Remember the time when you thought the world was round...?

user-pic

October 12, 2007...Friday morning...Practice has begun, it's about 9:30am, we've been at it for 30 mins. now...So, let me digress, transgress or regress, your choice here friends...Hmmm, how do I set up the visual here...?

An idyllic Caribbean Beach in the West Indies, no one around you, everything is quiet,except for the intermittent sound "waves" rolling ashore... blue skies above, no clouds on the horizon, just the sails of passing yachts...and you're thinking to yourself: "this is great, quiet, no phone calls, no interruptions, tranquility has no ending at this point laying on the sand...eyes closed, it's too good to be true...and then all of a sudden: splaaaat (similar to an egg yolk being turned over by a 8 year old on a frying pan)...I raise up, eyes open only to see the tailfeathers of the only freakin BIRD in the sky...AND "it" FOUND ME...

Back to practice and the pending mental pause that interrupted our practice plan...I was "summoned" to the sideline during a Wing Release/Denial/Backcut Defensive Drill (and we were really doing well with this sequence, mind you), and here was the owner, with an older gentleman alongside of him, no SunJun, GM of team, the fella who is the "Larry Bird" of China basketball, absent from this summons, and my translator Pancake, who has this look upon his face, similar to my look when my first "meal" in Russia two weeks ago was Russian Chinese Food...Anyway, the owner me wants to "meet" the new Assistant Coach that he has hired to help me, since the young assistant coach is currently in Memphis with 15 other CBA (Chinese Basketball Coaches) observing the U of Memphis Men's Basketball program at the invitation of Coach John Calipari, Men's coach there...So, for the last week I have been working well with the team, making unbelievable headway with all the players and excited about our progress, and just like the scenario on the aforementioned beach, I am introduced without any prior knowledge from the GM that we were adding a "coach" to the staff...Our owner then asks to address the team and now introduces same to the players and they too had that same "Splaaat" look upon their faces when the owner was through explaining who this person was...Now, keep in mind, I wear a rubber band on my left wrist to "remind" me always that in basketball one has to be flexible and make adjustments at any time...this was an "any time" episode that called for me to stay focused and get through our practice to the end...I figured the new assistant would be sitting on the sideline watching and taking notes, and after we broke from a short water break, he was gone...I mean, I was looking for him: he was wearing Army Fatigue pants with dress shoes, a vest covering a long sleeve shirt and a smile that indicated he needed to change the filter cigarettes he smokes because it was having a negative effect on the enamel of his teeth...and he was gone...I asked Pancake where he was, and he said he didn't know...Our two American players asked me if the new assistant coach was going to watch the rest of practice, and I said your guess is as good as mine...The beach scene "wipe" after the "splaaat" obviously ruined the rest of the practice...We struggled for the next hour and a half, and my hopes and wishes for a "safe" practice was met with just that: no one got hurt...Before practice, I always meet with the team and review what we're going to focus on in practice and tell them how hard we must work and help one another improve, and this morning's pre-practice meeting was concluded with a 'surprise' from me: "how many of you would like to go swimming this afternoon?"...you should have seen the smiles and heard the laughter when it was translated...I "knew" then, that my "beach" day was about to be perfect, especially after the first four weeks of transition and new skills learning these players have experienced to date...After practice, I asked Pancake to call SunJun, so I could find out what was going on and why he didn't fill me in on this visit and addition...Pancake said that SunJun "he apologize, he sorry but did not know himself that new assistant was put in place and he will see you tomorrow morning at practice (Saturday)..."...Hmmm, I said to myself, "that is NOT a good sign, the GM, the most popular basketball person in China "knows nothing about this owner's move...", where I come from (NBA-wise), that sends me a non verbal message that all is not right in Shangra La...and I was to be right about that "feeling" later...

Swimming Pool Practice: we had a BLAST!! The players were so excited and had so much fun in the pool with one another, I wish I had a camera to record the smiles and fun that was had by all...First off, this indoor pool had two pools, one Olympic size pool and the other a half-size Olympic 6' deep surround pool that we used...We "warmed" up with some leg stretching, then some 4 step sprints with interval 4 step walks, then we did a 4 man "weave" with a bathing cap and believe me when I tell you how much fun they had with that set...I ended up having a contest with 4 teams, having them go down and back with the winning time getting four Gatorades...Gosh, you should have seen how each team was being cheered on by the other...It WAS a Kodak moment and for an hour and a half no one remembered what had transpired earlier in the morning...oh yeah, didn't see the assistant coach in a swim suit either...he was AWOL...not sure where he was...no one asked either...less I forget, I was not in the pool in my Speedo as the other players were, including Pancake...Man oh man, did we have a blast...My "next" surprise will be a bowling party with Pizza Hut pizzas next Friday night...we'll also have teams then...I'll fill you in on that "if" there are no "other" changes in order...by the way, our season starts officially October 28th, at home...I'll include the schedule to our website...it is a shortened season this year in the CBA because of the Olympics coming to China in '08 and the CBA wants their National Team Players training in preparation for this event...So that means it will be over in late Feb. if the Playoffs go our way...My next blog will cover Saturday and the "rest of the story..." Part II...Coach tom

comment on Remember the time when you thought the world was round...?...