Once we were all settled in the hotel we either got pizzas or went out to eat. The favorite place was TGI Fridays and if we were lucky Coach Crean let us have milk shakes for desert. These are all great but the best part about being on the road was not having to get up early in the morning and not going to class. This was huge for me because in my 4 years of college I only skipped 2 classes and they were on the same day.
It was also awesome to go into other arenas and win. There is no better feeling than hearing 20,000 fans in Freedom Hall silent at the end of the game or to play at Notre Dame and come out with a victory. Oh, how things have changed.
Life in Switzerland is a lot different. I am playing professional basketball but sometimes it sure doesn't feel like it. I am sure it is not the same experience as my old teammates that are in the NBA have. On January 30th we took our longest trip of the season to Geneva. There were no planes, no 5 star hotels, no chicken wings, no steaks, not even a milk shake. Just a bus.
If you look at the map of Switzerland above you will notice that it is a small country and the distance between any two cities is not that far. What the map doesn't show though is the mountains that Switzerland is famous for. In fact, 70% of the country is covered in them and you have to drive around them and not over them. This is what makes road trips so hard and long.
So, at 8:50 am on January 30th we left Massagno (by Bellinzona on the map) and took off for Geneva on a 6 and a half hour road trip. It was a little rough. Thankfully though my designated seat on the bus is the back seat. For those unfamiliar with European buses the back seats are 5 across which means I can lay on all the seats in somewhat of a bed. I like the back seat and I was able to sleep the first 2 and a half hours.
About midway through the trip we stopped off in a little Swiss German town for our pre game meal. This must be standard all over the world because we had the same thing we used to have at Marquette. Our meal consisted of salad, pasta and chicken. The only thing missing was ranch sauce. I don't know how this has not made its way over to Europe. The Euros are really missing out. For desert they gave us apple pie. I now know why there is a saying called as American as apple pie. This was no American apple pie. I don't even know what to call it.
Anyways, we left the restaurant and had about 2 hours left in the trip. Now, you may be thinking that Geneva is a big city so they probably have a big arena with crazy screaming fans. The Geneva Devils moved to a new arena this year and it is terrible. They play in an indoor bike racing track that is around the court. The actual basketball court feels more like the infield at a track meet than a court. It also doesn't help that the lines are taped on either. I swear, I can not make this stuff up. The only regret I have is that I didn't bring a camera.
After the long trip our legs were a little tired so we started slow. Thankfully the 54 people in the crowd weren't really into the game so the Devils didn't have much of a home court advantage. It definitely wasn't pretty but after our slow start we controlled the rest of the game easily.
The importance of the game wasn't lost on us either. If we lost we went from 7th place all the way down to 9th. Thankfully we won 88-78 and held on to our position.
This was important too because the 3rd round of games are determined by the teams position in the standings. Since we finished in 7th place we play the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 1st place teams at home. As long as we beat the lower teams and take care of business at home then we should make the playoffs.
The long trip home feels so better after a win. Everybody was in such a good mood that we stopped at McDonalds for dinner and we even watched a movie in English. It made it go by so much faster.
Now it is on to the next one!