Sunday, October 3, 2010

Herten Castle and Home Opener

             After our first league win last weekend we had a a good week of practice filled with running, running, and more running. When we got to practice on Tuesday and Coach declared that it would be a 'pain day'. I was not too excited but figured that since we only played once a week, Tuesday would be a good day to test the legs and get up and down the floor a little. Unfortunately, most of 'pain day' had nothing to do with basketball drills and focused instead on full court sprints and an absurd amount of defensive slides. We also have this rule that for every game we win, we go through an EXTRA set of the final conditioning drill. Even with my Economic degree from Williams I have not been able to understand this perverse incentive structure.

             Though without the title, pain day carried over to Wednesday and Thursday's practices as well. I can honestly say I did more conditioning in season this week than I have in the last two years at Williams. We may not know our plays or talk on defense, but at least we won't be tired.

            Despite dead legs we won our home opener last night in front of a pretty good home crowd. We have a pretty funny introduction where we all start out in this small room and then come out to a green strobe light through some fake smog and run through a tunnel of cheerleaders. This would have been fine if they didn't leave the door to the team room open when they were testing the fog machine. The team room filled with smoke and I had to hold my breath until they called my name. 
           We jumped out to an early lead and were up 20 by the end of the first. We more or less kept that lead the rest of game. It was pretty physical, but I managed not to get any technicals or any other obscure fines so I was pretty happy (the team cut my fine for the technical last week in half because of the absurdity of the call but i still have to pay $15).  I did however catch the ball standing out of bounds on the wing twice, so there is still room for improvement. Marcus was on fire and had 33. I chipped in 21 and our big man Hack cleaned up the glass. The other team ran a bunch of screen plays for non-shooters, which didn't make too much sense to me, but I wasn't complaining. 

our cheerleaders in action

definitely missed this one
                After the game the whole team had to go to the press conference to introduce ourselves and what not. As we were walking up to the press conference, still sweating and in our jerseys, we were handed a beer to help rejuvenate our bodies. Again, a little different then what I am used to, but Charlie informed me that there were some studies that beer, in moderation of course, was the best sports recovery drink. Maybe these Germans are on to something.

      After the long week we had a much needed two days off. The game was pretty physical and I was very soar, especially after the whip lash I suffered on this play, check out the sequence of events. The defenders knee tuck and wrist positioning in the second picture is my favorite. The part where the other guys hip goes into my neck and the other guys knee goes into my back is my least favorite.

everything is going well so far
then it starts to get ugly
the wort part was the foul was on the ground so I didn't even get to shoot freethrows
               Earlier in the week I was able to fit a visit to the Herten Castle into my busy schedule. The only parking that I could find near the castle was in a nearby furniture shop. There were customer only parking signs everywhere (well what I guessed that they were customer parking only signs because I can't really read German) so I decided to take a stroll through the store and at least pretend to be a customer. As I was making the rounds and making sure that store employees noticed me in case I got a ticket, I stumbled upon this awesome bunk bed. If i had this bed when I was younger (in blue of course), I might be blogging from the NBA instead of from Germany.

    The castle itself doesn't compare in size to the one I visited earlier in Wurzburg, but it was still pretty cool. It is crazy to imagine that these castles are nearly a thousand years older than the entire US. The castle is in the middle of the city, but it is surrounded by a forest on all sides and you don't know it's there until you are right up on it. Some of the guys on my team who live here didn't even know it existed.

         Surrounding the castle is a bunch of farmland and lakes which were cool to walk around. There wasn't anything too exciting about this cow except that I managed to beat her in a staring contest.

      I also went over to one of my teammate's apartment and helped him to do some painting. The first painting session was postponed when he realized (after I had driven over there and changed) that he was out of paint, but we took care of business the next day.

Check out the impeccable form
      I have never been very artistic and I guess that carries over to general apartment painting skills as well. I wasn't the best, but I was trying. One might say I shouldn't quit my day job, but I don't really have one so that isn't a problem. In addition to getting the room painted, I also exposed my teammate to country music. He says he likes slow songs by female country artists, odd taste for a 6'7 German, but I guess you have to start somewhere.

     I also had my first professional interview with a city paper this week. It was a pretty standard interview except for the whole language barrier thing and the fact that there was a photographer standing directly over the interviewers shoulder taking pictures of me for 40 minutes. Oh and there was also the the part where he kept commenting on my white teeth and asking me if my parents were strange or had 'strange minds' because of the names they gave my brothers and me.

      The Ryder Cup has inspired my golf game and my desire to represent the U.S. on the links. One of the guys on the team works at a golf course so I am trying to get out there. Unfortunately, the weather here is pretty similar to Wales so I have to find a good day to get out there.

      Our Coach has also promised to set Marcus and me up with a young female German tutor. I think he was kidding about the young female part, but I'm excited to get started either way.

Random observations:
Germans don't do the courtesy head-nod when you walk by strangers. In the States when you make eye contact with someone as you are walking by them you usually give a slight head-nod or smile, but every time I do that here I am just greeted with a straight faced mean mug or a look of surprise.

In the same vein, Germans love to cut in line. Every time I am at the grocery store, if I so much as turn away from the check-out line, some old German man immediately cuts me. It's like clock-work.

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