We won...we won...we finally won a road game!!!!

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November 15, 2007...airborne on way to play the #1 team, Bayi Red Star Army...We played as well as I have ever seen us play as a T-E-A-M...and on the long road no less...What was the "spark" for this happy occasion? For sure the Team meeting the night before where Coach Gao and his Staff, plus the GM, shared their soulful thoughts with the Team, and it must have had a positive effect, 'cause we got busy in this game...The score was 112-105, I believe...still waiting to get a copy of the stats...Player of the Game: Steve "C-Berr" Castleberry, our "Footer" who played the game of his life: 30 pts., 14 rebounds, 4 blocks and a smile from here to Hawaii...for the first time we were finally able to get Steve the ball on the post where he dominated with his Post moves to the basket...He only shot 1 FT in 36 mins., missing that attempt on the back end of a 3 pt. play...Man was he "money" last night...What was the key? Spider Monkey, former "Advanced Turnover Extraordinaire" graduate, who entered the game last night when we were down 16-4...Our offense in motion is like watching paint dry...yeah, really boring and interesting at the same time...guess that's what's called an oxymoron...needless to say, we struggle when our perimeter shots chip paint off the rim, and we don't run lanes for transition baskets...I made a suggestion to Coach Gao that we needed to get Pops (28 yr. old vet, only one married with child) out of there as he is too tentative and trying to protect the ball as opposed to getting us into the offense...Enter Spider...right away he picks up the tempo and makes a couple of assists and we're right back in the game...Enter Steve and he gets a lob pass for a dunk off a beautiful play by Spider Monkey...and then another no look pass in the paint to Steve and folks, it's a beauty to watch unfold here: Steve has finally found a "soulmate" on the floor on his team that actually PASSES the ball to him when he's open...This 3 mins. in the 1st qtr. when Steve and Spider are hooking up is giving us (coaches) a whole new insight to our problems of previous games: we don't use our Post player well at all...until NOW...anyway, the rest of the game was fun to watch evolve as the "team" came together well and played to their levels well...to the end...We got the "stops" on defense when needed down the stretch and rebounded the shots that we needed possessions on and the end result gave us the victory...still waitin on the stats...

Next game preparations: this is a solid Chinese team in that they have Wang Zhe Zhe, formerly of the Mavericks and Nuggets, I believe and one of the best perimeter shooters in the league...He goes about 6'9", left handed and appears on film that he's never taken the ball out bounds, meaning he's a shooter FIRST and FOREMOST and we'll have to respect that matchup early and LONG...I am going to suggest to Coach Gao that we play a Box (push sideline/baseline) and Diamond, which is a 1-2-1 with pressure ball matchup up top vs. Point and "see" how they adjust...I don't like zones , never have, mainly because it is the WORSE defensive rebounding position in basketball...too easy for players NOT to block someone out and anticipate the rebound instead of "assuming" teammate will get it...know what I mean...But in this application/proposal from me to Coach Gao and other coaches, I would like to see how we could disrupt their "normal" expectations of having Zhe Zhe touch the ball early in the qtr. and letting him get goin from downtown...We'll see if my translator Pancake can convey my thoughts and suggestions here...If not, we'll just have to be more alert on picking the ball up early, covering the lanes on pass entries and of course blocking out and rebounding on missed perimeter shots...

Reflections on being sick in China: I came down with a sniffaloffagus cold yesterday, and felt it coming on after the game on Sunday night...I think it was a carryover of being on a bus with 16 people for 8 straight hours and no FRESH air and a lot of sneezing and coughing going on behind me, which means the "airborne" particles will surely make its way towards my "jet intakes" (nostrils) and provide me with an opportunity to be sick later...True to form, that's what happened and now I feel like old Chevy (I had a '55 Bel Air back in the day) trying to "turn over" early in the cold mornings, you remember those days, right? Arrrrohn....arrrrrohn....arrrrohn...and finally there was enough "juice" left over to get it going, but it was really hard to get it cranking like it should...That's the way my morning started with the hackin and coughin and seemingly endless backfires before I finally felt human again and could stand upright and walk around in my hotel room stepping East and West...Man, every country I've been too that has blessed me with their "dormant" bugs, are all uniquely different in their manifestations and my body's acceptance of these foreign ills...As an example, when I played professionally for two years in Belgium they had a "resident" bug called "Le Grippe"...now let me tell you something about THAT bug...it's stealth, has no antidotes to speak of, just the reminder from the Belgies that "Le Grippe very bad and YOU will get it too...then it will pass..."...I scoffed at these testimonials at first until I got "The GRIP"...Aptly named, I might add, as it literally takes a hold on your body's nervous system and you really feel like you can't move...at all...anytime...wait'll you hear my 'prescription' from the then team's President's wife, Paula...she made me WAIT two days while I was laid up, and then brought over a bottle of Cabernet, cheap one I might add, poured the whole bottle into a soup pan, added some sugar, warmed it up, short of boil, and proceeded to have me DRINK the whole freakin pan!!! I was dehydrated as it was, so any liquid would quench the thirst and it did, let me tell you...She then told me to put on heavy sweat pants, sweat shirt with a tee under that, wool thick socks, add another blanket and go lay down on the bed and go to sleep until tomorrow..."and you will feel so much better...promise..." were her embedded words to my memory bank as reflect now...to this day, I do not recall anything that happened during that sleep sequence, but I DO remember the next morning when I awakened...I was soaking wet, beads of perspiration still dripping down my face, I had broken the fever, and now it was time to get up and take a shower and see how I felt after that...Folks, I was as good as a newborn puppy...all happy and giddy, no hangover, no fever, no cough, no stuffiness, I wuz healed by a "wives remedies"...remember those? I haven't forgotten that "prescription" and on occasion have seriously thought about implementing it again...But now NyQuil has replaced Caberet Sauvignon, and that stuff really KNOCKS you out prior, during and after one's sleep sequence...Good thing I brought 3 bottles of NyQuil to China...just in case...and the "case" happened...guess you can tell I might be still out of it by how quickly I digressed from the original thought behind this story on "getting sick in China..."...What do they do here? Well, let's see, we've had 8 players get sick so far and they go to hospital and get IVs for and hour and half or so, and then go to bed...not sure what's in the IV but it must work 'cause the fellas be back on the floor the next morning...

Okay, hope everyone understands that we're on a 3 game road trip, the second one coming up on Friday vs. the #1 team in League...we're fortunately going to have 3 practices before we play them, which is terrific, although the players to a man would disagree, but it gives us a chance to prepare a "game plan/strategy" towards their strengths, which is perimeter shooting and transition fast break opportunities...Will "blogit" tomorrow for you guys as your encouraging comments and pursuit of "more newell, more..." has inspired me to be diligent in bringing into my life here in China...Big Shout Outs to all the kids who put in timeless hours on improving their skills and game this past summer...Know this: you will be happy to experience a tryout with your team KNOWING that you worked your tail off JUST FOR THIS MOMENT...don't worry about your missed shots, turnovers and any other negative imagination that you visualize prior to the experience, just go out and demonstrate you BEST EFFORT and everything else will take care of itself...God Bless, take care good people and thanks so much for caring...Coach tom

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