Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Playoff time is here in Switzerland! It has been a long season and we now have the opportunity to earn what we worked so hard for, a Swiss LNBA Championship. We won our last regular season game against Monthey (completing the sweep of our Valaisan opponents) guaranteeing us the 7th seed and playing defending league champion Vacallo.

One win was all that separated us from the 7th and 8th seed so we needed to win against Monthey. If we finished in the 8th position we would play 1st place Lugano. After the Monthey victory, a reported asked me if we were trying to avoid Lugano. I was a little bothered by the question. As an athlete and as a person, I never try to avoid any challenge put in front of me. Also, as a competitor, I always want to finish in the best possible position. I would never try to avoid anything if it meant winning or losing. We came in to Monthey to win and secure the 7th seed and that was what we did.

With the 7th seed secured and the match ups set, we had to prepare for Vacallo. The league schedule allowed us to have 2 weeks off. Coach took it easy on us in practice by having the conditioning coach came in so we could run and stay in shape without any contact. He also gave us a 3 day weekend so we could rest up and heal any injuries. During that time span we also played a friendly game against Lugano so we could shake the rust off and try some new things out.

Playing against Vacallo meant that we would have a derby for the first round of the playoffs. A derby is the Euro word for cross town rivalry game. The atmosphere at the derbies are always exciting. The fans are always banging drums, blowing air horns and singing. It is pretty cool to be a part of.

We started the best of 5 series on Sunday at Vacallo. Going into the game we knew that it was going to be tough without Dan but our awful play did not help the situation. Vacallo is a well coached team and they were ready for us. They disrupted our offense by ball pressure, getting into the passing lanes and double teams. It was probably our worst game of the year. Nothing went right for us.

The good thing though is that it is not a 1 game series. We have another shot at them on Wednesday and we had a great practice last night with a lot of intensity. I think we will come ready to play for Game 2.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Familiar Sights

I met Nicolas Porchet 4 years ago while I was playing for Lugano. While we were playing against his team, I saw him warming up in a UW- Milwaukee shirt. I told him I went to Marquette and my girlfriend (wife now) went to UWM. Nic is Swiss but he was familiar with all the colleges because his brother lived in West Allis for a number of years. When we played his team, Monthey, at home earlier this year he came into the gym wearing a red Wisconsin sweat shirt. When I saw the shirt I asked him what he was thinking and he said he was just trying to get into my head before the game. He also said that the next time I saw him he would have his Marquette shirt on.

When we played at Monthey this past Saturday, I walked into the gym and Nic was shooting around in his gold Marquette sweatshirt. Liz noticed it first and she thought it was pretty awesome and snapped a picture. It's nice to get a little Marquette love 5,000 miles away.

I grew up in Michigan and Miller really isn't the beer of choice there. It was obviously different when I moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette. Miller was everywhere and I lived a mile away from the factory. When I turned 21, I would enjoy an ice cold Miller product every now and then. That has all changed now that I am in Europe. Instead of having a Miller Lite or a Budweiser, we will have a Feldschlosschen, Lowenbrau or a Carlsberg. The Euro beers are alright but I would much rather have an American brew.

The other day I was at the local Coop (grocery store) and saw something glorious. While searching for pancakes I spotted a 6 pack of MGD's. I don't drink a lot but I knew I needed to get it. Drinking a MGD reminds me of home a little bit and being so far away, I will take anything I can get.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Injury Update

Injuries are a part of the game. Everybody that plays any sport knows that they might get hurt during the course of training, practice or games. It could be anything from a jammed finger, sprained ankle or broken bones. These types of things happen. Two years ago I managed to break both of my thumbs in the same season.

The real challenge isn't the actual injury, it is how you deal with it mentally and physically. Being in another country adds a different variable to everything. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or you can do something about it.

Recently, my teammate and best friend (Dan Fitzgerald) went down with a season ending injury (the season is almost over so anything can be a season ending injury right now.) Dan was pretty upset about it as were all of us because he is our second leading scorer and we are about to start the playoffs. I have to say though, he is doing an incredible job of dealing with everything. He is not sitting around the apartment sulking or even giving off negative vibes. If it weren't for the crutches, I would think that nothing happened to him.

The injury is hard to deal with as it is but being in Switzerland makes it harder. As I mentioned in a previous post, finding a doctor that speaks fluent English is a challenge. It is a constant struggle to get the right response you are looking for. Also, Dan is far away from his family and friends and the medical treatment he is familiar with. His injury has been diagnosed but he is still waiting on what treatment options are available. It may be possible to go home and receive treatment through the team's insurance but he does not yet know the answer. Going home would be the best option because he will have doctors who speak english as well as having his family around him during the very important recovery process. If going home is not an option, then he would have treatment here for insurance purposes. In the mean time, Dan is waiting to find out the answer.

Unfortunately another former teammate of mine, Mike Kinsella, was recently injured as well. He hurt himself much the same way that Dan had. Instead of going home for treatment, he had opted to have the procedure done in Germany. A few days after the injury he had surgery by one of the top 5 surgeons in the country who frequently operates on the professional German soccer players. He is receiving phenomenal care in Freiburg, Germany and the team is doing a great job in assisting with his recovery. In fact, the German Olympic Volleyball team doctor is overseeing his recovery. For those that are familiar with Mike's basketball career, he is no stranger to unfortunate accidents. I am confident that he will return to 100%.

As shocking as injuries can be, I would say that how you deal with them mentally determines how you are going to recover. My friends have great attitudes and are both hard workers. I am impressed at how Dan and Mike are dealing with their injuries. I know that they will get back to where they were because they play the game and injuries are just part of the game.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Groin Bump

There are plenty of ways to celebrate a good play. Many people prefer the high five. It is classic and you can't go wrong with it. The only way to incorrectly perform a high 5 is if your name is Mike Kinsella and you miss Coach Crean's hand 3 times in a row.

There is also the raising of the roof. I remember seeing the Red Wings doing it after a Stanley Cup win and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. I personally have never performed this move because I have never lived for a moment that called for the roof to be raised.

Throwing bows was the thing to do in high school. It seems pretty stupid now but it was pretty awesome then. Throwing a bow is just the touching of forearms between two friends, in case you were wondering.

Another popular form of celebration is the chest bump. In high school I used to chest bump Josh Beckett during warm ups. At Marquette we used to have the extreme celebration after wins. The extreme celebration includes 2 or more people running into a chest bump.

The thing is, anyone can high five, raise the roof, throw a bow or chest bump. Here in Massagno we are trying something new. We came up with the groin bump. It takes a little time getting used to but I think its going to be the next big thing. You be the judge. Photo courtesy of Dominika Dabrowski.