"They may not "believe" in Christmas...but there's a Grinch in Coldchun City, China these days...

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December 20, 2007...Thursday night...15 Degrees outside...can anyone besides Polar Bears, know the difference between 15-25 Degrees? I'm telling you it's so cold here icicles form on runny noses if you're outside more than 5 minutes...

The Game last night: The Grinch didn't make an appearance per se, nor did he steal anything, we just left the "front door" open again and got beat by a team we defeated a month ago...which means, either the other team got better...OR...we have regressed...the latter, I'm afraid...Once again our "troops" forgot to battle and while the opponent demonstrated skill and verve in our home...Let's put it this way, the game was actually worse than my cough and cold (the nasaliclles melted in the first 2 mins.)...We had plays where a player did a nice crossover from right to left, took a couple of dribbles and then picked the ball up for a moment, and proceeded to dribble again, only to be "given up" to the Officials for his infraction by our fans who gasped in disbelief and allowed the Official to inhale enough air to exhale this infraction...When that happened, I knew immediately we were in for a long night...actually it was looooonnnnnnger than any of us wished: 4 Qtrs...Now I know you think I'm being negative and "down" on our team, but actually what I'm learning here each day and every competition is that we are very unskilled in most positions, beginning with our Point positions, as we continually give up position in the halfcourt allowing the opponents' lead guard to enter the wings with a pass or dribble entry...Probably, for me, the most vulnerable of any offense is an opponent's lead guard going where he wants with the ball...That is when you see coaches on any sideline in organized basketball scratching their heads, when in fact, it's the beginning of a migraine headache...So the remedy most coaches seek is a "timeout" where they can vent their irritations with the Lead Guard and ask the simple question: "Do you think there's a possibility that you MIGHT get up on the ball sometime tonight before you catch a cold on the bench...?"...or something to that effect...I think I told y'all once before I don't look at the score upon leaving the court in a loss, old habits never die...basically taking the approach I'd rather "take a picture" of our players countenance to see whether or not they really were affected by the loss...Enough of our game...Tis YOUR Season to be jolly...fa la la la la la la la la la la...Still waiting for a Stat Sheet...

Okay, so I was very happy on Tuesday night to find out that my gifts home to family and friends have arrived safely and still waiting to hear if the others made it as well...It's not cheap to ship from China as they more than make up for NOT charging in some areas of transportation (Taxis, Buses and Trains) by imposing STRONG fees on International shipping of small to medium boxes...

Here's hoping all in the Northwest, Family, friends, coaches, players, parents, Officials and anyone who reads our blogits to have a wonderful Holiday Season, one filled with many blessings and safe travels throughout the Happy New ALL Year...I just confirmed my clinic in early February to Vladivostok, Russia, where I've been invited to lead a coaches clinic, representing our game to college and high school coaches in that Province of the Eastern seaboard of Russia...Our State Department sent me an Official invitation that was initiated by the Ministry of Education and Sports in Moscow, who in turn received the request from the Vladivostok Basketball Federation requesting my visit...This would NOT be possible if The Larson Legacy, lead by Mr. Lee Larson, himself, of Oregon, did not sponsor this endeavor from the roundtrip flight, and visa fees that Russia charges for any and all foreign visitors...My host, the VBF, will provide the hotel accomodations, hopefully NOT the first hotel we stayed in back in October when our team was playing in a tournament there, and I do remember blogitting about that experience as well...Anyway, kudos to Lee and his non-profit organization for making this happen...I received a very kind email from our State Department's Attache' in Vladivostok, thanking me and The Larson Legacy for our efforts to help this program happen...I've been working on the program syllabus and trying to simplify all of the drills for skills and presentation templates that we will introduce over the 5 days of the clinic...Lee is a former Clackamas Girls Basketball Association coach whom I met several years ago when I was coaching in the WNBA with the now defunct Portland Fire...His model of leadership and keeping drills fun for the kids has been an inspiration to me to this day...He is one of the very very FEW volunteer coaches that I've ever met in my basketball life that "gets it", meaning he KNOWS it's about the kids, not winning at all costs but making the sure the participants have fun in practice LEARNING new drills and also not worrying about the outcome of game as opposed to "did you have fun playing?", questions...His daughter improved from the level of her early experiences with her Dad coaching, to play Freshman basketball in High School one year and then lose interest because it wasn't fun anymore...I have accompanied Lee on a couple of humanitarian trips to Guatemala, making visits to Guatemala City and the Northern Highlands of San Marcos, which is located on a beautiful lake known as Lake Atitlan...Anyway, I have that to keep me positive at this time and of course basketball-busy as wellwith our remaining games...I also will be a guest coach at a camp in Beijing mid January...This came about from an invitation by one of China's most respected former players and fomer National Coach, Wang Fei...He is a GREAT teacher and one of the best coaches I've had the pleasure of meeting in China and the world of basketball in general...He understands the importance of player development, strength and conditioning programs and proper nutrition...his current team Guandong has only been in the CBA for two years, and this is his first season with them and he's done an incredible job to date...His team plays with confidence at both ends of the floor and their overall effort is 2nd to none..he's currently in the middle of the pack and has a chance to surprise everyone and make the playoffs...Good for him and his team...

On another note of personal interest: I am very saddened by the abrupt resignation of my close friend Todd Turner, Athletics Director at the University of Washington...Todd and our families go back over 28 years now, and first met in Charlottesville, Virginia when he was an Associate Athletic Director...His integrity, loyalty and vision for doing things the right way, helped the UW regain the respect and admiration from his colleagues and peers within the infrastructure of the NCAA...He truly loved the campus life environment of the UW complex, and even more so the Student "Dawg" spirit that followed most of the non-revenue sports of intercollegiate athletics at the University...His hardest decision was not renewing Coach June Daugherty's contract last Spring, but he felt that it was time to take the program "up" a notch, and made the decision to bring in Tia Jackson who will in time do very well as the Women's coach there...I wish Todd, Sara and their son, Drew, a fine student athlete himself at Seattle Prep, all the best in their lives, and know that the reunion he and Sara will have with their 3 daughters back East will "ease" the pain of leaving the Northwest...This much I know about today's state of affairs in college athletics: there are expectations that accompany most major universities today across the United States and with that come anticipated celebrations of Championships, but in reality, of the 320 or so Division I schools, not all can compete for a National Championship in Football, though many believe they can, or I should say Alumni organizations hold the belief that they should...I hope that the model of respectability and stability that Todd and his professional Staff put into place over the last 3 years will continue to evolve towards that elusive expectation on the gridiron...Thanks TTodd for a job well done...

We play again tomorrow night against another team we had success with on the road a month ago...Any predictions on my part? Let me put it this way: we're between a rock and hard place, the rock being our arena (the oldest in the CBA with Asbestos insulation) and the "hard place" being the opponent who is in 5th place out of 16 teams and wanting to improve their standing after leaving Changchun with a victory...When a team is eliminated from the playoffs, and you have several games left on your schedule, you try to keep the players positive and focused on being professional in their approach towards preparation and application (competitions), as they ALL are playing for the future: theirs to gain a new contract with the current team or impress another team to consider them for their rosters next season...My last blog I mentioned how important it was for the players to rededicate themselves and "play this season out and finish on a positive note..."...we'll see...The press has been less than kind towards the Head Coach Gao and Mr. Jiang, the General Manager who came in one week before the season started..along with Coach Gao...Happy last minute shopping to all those Fathers out there who dread the pressure of "finding" the right gift for their families...Take care, best wishes, will visit with you again...Coach tom

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