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.........