Groundhog Day Sequel: again and again and again and again...

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November 12, 2007...10am...on a connecting flight to Shanghai...we play tomorrow night...guess I'll learn what "Shanghaid" means after hearing it for so many years growing up and watching John Wayne movies back in the black and white TV daze...

How to describe my current mental state and feelings for the game of basketball right now....hmmm, if Dr. Naismith and his current North American disciples could watch our "team" defense right now, and be asked how to describe it, here's what I'm sure the collective observations would be: "They remind me of 5 men visually impaired, hearing impaired, mute, and playing with no limbs..."...Translated: 5 guys with no vision, can't hear or talk and have no arms...Considering the maneless condition of my scalp, I believe that some pharmaceutical company, rivaling Rogaine, should retain my services as a spokesperson to see if in fact a coach of my pedigree CAN indeed grow back hair that has recently been pulled out...the way I'm headed (no pun intended), there's a good chance that the healthy "crop" on my chest is next for pulling out...I have never in my basketball life been so challenged as a coach to convey the simplistic fundamental values of team defense before and during a season...if my brain cells are being replaced, rejuvenated or invigorated by this experience then Dr. Timothy Leary missed the "boat" when he chose to seek outside means of wanting to hallucinate...I can make copies of our now 1-5 team that would be just as effective...Abe Lemmons, former U of Texas men's basketball coach, now deceased, was one of the most gifted humorists to ever represent professional coaches, and about right now, his humor would be a antidote for the poison that ails me at this time...Those who know me well, know that I'm a pretty positive person, one who sees the positive in ALL things related to players learning and playing this game, and humor is always one of my "finer" elements when enhancing one's level of concentration and/or learning abilities...

Game summaries to date...we have lost 2 straight after winning our 2nd game at home by 6pts...in overtime...uglee, but victorious...the next game was on the road in Dalian and we got run out of the gym early and late...We weren't ready to play mentally, and this team, Jilin Tigers are very "soft" when it comes to being aggressive...I don't like to talk about our weaknesses per se, but all the "spots" I had mentioned in previous early pre season practices and exhibition games is still "current" and doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon...which means we're in trouble...Why do the players continually falter? I believe it comes from their lack of education beyond high school and being in a system 11 and half months out of the year, training, lifting weights BUT NOT developing good habits and eliminating the bad ones...Our team has 13 active players right now...11 of the 13 are single child in a mom and dad environment growing up, meaning "spoiled" to this day...You have to remember, China has in place a "rule" that you may not have more than 2 children, and if the first born is a boy, they STOP procreating for the most part...Why? Because they have MORE females than males...they've allowed families who have 2 boys to have 3 children in the next generation or something like that...Anyway, back to the gist of my observations here regarding our players and their predictable tendencies and bad habits...They can do NO WRONG in the eyes of their parents, meaning any criticism, positive or negative will get the same reaction: "So what...?"...This is and will continue to be the downfall of progress here in China basketball: the lack of accountability for individual mistakes and bad habits that carry over onto the court in competitions...There are over 300 million playing basketball in China right now, all ages, all various skill levels, yet very little "teaching" really as opposed to the repetitions of fundamentals and the explanation of "why" we do this drill and for what purpose...I guess that's what boggles my mind the most with the players, not only on our team but watching film of opponents: they play with no purpose...more on this subject as the season progresses...

So, we lose and travel back in the Fog from Outer Limits, and then again on Sunday...After being down by 15 points at halftime, we storm back to take a lead only to go BLANK from the field and mentally on defense...It was the same ol script from Grounhog Day: same time in game, 4th qtr., same scenario, leaving a shooter to help out a teammate WHO DOESN'T NEED HELP, and watching the open shooter knock down a 3 time and again...Deliberate mistakes? Yeah, good question, as I thought the same to myself...I think Coach Gao is realizing also, that we have certain players who give great Karoke lip service but their actions speak louder...He's finally accepting my recommendations to emphasize accountability on defense and NOT be enamored with a player who shoots and makes 1-5 from the 3 pt. area on our team...Simply amazing logic and wonderment to me, folks...

Team Meeting last night: we have more team meetings than any Senate Subcommittee, trust me...I think I really understand Chinese better now, because Coach Gao keeps repeating the same message over and over again...so the words are becoming familiar "tones" to me...Coach Gao is such a great person and teacher, it's a shame these players don't buy into him...He really wants them each to succeed, yet we still have dissident elements who are making their choice to be selfish and it is hurting the team...hence, the reason for meetings...I was asked to speak up and I chose to ask the players if any of them have actually "asked" their coaches what they could do to help the team play better...and if they had asked a teammate what they could do to help them also...Y'all shoulda seen the heads drop and eyes down, head still, while the words from Pancake's (translator) mouth reverberated in their ears...I had 3 players approach me when I was coaching the team earlier in the preseason: 2 Americans and Wong Bo...team leader...Evidently my words went right to the heart of the other coaches and the GM that was there as they all repeated what I shared as something that was very true and so important for our future successes: How can we help one another to succeed as a team...? Guess I'm good for another week here...still have two bags packed and a couple of boxes full to send home via DHL when the "time" comes...I am a realist folks, and even though my presence here is a positive, the economics will soon "kick in" and this owner will "cut" his losses...been there and experienced that already...not a lot of fun...When they start gettin funny with the money, that's when it's time to check flight schedules and have a really nice "last supper" before morning departure the next day...So far, they've been "late" 15 days last month and 10 days this month...but then again we won on "day 5" of due date...I'm enjoying the teaching and helping the coaches with a model that I've learned from my mentors of past years, and it's fun to watch the growth and concurrence of things I suggest or teach on the floor...I'm still waiting for a copy of the stats though...Strange, have yet to "get one" even though I've asked for one...Coach Woods would go cyberballistic if he didn't have stats to evaluate effort and overall performance of the team after each game...It's like I'm a passenger in a car and I sense that one of the "tires" is flat, and mention that we should check the "pressure" to make sure it doesn't go flat...Still awaitin that "rest stop check..."...Okay, gotta run, we play in two hours in Shanghai against a younger team than ours whose record is 2-5...we have a "shot" at this team as they are predictable "passers", meaning they could work for Western Union delivering telegrams...The other tendency they have is "waiting" around watching the Americans do their thing one on one, meaning their spacing is poor which allows one person to guard two on defense and means we can actually HELP a teammate in our rotations IF we remember to do such...I'm looking for some Green Tea that will enhance the "recall" cells of our players' brains...Later, thanks for your patience during a difficult 3 weeks here, trying to blog and adjust to new role...Hope the tryouts go well for the kids I've trained this past summer and hope that everyone is going to experience a successful season...Best to all and I will have an update again tomorrow...Coach tom

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