September 7, 2010

"Friendly Games"...haha

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
  - Edmund Burke

Valley in France
After traveling to France for two games this weekend I got to see two important things: the level of play we’re expected to compete with, and how my team plays together. There are a few things that were VERY different while playing basketball in France. I was taken off-guard by how intense the guard pressure was. In America there is a rule where you are allowed to measure up your opponent by putting your arm out, once you take your arm off that first time as soon as you make contact again it becomes a foul…in France, not so much. The guards had to hold onto the ball while being pushed and shoved out on the wings, to such an extent where the defense was actually pushing the guards all the way to half court and over the half-court line. Once again, in America the referee’s call would be a foul, in France they called back-court violations on the offense. Of course I’m not a guard, so I didn’t have to deal with all that :)

Those of you who've seen me play know I’m a “shot-blocker;” I like to time the offense’s moves so I don’t let them get the ball out of their hands when they are trying to score. The first game of the weekend I had one (?) blocked shot I think – crazy, I know! Apparently in Europe you’re allowed to take an extra step after you’ve declared your pivot foot to step around the defense in the post. Needless to say I was caught off-balance in a number of situations and felt completely dumbfounded as to how my player was scoring on me. Thank goodness I caught on and got my timing down. In the second game I felt a lot more like myself - I maybe had 8 blocked shots, one of which was on a girl trying to get a fast-break bucket where I swatted it out of bounds. I know you don't get the ball back when you block a shot like that, but when you're down by ten against a really aggressive team, it sure feels good :P.

Speaking of ‘fast-breaks,’ teams LOVE TO RUN IN EUROPE! What we would consider playing fast and loose in America is the norm here. Teams try to break at any and every opportunity: if there’s a rebound, it’s off to the races, if there’s a turnover, it’s off to the races, if there’s a made basket, it’s off to the races…you get the point (and yes, I am realizing that I use a lot of other sports analogies when I talk). 

It’s very weird to be on a team that is always looking to run because I’m what you’d call a “set-play player.” I love structure and using all the time on the shot clock (which is 24 seconds in Europe, not 30 like in America). Our fast break has structure to it, but just like the other teams at every opportunity we are off to the races! My teammates learned to give me the ball throughout the weekend. My favorite play was right after my coach pulled out all the starters (minus myself) and put in the girls who’d been on the bench. The other center and I rarely get to play together, but she was in with me at this point, and when the other team double-teamed me I got to pass to her after she'd made a hard cut underneath the basket for a layup. No offense to the guards out there, but there’s something magical about getting to see the person you battle with during every practice score off of a pass that you make during a game :).

Although the club team I’m on placed second in all of Switzerland last year, I’ve learned that there is only one returning player from that squad on the team this year. The rest of the team is very, very young and really just learning how to play at the first level. Even so, we did okay. We lost our first game by about 20 or so, but improved the second game and only lost by about 15. It’s funny how I can’t really understand a word my coach says in huddles or at half-time. My teammates translate bits and pieces like “she says we need to make better passes” or “she told us to look inside and give you the ball.” What I can tell you is that after a two-loss weekend the talk you get after the games are over in the locker-room need no translating. Those kinds of talks make you feel just as ashamed whether or not you can understand a damn thing your coach says. 

Mountain in France
I am realizing that it could be very easy for me to get frustrated with the different style of play here, or the fact that my team is young and learning, but there would be no point in that. So really my goal here is to play my best and help my teammates as much as I can so we have a successful season. As long as I keep doing my part to the best of my ability I am hoping the rest will fall into place. Needless to say, our team has a LOT of work to do. Two-a-day practices started today...

Regardless of the outcomes of the games this past weekend, France has beautiful mountains and valleys (see pics). The two teammates I roomed with at the hotel were a lot of fun and helped me to learn some more French words. It paid off when I got in the elevator yesterday with a man who asked me which floor he should press for me and I was actually able to answer in French! Baby steps :).


  1. highlights of this blog for me...friendly games, off to the races (x3), and that you said "fast and loose"

  2. AANNDDDDDDDD I'm Nummy! I'm so proud of you!

  3. Wish i could have seen you swat that ball out of bounds :)