2016 May 12
Knowing I have to wake up early usually means not sleeping very well in anticipation of oversleeping. This was not the case. I conked out quickly, and awoke what I thought was 47 seconds before the alarm. Upon further review, I misread my timer and tried to fall back to sleep for 47 minutes but that wasn’t happening. Not to worry, today is a grueling travel day. A two hour bus ride to the airport in Changsha, followed by an hour and half flight to Hangzhou, and the final leg is a three hour bus to Fenghua City.
It seems to me that my friends in education could be doing an awesome “Where’s Coach” project highlighting the towns and points of interest, miles covered to date, potential future locations and of course a little statistics with wins/looses, margin of victory/defeat, and an over under on how many of the dozen ties I brought will actually make it home.
Add International Smuggler to my growing list accomplishments. I had completely forgotten I had packed a cigar to enjoy after my first victory, and a lighter, and an incredibly nice new monogrammed cigar cutter (a present from Rich and Maureen). It made it to LA, Shang Hai, and the first time through Changsa. But, it got popped by the agent today. Fact of the matter is, I didn’t even get to use it. The hour or so I was going to enjoy and relax with the cigar, was erased by the impromptu dinner party last night. Not to worry, every hotel room has matches and ashtrays in it, even though they sit on the same nightstand as the “NO SMOKING” sign.
The hotel in Fenghua City is great. The Huaxin International Hotel (www.hxgj.com). Top notch. We have a little free time to stretch our legs and enjoy the sunshine and then dinner and a shoot around at the arena.
The guys grumble about having a shoot around, and I cannot blame them. However, our practice time for tomorrow was cancelled and a promotion visit was inserted in that time slot. So tonight is our chance to acclimate to the arena. This one is bigger than the last. There is a monstrous TV at one end. It will be difficult to shoot there and I have asked Robert to pull some strings and switch our bench from the left side to the right, which is an indicator of which direction the team play offense. I would like to shoot at the blank background in the second half. We will see how it goes.
We start with the warm-up routine and it’s starting to look smooth now. Then walking through what Defensive problems arose and how to correct them. Then walking through Offensive problems and how to correct them. Then I split us into two groups. I didn’t tell the players the common element of the split and told them they had to figure out why they were clustered this way. The teams competed in a jump shooting contest. First to five, just like 5th grade phys. ed. And it was fun and games until the first group won the first three rounds. The second set was closer, but again the first group prevailed three times. The second group decided they could win the imaginary title if they were the first to hit a half-court shot. The first group agreed and it was bombs away. It took 15 shots but the second group got it done. Some half court 3 on 3, some foul shots and we were done in an hour.
Last night, there were introductions, but not anthems (not uncommon in China), but tomorrow there will be. I know this because they played it over the PA system for about 10 seconds to confirm they had the right song. Last time, I was in China as the head coach for Australia and I could see on the player’s faces that their anthem stirred emotion. I already have butterflies about hearing mine.
*height: the common factor for the clusters tonight was the program listed height for each player. Players with even inches (ex.6’10”) were one team, and the odd inches (6’9”) were on the other. Nope: no one got it.