Zurich seemed like the best option to go celebrate our win.

So, Ross (6'7") Dan (6'9") Liz (5'6") and myself (6'10") packed into the Citroen C3 to make the 2 and a half hour trip to Zurich to enjoy wings, pizza and coffee. It was the best idea we had in awhile. I typed in the street address of Hooters into my TomTom and off we went. Unfortunately, the address was off so when we arrived there was no Hooters in sight. We were determined to find our fine American restaurant so we drove around for about 30 minutes when the street we were on opened up into a square and right on the corner the most glorious sign I have ever seen were the orange letters of Hooters. The car erupted in cheers and we had finally made it.

We parked the car and walked over to the restaurant. Not surprisingly it wasn't packed. They had the World Series on the tv and we sat down to watch the game that had already been decided 16 hours before. It was pretty awesome. We ordered the giant platter of wings as well as burgers, fries, chicken sandwiches and mozzarella sticks. Needless to say we were stuffed.

After Hooters we decided to walk around the city for a little bit. It is so beautiful there. We walked and I met a friend I went to high school with for coffee at one of the 50 Starbucks in the city. It was so nice to be able to sit and sip on some coffee that wasn't in a thimble. I decided that we are going to go back sometime around Christmas so Liz can see all the lights and the Christmas market. It is a special time of year.

It was getting to be late and I was getting hungry again so we decided that we needed to stop at Dominoes and get some American pizza. We went on the lookout for a Dominoes and after a couple of minutes we found one. I ordered a Dominator size cheese pizza, cheese bread, cinnamon bread and chicken fingers. The other guys got two pizzas as well. That must have been some of the best pizza I have tasted. It was delicious.

Overall it was awesome to get out of Lugano and enjoy another part of Switzerland, even though we made it as American as possible. I look forward to doing it again soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Coach and Monthey

Ok. So, it has been awhile since my last post and I said I would update it more frequently but I haven't. I'm sorry. A lot of stuff has happened once again but that is to be expected when I post every three weeks. In the last post we had just suffered an awful loss at home to Meyrin. A team that we should never lose to. Apparently this was too much for our coach to handle because he quit after the game. He had said that coaching our team had become too much for him to handle and he felt like he had lost the team.

Basically, he didn't want to deal with the team because he is not a professional coach and he can't deal with the pressures of coaching. I was actually ok with this. I liked our coach a lot. He was a nice guy and he let me do my thing on the court. What more can I want? I also respect the fact that he is not a professional and coaching a basketball team is a huge commitment and takes time away from him and his two young children. I can get that. So whatever. No big blow to me. I have been through this situation before when my coach was fired in Sion. I am more grown up now and I can handle the situation better and like a professional.

We were all wondering who was going to be our next coach. The coaching search was extremely intense. People were jumping at the chance to coach one of the bottom dwellers or the Swiss basketball league. I would like to think our coaching search was like this but it was not. There were two candidates. Both individuals were fully qualified to coach us. I just really wanted to find out who it was going to be so we could get on with our season and win some basketball games. When we didn't know by Wednesday we knew that the new coach would not coach us for the game on Saturday. So, we were going into a big road game (in Monthey), coming off of a bad loss without a coach. Welcome to SAM Massagno.

We did find out who our coach is the next day. They promoted Massimo Aiolfo (not as easy to pronounce as Phil Jackson) from our B League team to the head job. Coach Mass worked with Cantu Basket (one of the top teams in Italy) for a number of years. While working with Cantu he worked with Bootsy Thorton, Shaun Stonerook and other top Italian players. The experience he brought with him from Italy had/has me excited to play.

Now that we knew who our coach was, we could prepare for our game against Monthey on the road. Coach Mass wasn't going to be coaching us though. That task was left up to the assistants from the team. We knew going into the game it was a big game. Monthey has some good professional players and a very good coach. The gym also has a great atmosphere to it. There is nothing to do in the town of Monthey so all of its residents come out to support the team. It is not like Louisville or Wisconsin but it is still good for Switzerland.

It took us 7 hours to get to the game. Traffic, distance and weather prevented us from getting there 2 hours before the game like normal. We got to the gym with an hour to go until game time. It was a little different because our pre game routine was different. I expected a slow start from us. Boy was I wrong. We were clicking on all cylinders. Our defense was great. The ball was moving on offense. There was hustle and enthusiasm from the team. It was definitely a fun game to play in. We won the game too. SAM Massagno picked up the first road win of the season in convincing fashion with a score of 78-65.

I played pretty well in the game too. I had 12 points (6-8 from the floor)and 14 rebounds. I have been rebounding pretty well this year. I think at a higher level than I was at last year which is very encouraging. I feel more athletic and powerful in grabbing the boards. I figure as long as I go hard to the glass and jump I can get any ball.

After the game we were riding high off of our victory. The team purchased us a bunch of beer for the bus ride home. Unfortunately after a game I have no desire to drink beer. So, I stuck to water for the 5 hour ride home. We were all happy though and excited to start on Monday with our new coach and hoping that we were going to be on a roll. Hoping is the appropriate word here.

More on that next time. Until then........

Monday, November 2, 2009

Swiss Cup and Meyrin

Ok. So I know it has been a long time since my last post but there has been a ton of things going on and I hope to fill you in soon. Since my last post we have played 3 games, had 3 different sets of visitors, made an awesome trip to Zurich, changed our head coach and picked up our first LNBA road win. It has been pretty hectic. I'll start off though with the Swiss Cup.

The Swiss Cup is a tournament with all of the basketball teams in Switzerland. It is a one game elimination format. Switzerland actually has 4 different leagues and the lower leagues have been playing in the Swiss Cup for two months now. Those teams battled it out to have a chance to play against the LNBA (top Swiss league) teams. So, for our first round Swiss Cup game we drew Swiss Central Basket located in Lucerne, Switzerland. They are a League B team and one of the better ones at that. The game was supposed to be an easy win for us so we played the game in Lucerne.

It actually was an easy win. It was kind of nice to watch the game from the bench for a little bit. Ross played a cool 32 minutes and put in work. Vinz also played very well. One complaint I had with the game though was the officiating. By far the worst I have ever seen in Switzerland. I was called for 3 travels after not having 1 in our first 4 games. It was unbelievable. Oh well, I guess the refs felt sorry for them since we whooped up on them pretty bad.

It seemed like we were on a roll and prepared for Meyrin on Sunday. That statement couldn't have been farther from the truth. This was a game we were supposed to win. Meyrin was coming into the game with zero wins and sitting in last place. We were also playing the game at home. Well, the game was kind of at home. It was in Massagno but not at the gym we usually play at. We couldn't play in Palamondo because there was a hockey tournament going on there for the weekend and apparently they has priority. The gym was pretty awful and kind of embarrassing to be playing a "professional" basketball game in. I'm pretty sure that the gym at Mohawk Elementary School in Macomb, Michigan is nicer. Besides the point, we were supposed to win the game.

An added bonus for me was playing against my friend and former teammate Karon Bradley. I played with Karon for 2 years at Marquette before he transferred to Wichita State where he had a successful college career. Playing against a friend is a bit of a strange experience. You want to beat them so you can hold the bragging rights over them. So, I wanted to beat Karon for this reason.

We started the game strong. Our offense was scorching but the same couldn't be said for our defense. Dan came out and had 14 points in the 1st quarter. He was perfect and every shot was falling. All of their shots were falling too. It was pathetic. They were driving at will and nailing 3 pointers. We would have help but there would be no secondary help. The game continued like this for 3 more quarters and we lost 95-87. It was bad. I ended the game with 15 and 11 but I would have rather had the win.

Apparently our coach would have rather had the win too because on Monday after the game he quit the team. He felt that he had lost control over the team and it was a lost cause. I can understand what he was saying but he never tried to re gain control. I really like Coach Fabrizio but I know he is not professional and if he felt like it was too much then I can understand that.

We do have a new coach but I will talk about that in another post.

I really wanted to take a picture with Karon after the game. It's not very often that you play against a friend and former teammate so I wanted to capture the moment a little bit. This is after the game. Notice the huge smile on my face after the defeat. Maybe we will be able to take a better one later but if not then I will have to settle for this. Oh well.

Until next time.........

Monday, October 19, 2009

Game 4 vs. Boncourt

Saturday was a great fall day for basketball. I know, fall is about football but hear me out on this one. I have been playing basketball for a long time now and I love fall and winter. A lot of people think I'm crazy when I say something like this but I associate fall and winter with basketball season. So, I love the start of fall. The start of fall in college brought Midnight Madness at Marquette and fall brings the start of professional basketball in Europe and a chance for me to make some money. Fall has been pretty good to me.

So, Saturday was a great day to play basketball in Switzerland. It was cold but not too cold. The leaves had started to change and SAM Massagno (my team) had our first real Swiss road game. Yes, we played Vacallo on the road but Boncourt was our first road game because Vacallo is 20 minutes down the road and Boncourt is a little farther.

A little geography on Switzerland is needed to understand this statement. Massagno is located in the south of Switzerland close to the border of Italy. Boncourt is located in northern Switzerland on the border of France. In fact it is so close to the border that we walked to the border of France from our bus so we could stretch our legs a little bit. In total, Boncourt is approximately 5 hours away.

This would be no problem if we had chartered a flight the night before and stayed in the Marriott the night before but this is Switzerland and not Marquette University. We left at 10 am to play the game at 5:30 pm. To add to our travel situation we took the tiniest bus that I have ever traveled on. The seats in the bus made airline seats look like lazy boys. So, imagine 20 grown men in a tiny bus for 5 hours getting ready to play a basketball game.

Also, Boncourt is one of the toughest places in Switzerland. Boncourt is a little town with nothing to do so on Saturdays the whole town comes out with their drums and air horns and makes a lot of noise in the gym. The team is also very well coached and they are tough. All of these factors led us to our first real road game.

Needless to say, we didn't respond very well. We came out the first quarter and played very sluggish. It was as if we did not have our legs. During warm ups I thought to myself that I might not have any legs this game, they just felt so heavy. At the end of the first quarter we were down 28-14. Definitely not a great start.

It didn't get much better from there either. We went on runs but whenever we were to cut the lead down, Boncourt hit a big shot or got a steal. At halftime our gracious hosts were up 46-27.

I could talk more about how the game went but I think my brain has blocked most of the details out of my head. I'm pretty happy about that too. My final stats for the game were 23 and 11. I had played pretty well but I wish we could have come out of the game with the win. I really want to win more games this year and play like we are capable of.

At the end of the game, Boncourt has a player of the game for both teams. The prize is usually from a sponsor of the team and is many times wine, chocolate or some other Swiss specialty. I received the award for this game. It was pretty interesting to say the least. Apparently Boncourt does not have anything cool in it or does not have any good sponsors. I received a basket that resembled a grocery basket from Kroger. In my "award" I had: Special K cereal, black cherry jelly, pasta, biscuits, orange juice, iced tea, some kind of cookie, canned mushrooms and a chocolate bar. It was pretty awesome because I do not need to go to the grocery store this week.

Anyways, we have two games this week. One is against Luzern on Wednesday for the Swiss Cup and then we play a regular season game on Sunday against Meyrin Grand Sacconex at home. I'll provide a game preview some time this week because my friend Karon Bradley plays from Meyrin. Until then........

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Italian Class

One of the really cool things about playing in Massagno and overseas is the different languages. In Ticino Switzerland (where Massagno is) they speak Italian. Italian is one of my favorite languages to listen to. It is also pretty awesome to watch as well because you can follow a conversation just by watching the hands of the people speaking. Very entertaining.

I make the most out of the experience of playing overseas. I think to some people living here the language is probably a big problem and they hate it. I love it because it gives me a chance to learn another language and sound cool.

It always seems like the first words I learn in a new language is the curse words and I think this is the same for every player playing overseas. I have every Italian phrase down, most of french, and some serbian. I will not repeat the words because my mother reads this and even if she can't understand I don't want her to think of me negatively. The funny part about some of the phrases is that they don't necessarily translate very well to English so when one of my foreign teammates will curse in English it is something we never say.

Curse words aside, SAM Massagno offers us an Italian class one day a week. It's pretty awesome because we get to pick out what we want to learn. Since this is my second year here I am a little more advanced than some of my teammates and wife but teaching them helps me learn more. Maybe I'll blog one day in all Italian, probably not though.

We study basic things in our class like basketball phrases, food, greetings and how to tell time. I'm looking forward to the verbs because then I feel like we are really learning. Hopefully by Christmas I will be able to speak pretty well.

Anyways, it's about time to go to bed. Questo sabato abbiamo una partita in Boncourt and I need to sleep.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Vinz!

Some of my favorite memories of elementary school were my friends birthdays. I think we all remember the days when it was Bobby's birthday and he brought in those funfetti cupcakes for everyone in the class. We all sang happy birthday and then played heads up seven up or some other game. I thought those days were all over. Apparently not.

Today was my teammate Vinz's (pronounced Vince) birthday. I don't know if this is a Euro tradition or just a SAM Massagno tradition but, Vinz walked into the locker room today with 2 cases of beer, 3 bags of chips, and other various snacks for after practice. All the Swiss guys let out a cheer like the Berlin wall had just been torn down.

When practice was over, we went into the locker room skipping the usual post practice half court shots and proceeded to celebrate Vinz's birthday. Everyone said "auguri" (best wishes) and we cracked open a few cases of beer and passed out delicious cookies that one of our assistant coach's wife made. There are many beverages that I would love to have after practice but unfortunately Feldschlossen beer is not one of them (in case you were wondering, milk is at the bottom of the list.)

So, 15 grown sweaty men sat around the locker room drinking beer and eating cookies, chips and pretzels. I was eating a cookie when Dan asks me, "Who is going to be the guy to get naked first and then take a shower?" Legit question. I sat back, looked around the room and realized this could be a scene from a gay porno. It wasn't but it was very interesting. Then it got weird because I didn't want to just sit around anymore because my stomach hurt from eating 10 cookies in 5 minutes. I slipped into the shower while my teammates enjoyed beer and chips.

I guess I have grown up a ton. Gone are the days of cupcakes and heads up seven up. Beer and naked men have replaced the good old days. Oh well, I guess it's just another awesome experience of playing basketball in Europe and to top it all off, I took the extra cookies home!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pics from Vacallo

Here are a few of my favorite pictures my wonderful wife took from our game against Vacallo. Enjoy!

Posting up. Notice the intensity in the eyes!

The Vacallo dance team. I thought it was pretty funny and they thought it was funnier when I saw them a couple of days later at the Vacallo-Boncourt game. I will give $100 to anyone who can correctly guess their ages!
Jump hook!

Jump shot! That went in. I can't remember if the hook did or did not........


I mentioned in my previous post about how I had some other things on my mind the night before the Vacallo game. That night I had received an e mail from my friend Jaclyn about how our friend Josh's father had passed away that afternoon. Now this is one of the things that sucks about playing basketball and being so far away from home. Josh is one of my best friends in the world and he was a groomsman in my wedding. We have known each for 14 years and I have known his dad for all of them. Being so far away I really wish I could have been there for Josh. Thats one of the things that sucks about this. I hope he knows that I am there for him whenever he needs it.

I would like to just share some things about Mr. Beckett and what a great guy he was.

Mr. Beckett and I had a great relationship. Our relationship started when he became my very first basketball coach when I was in 6th grade. It's funny because I think of him every time I shoot a ball. When I was learning how to shoot, he had told me that a perfect shot will always come back to you after it goes through the net. I can't remember if we were any good, we probably weren't but we had a lot of fun with him and apparently learned some things about basketball.

Mr. Beckett was also an accomplished journalist. He covered the University of Michigan basketball team for the Ann Arbor News during their 1989 NCAA championship. Mission Accomplished is the book that he wrote telling the story of the team. It is a great book and I own an autographed copy.

On top of covering U of M he also covered the Brighton High School boys Varsity team when I played there. I had the pleasure of having many interviews with him and he was the easiest person to talk to. Sometimes I had to remember that I was talking to a reporter and not someone else. I remember him coming into the locker room after games and saying "what a game" or "Im sorry." There were more what a games than Im sorrys. I was looking through my high school scrap book earlier this year and was re reading them and he made me sound like I was a really good basketball player. Thanks.

His passion and interviewing had me interested and possibly thinking of a career in journalism after high school. He encouraged me to do it and was always there to offer advice or encouragement if I needed it. I did not end up pursuing a degree in journalism because of the demands of the degree and the demands of basketball at Marquette. Last year I had talked to Mr. Beckett about possibly writing a book or starting a blog. He had told me that they were great ideas and my blog would be something he would add to his website. I never got the opportunity to share my blog with him but he definitely gave me the courage to start one up.

Thanks Mr. Beckett for everything. I and many others will always remember you.

Games 2 and 3

I'm sorry. It has been awhile since I have blogged but I have a very good excuse. I have been busy. That's always a good excuse right? OK. We have played 2 games since the Fribourg game and I have good news, SAM Massagno has won their first game of the season. On Sunday October 11, we beat the Birstal Starwings. Please don't ask me what a Starwing is because I have no idea. I just sit back and enjoy Euro team names.

I have to be honest though, we picked up another loss before we got the first win. We played Vacallo (reigning Swiss Cup and LNBA champions) on October 7. It was a very good test for us. I would have preferred for us to play the game at full strength but that was just not possible. We were down some important players in the game and it hurt our depth and our game. I hope that its not a sign of things to come because it is too early in the season to have so many injuries.

Poor defense, bad offense and missed shots were added to our troubles against Vacallo. It was a good learning experience though. We gave them a scare in the second half but it wasn't enough to beat them. The final score of the game was 79-64.

As for myself. I could have definitely played better. I had my mind on other things and I slept very poorly the night before. I missed some easy shots that I normally make. I finished the game with 8 points (4-8) and 10 rebounds. A solid game but definitely could have played better.

The good thing about this year is we play more games so we had a chance to rebound. We took full advantage of this opportunity and beat Birstal on Sunday. It felt so good to get that win. I/we didn't win a lot last year but we have a much better team now and I feel that we can finish in the top 5 of the league and we took our first step on Sunday.

If I can take positive things out of losses then I can take negative things out of wins to get better. Our offense is not up to par. We are not utilizing our weapons on offense. I am not going to get into specifics but I feel that we are no where near scratching our potential on offense and it would be better to find it sooner rather than later.

Our defense could also get better. Too many times we don't know what we are doing on the pick and roll our cross screens. Also, there is not enough help side. I say this with myself being included. There are a lot of athletes on the court and I know we can make some athletic plays.

We won the game 82-76. It was a close won and came down to the final minutes. In standard anything can happen in European basketball fashion, Coach told us 15 minutes before the game that we would not have a clock or scoreboard for the game. Something happened and they couldn't get it up and working in time before the game. So, they pulled out the old flip scoreboards and had on official clock at the scorers table. It was difficult to keep track of the time to say the least. We were constantly asking how much time was left. You would have thought that the announcer could announce the time on the speaker in English rather than Italian (because everyone playing can speak English) but hey, this is Europe. We are in their country.

I played pretty well in the game. The official stat line for me is 12 points and 10 rebounds. I call shenanigans on the rebounds though. I cant tell you how many I had but I'm fairly positive that I had more than 10. Our stat keeper this year likes to watch rather than keep stats. He only had me for 3 offensive rebounds at the end of the game when I scored off of 4. Its pretty frustrating but hopefully it will get better as the season progresses. And if not then there will be complaints from one angry center.

We only have 1 game this week and I'm pretty happy about that. I'm pretty beat up after the 3 games last week and I'm going to try and rehab and get back to 100%. We play at Boncourt on Saturday. Ill try and post a pre game report before then.

Until then......

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fribourg Pics

Here are a few of my favorite pics from the game. All but 1 of these were taken by my beautiful/wonderful/amazing wife Liz. Enjoy!
Dan and I talking on the bench during warm ups before the game. It looks like we are talking about something important. Probably not though.
Let the season begin! Tip off. I won this but definitely tipped it to the wrong team. It happens
One of my jump hooks during the game. This went in.
My dunk that brought the house down. I have to admit, it felt really good.
This is the after picture of the dunk. I didn't pull myself up either. My hops have increased significantly since I left Marquette.

Game 1 vs Fribourg

Well, game 1 is over and done with. I really wish I had happy news to report but unfortunately I do not. It was a very good game but we (Massagno) were not able to pull it out. We lost 78-85.

One of the many things I learned from Coach Crean at Marquette was to focus on the positive and not to dwell on the negative. There were many positives to the game. It was the most competitive and best we have played thus far. We came out of the gate very strong. We led 24-18 at the end of the first quarter. Everything seemed to be clicking at the beginning of the game. Our defense was strong and the offense looked very well.

Our offensive rebounding is another positive. Coach is very encouraged by this and he said that we had 19 for the game. That's pretty impressive. We have a lot more size this year and that definitely helps out. Our front line is 6'10", 6'9" and 6'7."

It felt really good to be playing basketball competitively again. So many times last year we played to keep the score close and yesterday we were playing to win. We played hard last year but this is different. Unfortunately, all the emotions that come along with that were inside me and I was not a very fun person to be around after the game. That happens I guess. I try very hard to leave basketball at the gym and not to bring it home. This is especially important right now because I am married. I do not need to bring my bad attitude home to Liz but she is such a good wife that she understands.

We play more games in the league this year so we play another game on Wednesday. This is a good thing in my mind because a win can help us forget the loss and its another chance to play basketball. That's never a bad thing. It should be a very good game for us because we play Vacallo. They are the reigning Swiss champions and only 20 minutes away which means its also a derby (european word for rivalry.)

They are very talented and well coached. This game means a lot to me because I have a lot of friends playing for Vacallo. I want to play well against them and of course beat them. They also have some very good American/foreign players. They return a very solid point guard that has led them to 2 Swiss Cup championships and 1 league championship. Matt Schneidermann (Northern Iowa) is a 3 point shooting threat and a match up problem because of his height. The only new face this year is Duane Erwin for University of Memphis. I played against him when he played for Memphis and also in Switzerland when he played for Lugano. He is a terror on the boards and a very good team player.

Vacallo should be a great test for us and I can not wait for the game.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Some Things........

I'm in my 4th year of playing overseas now and some things still amaze me. I thought that I have seen it all but apparently I have not. We are two days away from playing our first official game against the most successful club (Fribourg Olympic) in Swiss basketball history and we do not have practice the day before the game. I'll say it again for affect, We do not have a team practice the day before the first game of the Swiss LNBA season. The Americans, if we want too, can come in and shoot on Saturday but the rest of the team does not have to come.

Somehow I can not picture this flying with some of my past coaches. I will not name any names but I have had 2-4 hour blood baths the day before games and sometimes the day of the game. Oh well, I just got back from enjoying some wine with my best friend and my wife in beautiful downtown Lugano. I guess we just have to focus on the positive.

Until next time.........

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Way Too Much Time on My Hands

I fully acknowledge that I have a pretty awesome job that I love. Fortunately or unfortunately it is impossible to do my job for 24 hours. Being away from the comforts of home I sometimes have a lot of time on my hands. The other day I was going through my DVD collection and realized that I never watched season 3 of 24. That was a huge mistake on my part because it was a great season not to mention an awesome show.

For about a week I watched the 24 episodes of the season. My teammates got annoyed at me and my idolization over Jack Bauer and how he is the man. So I asked them, who would you want to get you out of a tough situation if you were ever in one. That led me to think who I would want to get me out of a tough situation. Those of you who know me already know who I would trust and want but I came up with a great idea. I figured I could blog my Top 5 movie/television characters that I would trust to get me or the great US of A out of a jam.

There were a few criteria here. No super-heroes or people with super powers. So, while I love X Men and comic characters, they are not on the list. I also only chose shows that I watch or have watched. Some people may argue that their beloved character should be on the list but this is my list and not yours.

Here is my Top 5 people I would want to help me or America should trouble happen.

Horatio Caine from CSI Miami- I know he has not worked on a national scale but he always solves cases on CSI. It's amazing. The man is a genius and his one liners would just make me laugh. You have to love that and you have to love the mans glasses and his style. Horatio Caine ladies and gentlemen.

Batman- Here we go! This is the type of action guy I'm talking about. But wait, isn't Batman a comic book hero with super human powers. WRONG! My teammate Ross reminded me that Batman is a regular human being that just decided he needed to fight the evil of Gotham City. By the way, this is Christian Bale Batman and not the others. He is my favorite Batman and the one I want on my side if something were to ever go down. Maybe I could even get my own spotlight to shine in the sky if I were to get in a jam. Now that would be awesome! But in all seriousness, Batman is the man! He is a rich guy that fights evil for good. That's the type of guy I want on my side!
The A Team- I can remember watching the A Team as a little guy growing up. They had that really cool van and they had Mr T. Need I say more?
Jason Bourne- The Bourne movie series might possibly be my favorite move series of all time. Bourne speaks every language known to man and every fighting style ever invented. He is also ridiculously smart. He might have to be my European contact though considering all of the movies took place in Europe except for the third one to end in New York. There is the possibility that he might not help out the USA in a jam but I have to believe that he would because he has a good heart.
Jack Bauer- I think everyone saw this one coming. I think Jack could take every other person on the list by himself. This is truly a man that loves America. He is a patriot. After watching all the seasons of 24 I can say that Jack is the person I would want to get me out of a sticky situation. Once he has the Jack Bauer bag it's game over. Literally for all characters involved. I could keep going on and on about Jack but it might look like I have a man crush on him so instead I will just link a site here so people can know all the facts about the man.

So there it is. I hope you enjoyed the read and look forward to more pointless posts in the future because there are many more to come.

Until next time.........

Monday, September 28, 2009

Game Week

I really need to do a better job updating this blog but apparently I am too busy reading, watching 24 and playing video games to do it. I guess it's just the life of a lazy person with way too much time on his hands. I promise I will try to update this a little more.

Anyways, game week is upon SAM Massagno. Yes, after one month being in Switzerland, we get to play our first Swiss LNBA basketball game against Fribourg. A little background information on Fribourg. They are the most successful Swiss basketball club over this history of basketball in Switzerland. In my 3 previous years in the league they have completely dominated 2 of them. In my first year playing for Lugano, Fribourg won the League Cup, Swiss Cup and the Swiss Championship. We lost to the in the League Cup by around 30 points (the picture to the left is me playing in this blowout) and lost in the Swiss Championship in 4 games. Two years ago they won the League Cup and the Swiss Championship and last year they won the League Cup. That's not too shabby.

All that being said though, Fribourg appears to be a different team this year. They only have 2 import players (American/non Swiss.) That's unusual because they usual because they are allowed to have 7 and they usually have the allotted number. They are definitely going to be a very good team though. They have great coaching and veteran leadership. It will be a good test for us as our first game. I would rather play them now rather than later.

As I said earlier, we are in game week. It feels good to be finally working on an opponent. I was out of action last week because of ankle tendinitis. It was extremely painful and not very fun to have. Coach kept me out of practice for about a week and half while I went to the physical therapist and rehabbed and got better. The physical therapist here is extremely good and while at times they use questionable methods, I put all of my trust in them to get me better. With an open mind, Swiss medicine is excellent.

So, I'm close to 100% right not and feeling great. I also have good news because my friend Dan Fitzgerald is playing with me again. It felt great to take the court with him in practice for the first time in years. He looked great on the court tonight and apparently we didn't miss a beat because Coach told me that we worked very well together tonight. So that's a good thing. I just want to play some basketball.

Is it Sunday yet? Ill try and write some more later this week. Until then........

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pictures against Nyon

This is me throwing one down before the game versus some German team.
AND ONE!!!!!! Bucket and the foul against Nyon. I made the free throw in case you were wondering.
Jump hook against Wisconsin's own Michael Southall of Nyon.
Team picture. Probably the weakest picture ever. We definitely need to take a new one!


Its been awhile since my last post. We have just been going through the grueling pre-season. Its definitely a change from last year. Thats good though. It is more of a professional environment and it feels like a job this year. I like it but I think my body hates it.

We finally have a complete team now. Our point guard Vernon Hamilton finally came. Its good to have all the Americans here. We are still trying to get a feel for each other. This past weekend we played in a tournament in Basel. It was my first game situation since March 21 so it felt really good to get back out onto the court in a real competitive situation. Our opponent was Nyon and they are going to be very good this year. They have some familiar faces from last year and also some nice additions. The game was a little bit of a blowout but I guess that is to be expected since it was our first game action as a team. By comparison Nyon had already played 5 times and 3 of those games were against Euro League teams. We definitely showed some promise at times though but we have a lot to improve upon.

As for myself, I played pretty well considering the circumstances. My body is going through the usual pre season aches and pains. In our second game of the tournament I only played the first half because I had extreme pain in my legs. It was no fun. The good news is that I felt fantastic in practice tonight. I hope Im turning the corner. I went to get a massage last night and I have been taking Magnesium. Thats what the coaches tell me to do at least.

Im really looking forward to feeling great and playing great basketball again. I think its just right around the corner.

This was just a post about basketball but in the next post I will post about the fun Liz and I have had so far here.

Until next time. Keep fighting the good fight......

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pictures of Lake Lugano

Okay. As promised, here are the pictures of our Lake Lugano boat trip from this past weekend. As much as I would like too, I can not take any credit for the pictures. All the credit goes to my wife Liz. The one above is the typical Lugano picture with San Salvatore on the right and Italy in the background. Its unbelievable!

This is what we were surrounded by on the whole trip. It was awesome!

This is a town that sits on the lake. There is a botanical garden running down the left side of the church. Its beautiful and we hope to visit there soon. And yes that is a cemetery on the side too.
This is a picture of us anchored going for a swim. Does life get any better than this?

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Week

Okay. Here is my first real attempt at blogging. Ill just give a little recap of the week. I have to say, the first week here has been really good and challenging. Liz and I arrived in the Lugano airport on Monday afternoon and were taken to our new home right away. I thought that maybe I would be able to catch a nap or something but that was certainly not the case. We had practice that night and before I could practice I had to pass one of these tough European physicals.

My new teammates and I waited in the hospital waiting room for about an hour and a half for our names to be called. When I was finally called in (after fighting off sleeping in the chair) the doctor asked me if I was having any problems with my joints and if I was sick or not. Then he listened to my lungs and sent me on my way out. The whole ordeal maybe took 5 minutes. I'm not kidding. I passed with flying colors though.

So after the "physical" I had to run back to our apartment and change and then meet the team on the track. Now, running and conditioning is probably the worst part of playing basketball. I hate it with a passion. I am 6'10" 270 pounds. God did not build me to run around a track. I can do it but I don't like it. That being said, I thought that since it was the first day of running after a long summer off and after the Americans just coming in, we were going to jog a couple laps and that was going to be it. I could not have been more wrong.

We did a little warm up and then got right into it. The first thing we did was run a mile and a half in 8:30. I couldn't believe I actually did it. Then we had to run 3 laps in 4 minutes. The rest of the work out consisted of situations like this but I can't remember it because it was such a traumatic experience that my brain has actually blocked it out.

The rest of the week went the same except we went to our gym, Palamondo, to shoot every afternoon. Palamondo actually translates into ball world. You have to love language translations. I would never go to a place in the United States called Ball World.

This weekend was actually pretty awesome too. Rega, (friend from last year and member of the SAM society) took us out on his boat on Lake Lugano. It was an AMAZING experience. I have lived in Ticino for 2 years but never made it out onto the lake. This is such an unbelievable place to live. I will try to post some pictures next time because whatever words I write down will not do it justice. We cruised around on the lake between the Alps for about 4 hours and then went back in. Lugano had a festival going on called Blues to Bop that was pretty cool. I couldn't stay out very late or much at all because I was so tired from the week. I'm trying to really get my body in great shape this year.

Well, we are done with conditioning on the track now and I'm pretty happy about it. Its a great occasion. Tomorrow we actually take the court as a team. I cant wait. Ill fill everyone in on it soon.

Until next time.........