Post Game Notes: Game Two vs. Aussies

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Post Game Notes from the night before...We lost this exhibition 98-86...arena full (4,000)...Floor: one could hear "brakes" all night as players were changing directions left to right, very easily...

Not a Happy Camper was I during this game as the Aussies decided to demonstrate continuous "cross check blocks" in this "friendly" game and our players, with the exception of the Americans and a couple of the People's players, wilted...sank...resigned...use your imagination here...What exactly is a "cross check block" you ask? It's between a Hockey check (with pads on across the mid section/shoulders) and Football Block, the kind that Mr. Jones from the Hawks applies on Sundays so well...I LOVED it, I have to tell you, mainly because I wanted to see how we would react to the Officials on the road NOT calling fouls; stopping in their tracks and looking at the Refs as though something SHOULD have been called here; backing down; not blocking out on weakside and going to the boards strong for missed shots and so on...I mean as a new coach this is what you live for: exhibition games, new teams, unforeseen attitudes towards adversity and most of all their "hearts" for competition or not, when "down" and failing miserably...I never worry about the score in a game, I am only concerned about how hard the players are playing, effort-wise, and of course if they're playing together...We are young, inexperienced in the backcourt and last night was the epitome' of what my job is cut out to entail: teaching the guards how to lead a team into their offense and putting pressure on the ball at all times...Before I get into the gist of my Post Game notes here, let me qualify one thing for those of you who are gleaning technical information from this "blogit": I don't call Timeouts...I learned from my father and of course John Wooden and Tex Winter and Marv Harshman, that WHEN you call the first timeout, it gives the players an excuse to complain to one another IF things are going south in a hurry and really, when you think about it, it gives the other team the "sense" that you're in trouble when you take the timeout...Now I know there are two lines being drawn here and this is open to debate, which I welcome, but I think you need to understand "what" I'm trying to teach this "new" team of mine, with 2 new Americans on the roster and a foreign coach...You see, I told them on the first day of practice that we would NOT call timeouts in a game UNLESS it was at the end of the game and we needed to get the right players in and set up a special play...It was explained daily that our "work in the laboratory" aka, gym, was where we "take" all of our timeouts to "correct" a problem on the court, as we will "know" to a man where we need to make adjustments and do so...Last night we were down early in the game, like 12 to 1, giving up 6 points off turnovers and transition plays on missed shots...I stood up and said nothing, thus reminding them that we will not panic on the road, we will not take a timeout to correct a team problem and that we will communicate together as to what we need to do to get on track again...It was a great lesson as we realized that the ball needed to go inside to our "footer" (7' Steve Castleberry) and let him make plays for us, passing and post moves...He did just that and we got fouled a couple of times moving without the ball and receiving a pass and going strong to the basket...Now we're only down 12-6, no panic timeout, I'm calm, reminding the defense to "get up contact deny in the lanes halfcourt"...you should hear my Chinese...then the wheels come off again, our Pastry Chef, Spider, took it upon himself to go one on one, miss the layup, then take a 3 ball, then get his posterior embarrassingly beat bad by Sedale Threatt Jr. on an And1 move, and forgetting quickly what his responsibilities were in leading the team at the point...I mercifully substituted him with our 29 yr. old "Pops" (my nickname for him because he is the only player married on team with a child, and the second oldest), and right away we had stability in the backcourt on offense...The only problem was Pops tried to Pushpoint Threatt to the sideline with the ball and that didn't happen as Threatt made the ball appear as though it was made by Samsonite, 'cause he had a handle on it that went right to left very well and very quick to the Officials eyes, but not to mine...So we had to "help" contain Threatt and many great lessons were experienced in the applications of rotations and helpside defense...Again, no timeout, and they had to work it out on the court...Now you might say that's a copout or "how could you leave them like that...?"...well, when you've learned how to swim and you accidentally fall into the deep end, your instincts should kick in at that moment, anxiety aside, and you begin to swim...It's the same in basketball, you must learn how to communicate through repetition of team drills and exercise, and when you do it will be easy to recognize when the situation arises in a game...So, when our players faced this scenario (by the way, we practiced this very situation for an hour and half last practice before the games commenced), we looked but didn't read and react or rotate properly...Fouls occurred and players looked at me, and I motioned to my lips, and they ALL to a man, nodded...it was a "lesson" learned without worrying about whose mistake it was and the running score...which at the time was up to an Aussie 16 point lead...and then by 23 at the end of 2 qtrs...What disappointed me the most in the first half? Our Pastry Chef, Spider...He just doesn't "get it", and yet he was making progress in practice to the point where I really began to think (there's that dangerous word for me again), that he was...This I know about players and habits: they're like spots on a leopard: they don't change...For him to "crossover" to a more defined position, that will improve his skills and his teams', it will be a work in progress...let's put it this way: the Bakery was open in the first half and our Chef did a great job presenting his "works"...Overall my displeasure was more from a reactionary point of view than negative vibes...We watched teammates shoot from the perimeter, and then NOT anticipate the offensive board nor rotate quickly enough back on defense...Of the 60 points we gave up in the first half, we had 16 turnovers, shot around 32% from the field and acted like ushers at a Harry Potter Premiere showing: "Come right in and go wherever you wish..."...

Halftime Address...or Exhortation 101 Verse 1 Game II...

I told them there were no excuses for NOT making transition on defense and picking up the ball early and ready to defend the penetration in the half court...I explained that when I make substitutions, it is for the purpose to develop a "core" unit of players who WE can depend upon when the season officially starts, and that this physical game is a "cupcake" compared to the NBA and Euro games overseas...I told them that when a team gets physical like that early, it is a sign that they are tired and don't want to move their feet and SEE if the Officials will or not make the personal foul calls...The Officials didn't (again I was so happy they didn't) and we gave up, quit, stopped competing, always expecting the Official to stop play and make things right, as the Aussies went the other way for a layup...I also explained that when you sit on the bench and you're given an opportunity to help your team out of their misery, you must begin by playing defense and following the rules of weakside help and rotations...Then at the end I had one of my better attention getters: I got passionate for them and explained how important it was to "fight back" and knock a few of those opponents on their derrieres now and then, to block out better by bending your knees and keeping your hands up for anticipating the rebounds, but most of all talk on defense to help one another not to complain about something after the fact...this rolled over into me addressing our oldest veteran player of 32yrs. of age, and in his second year with the Club...His nickname is Chuck, and he plays the role of the "Mummy" better than Boris Karloff ever did (ahh, kids, he was an old time scary movie actor...good one too)...Anyways, ol Chuck got two opportunities to get into the game in the first half and it was not pretty...Here he is a veteran, not a starter ever in the CBA before, and he is not executing anything at either end of the court with any effort whatsoever...Fortunately, we made a little run and the Aussies took a timeout and I spoke directly to him about "needing" his leadership...his response: "the Officials are not calling anything..."...I made an indelible imprint on my bball MB (memory bank) to be sure to address that comment at halftime...I did...here is how it went: "Chuck, I am not going to play you one minute in the second half...you have been given two opportunities to help your team off the bench and in both cases your effort was lacking in comparison to your teammates...In fact, Chuck, I need you to go see Doc (our trainer) and ask him to take your pulse, because IF you have one, you need to get to the hospital and get an IV going so you can stay alive, 'cause right now you are playing like you have NO PULSE...Do you understand me, Chuck?" He just nodded, and looked at me...I then proceeded to raise my voice to the team and challenge each of their manhood with this simple reminder: "You are a Jilin Tiger..play like a Tiger...play with heart and passion...play with the spirit that has made this team famous for competition in the CBA, don't quit, compete...." And with that we went out and believe it or not did just that: we kicked back and began competing with the Aussies physical play...it was a work in progress watching this metamorphosis take place and realizing all too well that we would probably not sustain it, but it didn't matter, I "learned" that they do in fact listen, they do in fact have pride and that they do care about competing and representing the name Jilin Tigers...the 'only' player who failed in his redux: you guessed it: The Chef...

We lost by 12, gained some admirable respect amongst ourselves as teammates and coaches and held our heads high...I was positive with them after the game and told them that "if" this is the way we can compete on the road when we face adversity and NOT forget the rules on defense, then we'll be happy to man when the Championship season is completed...

One note on the Aussies...They really did come out and literally "kick" our behinds like we stole their Foster's Lager...I was taken aback somewhat, but "knew" this was their way of covering their fatigue and I welcomed the opportunity to "see and learn" from our players reactions or non...

We're off tomorrow morning and then hit it again in the afternoon from 3-5pm...I have to leave immediately afterwards with DuJuan and Steve and Joe Guan our translator for a drive to Beijing to get a Visa for the trip to Russia on Tuesday for the tournament coming up there...Evidently, the Russians don't care that we are working in China with a certification, they want to meet us personally...I am not real "keen" on driving again at night in China, folks, so I might bite the bullet on this one and go by air...The reason for leaving tomorrow night, is so that we will be at the Embassy to meet the Consular and get the Visa and return immediately following the visit there...Sometimes, planning goes a long way in preparation...

Will "blogit" when we get to Russia...

Special Note to Doug Strauss and Family: I am so sorry to read, where Gloria, your gift from God, passed peacefully yesterday...Please know my prayers and hope for you and your Family's comfort at this time are in my thoughts...

Coach tom

Niaho...okay, I'm on the road again, early Saturday morning, 7ish and working on this "blogit"...It's a quiet, less traveled road on this day than it was on Friday morning, meaning not many people are working this early OR just getting a late start...Afterall, they ALL work and have jobs to do, somewhere, sometime, anywhere, anytime...That's the People's way of life here, I'm learning daily...

Bussey's "concerto avec horns" has been a rude "awakening" to some animals and their passengers this morning, trust me: I never knew donkeys could turn their heads around that quickly when hearing the blast from afar or nearby...still no birds in sight...we've crossed two main rivers now and it has dawned on me why the fish they call "delicacies" are pure as the River is brown...Guess I won't be trying "that" delicacy while I'm here...Back to the road again...Bussey is beginning to "warm up" again, as he has matched beeps to my last 60 letters...Why? We're passing through small hamlets right now and it's busy with kids, bikes and cycles...small tractors too...I cannot imagine what this road must have looked like 20 years ago: dirt, mudholes, stuck trucks, no bikes, cars, but the mule drawn carts were able to make their way...did I ever metion to you about the "springs" on this bus? Let's see, try to imagine an old spring mattress and the rhythmic sound it would make as the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round...Parents would understand my metaphor there, I'm sure...The traffic is really building up fast now, it's 9:30 am and tour buses are the rage opposite Bussey's lane...he is NOT a happy Driver right now, as he is very limited in his ability to pass anyone except walkers...Hope there isn't 6 degrees of Irish in his DNA right now...we're due for a "Rest Area" stop soon...as players behind me are awake again and that means they're restless...let's see how long it takes before he stops...We passed through a larger "hamlet" and this town was a bustling, let me tell you...we crawled through the center as this is where the highway runs, and to the right and left were merchants selling their wares and vegetables and animals and anything else that is edible and can be consumed, worn or shared...It was an unbelievable sight, and pictures will follow...And yet, it "flowed", people not once afraid nor intimidated by the traffic moving snakelike around the them...I didn't hear one horn tone for the two minutes it took to break on through to the other side (oh yeah, Jim Morrison is ringin in my mindtrack right now!!)...I see this, I marvel at it and yet for the life of me, as I asked my assistant coach, YoYo, "this is amazing, people go about their business and so does the traffic, respectfully, YET we can't even run a fast break right let alone play defense...why is that? He started to laugh as did so many others when it was translated...It is kind of funny when you think about it...It's 9:25 and the players are getting antsy...my guess is that we'll be stopping in 20 mins...just a guess...Late notice: Steve and DuJuan (my two Americans) say that we are at 496 beeps and counting....WE STOPPED...it's 9:28am...I was wrong...we still have 2 and a half hours to go based upon the "slow" moving traffic...Bussey got off the bus again to smoke 3 cigarettes...EVERY male (except the players) seems to smoke...it's an amazing scene...talk about addictive behavior...it's in living color here for sure...

We made it back safely, it's around 11:45am...all's good...I was very tired and happy to get back to my room and relax a bit...Watched Jerry McGuire on Star Movies in English on my TV...also have HBO too, as well as ESPN, but they don't show my favorite Fall Sports: College Football on Saturday and NFL on Sunday...Talk about "withdrawals"...if anybody out there knows how I can get online live video stream of the Dawgs, Hawks, Sonics, Seattle U, SPU hoops, PLEEZE let me know, then I can enjoy my Green Tea, watch and listen to my favorite NW teams...

Sunday morning, 6:30am...up and at'em...we have practice this afternoon, so I am working off the notes from previous two games that we will have to address in practice...No big deal, just little technical on court reviews, whereby I put the players in a game "freeze frame" and ask each on offense what they "see", then do the same on "defense"...I learned this a long time ago from Bernie Bickerstaff when we coached in Seattle together and along with Bob Kloppenburg, who was the defensive coach, we, as a team understood where the mistake(s) we're made...Then we warmed up and stretched...I like it because it gives me a chance to help them recall exactly the play(s) we failed to execute properly, and in this case, on our disruptive pressure defense that I employ with our team...This defensive philosophy was learned by me through my mentor on defense, Coach Ernie Woods, Hall of Fame Washington State Community College Basketball order...He has been the most positive and influential colleague I have ever had the pleasure of sharing ideas and strategies with to date...He has a website called Hooptactics.com or you can go online to cybersportsusa.com and link to his site that he has with Coach Bob Kloppenburg...It is the BEST basketball resource "channel" any coach at any level could ever imagine available at this time on the internet...Coaches: go to it...you won't believe how easy it is to read and learn about yourself and your team...

Hope everyone has a great weekend...it's clear and sunny today...glory...Oh, less I forget...last night at the hotel restaurant where I ate dinner, the music in the background was "Joy to the World..." NOT by Three Dog Night Either...it was an instrumental strings only rendition...then "Winter Wonderland" was next...I cracked up...guess they're reminding me early to get my presents now for home to send in October? They 'know' me well...I am the worse letter writer, Xmas present organizer and doer than one could imagine...I usually wait until the last two days of Christmas...BUT...I knew in my mind what I want to get for the family, just don't want to deal with the crowds...been that way all my life...Stay "tooned", I'll share with you again the "latest" music to eat "Burnt to Egg Plant" by...Coach tom

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