2016 May 14
Today starts off with a flurry of well wishes for my birthday: text messages, Instagram mentions, one random telemarketer. All well intentioned, except the telemarketer, but it was 3:30 am. The fear of oversleeping ruins any chance at deep REM sleep the last two hours. I am up packing and getting ready to take on the day by 5:45. First on the schedule is the bus to Changxing City. I am pretty sure catching some Z’s on the bus is in order. Four hours later, we arrive.
One of the major worries on a trip like this laundry. We have a full load of sweaty uniforms, socks, and unmentionables (which I just mentioned). Add to that, the regular streets clothes and one can see how much laundry is created daily. When we first check in, all the guys go to their rooms and get the laundry out into the hallway ASAP. Because we are only here one night, and didn’t get in until noon, the staff has to turn it over quickly. When we get it back several hours later, it is still wet. Not five more minutes in the dryer wet. I mean, we may need to call the repairman wet. It’s a lesson on materials. The lighter compression type stuff is dry. The medium weight jerseys and shorts are damp. Anything with cotton needs to be hung until the morning. My bathroom looks like a closet as I race against the clock and hope it all dries before I have to stuff it into the suitcase tomorrow.
The free afternoon I had is redirected to separating and folding the aforementioned laundry. If you want the good view you have to pay the price. I am able to get a quick nap, then shower and shave and down to pregame meal. The routine of the days is starting to set in and some guys are buying food while they are out and skipping pregame meals in order to nap longer. Finally, it’s time to board the bus and to the arena.
The dark hardwood of the floor shows how long the building has been in service. It’s a bandbox that seats maybe 2,000. I anticipate that it will be really hot and the smoke will be really bad. I was half right. It was hot. The floor is narrow so corner threes are out, but running the defense to a trap there is in. There has been much ado in regard to playing time. I split the roster differently for the start of the game. I know the deficiencies of both clusters and figure we will struggle in the first half, be down a few maybe 10. I do this because the best way to find out who your leaders are is to start a mutiny. The players start off sluggish, the Chinese team is shooting the ball well and running a basic three man weave and our guys are staying screened. We give up way too many 3’s and by the half we are down 25. Full Blown Mutiny. Even Robert and the promoter are having a heart attack. I dawdle to the locker room to allow for the players to scream and holler at each other until they decide it is all my fault. The one thing they vehemently agree on is I have no clue and if they are going to win this game they are going to have to band together and get it done. By making myself the center of attention, I have directed their focus to a more team oriented approach. It works perfectly.
The second half we outscore them 58-33. We take the lead with 5 seconds to go and make a final defensive stand to win. I went with a more standard lineup. Shortened the bench to about 8 guys and left the Chinese team, 2,000 fans, Robert and the promoter wondering how the hell we just did that. That’s why I get the good view.