Bobcat Abroad: Tommy Freeman (March 3)

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Pay day!!!!! Each member of the team was given their checks after practice and then dispersed to deposit it into our various banks. We rendezvoused and took two cars to the local Tesco. Other than the times I needed the necessities, milk, eggs, or butter, I usually visited the grocery store twice a month to buy the bulk of my food. I never came in with a game plan and usually just walked up and down each aisle grabbing whatever looked good at that time. On this particular trip I went a bit overboard. Coke, beef mince, chips, salsa, cheese, fries, chicken, garlic mayo, eggs, milk, butter, bacon, candy, pizza, shrimp, and fried rice were just a few of the items that totaled £54 ($83). I could not wait to get home and cook the meal that I had been waiting for weeks to eat, homemade nachos. I emptied some chips on my plate, sprinkled some taco seasoning on and browned the beef mince, grated the cheese, and then placed the plate in the over to melt the cheese over the mince and chips. I could not help but be impressed with my new acquired cooking skills. It was a meal from home that came out very well. I was ready to head off to bed after that meal and rest for the Newcastle game we had the next day. We were the only team that had beaten them this year and they had us circled on their calendars for a chance at redemption.

Newcastle was top in the league. We had beaten them on their home court which hardly ever happened. We were their only loss of the season and they had not forgotten this fact. We also knew that they would come in ready to play. They had the advantage of having a much larger payroll and also veteran players that had a number of years of experience in the league. Newcastle is the standard in the BBL. They have the most championships and they bring in big name guys to play there. Our group had a focus about us. There was no messing around in warm-ups. We shot our jumpers and hit our lay-ups as the crowd filed in and grew larger for both teams. It was an offensive battle. Both teams shot over 50% from the field. When the final buzzer rang it was two free throws that separated us from the Eagles. They had emerged victorious 102-100 and let us know about it as we walked towards the locker room. They waved towels and shouted as if they had just won a playoff game. Their combination of Joe Chapman and Charles Smith were too much for us. Chapman finished with 39 points including 8-10 from 3 point range while Smith 28 and the decisive shot with just 4 seconds remaining. I was disappointed with some of my decision making down the stretch. This was a big game and one I knew we had to have in order to stay within striking distance of Newcastle for the league title. Immediately after the game Prezzie and I along with two of the Newcastle players were escorted to a nearby classroom in the University. It was a random drug screening that we had been selected for. I had never been tested before. The process was very intricate and explaining the steps that needed to be followed consumed more time than actually conducting the test. I had some trouble reaching the minimum amount of liquid in my container in order to conduct the test. I had to be escorted back to the locker room to retrieve my lemonade and see if I could muster up a few more drops. By the time I left the gym it had been over an hour after the game had ended. I couldn’t get the loss off my mind. The things I could have done differently the plays I could have made haunted me as laid down in bed.

I woke the next morning early and ready to get on the road. Callum was driving me to Cardiff, Whales to audition for Big Brother. The auditions were to be held at Millennium Stadium, the premier stadium in Whales for football and rugby. I walked into the stadium and a rush of nervousness filled my body. All I could do was give a shot, the worst they could say was no. Twelve of us waited to be called in. We were lined up and two women in their twenties started asking us questions. We were given a debatable topic and had to choose our stance on the subject then defend it. The first was, “Is beauty or intelligence more important?” A series of other topics were presented and we took our turns defending our choices. We then were organized back into a line. The two women picked one person out of the group and whispered a subject in their ear. That person then had to rank the people from most to least. They picked me out of the group and I had to rank who I believed was the most annoying to the least annoying simply based on looks and how we felt about that person in the few short minutes that we had talked amongst one another. Other topics were most likely to be a housemate and most partners. Once this activity finished we were told to close our eyes. The two women made a mark on your hand if you had made it to the next round. I received a mark and made my way up the escalator to the second round. I filled out some contact details and they took my picture. I then waited for about an hour to be called into a dark room with nine other people. We each took our turn in front of two producers from the show and a camera trying to sell ourselves as to why we should be on Big Brother.  I told them about my hunting website, that I was in the UK playing professional basketball, and a little bit about my background. In the end only one of the ten people in my group made it to the third and final round of the auditions. It was a great experience and I met some new people through the process. Callum and I walked to the nearest pub to watch the end of the Manchester United game and then headed back to Worcester to pick up Prezzie and head to Birmingham for the evening.

It was Superbowl Sunday. Even in the UK they broadcast the game. It was a rarity to have any American sports on the television. A few of the guys travelled to Birmingham for a night out and to watch the game. Callum and Prezzie wanted the Giants to win so I rooted for the Patriots, a sin for any Colts fan, just to be obnoxious. We took turns buying rounds while we stared at the big screen and had something to say after every big play or score. The taunts lasted the entire game until I came to the realization that the Patriots had choked once again. What a game to watch though. It was a great battle and coaching duel. It exemplified the narrow margin between victory and defeat. With one play here or there the Patriots could have been world champs. Regardless the sport, the outcome can change with one play.

Tuesday was back to class. In my first class that I had missed the week before, Emerging Themes in Marketing, we discussed current social media websites and the functions that they performed. My Professor was very knowledgeable about so many of the websites and showed the class a few that we had never heard of before. Among these were Plaxo, a website to store all of your contacts. was online radio that adjusts to your listening patterns. Myasics allows you to keep track of your workouts and design a plan of attack for each day. Rentmyitems is a website designed for people to put their items up for rent and be paid for their use. It was a very informative class and I spent most of my second class looking through these websites and setting up accounts on them.  

The next day was my second Uni game against Glasgow. We had a light shoot around in the morning and then I went home to rest before the game. We needed to be back at the gym at 5:30 for our games usually so I did not think any different. I set me alarm on my phone for 5 which would give me enough time to pack my things up and be at the gym by 5:30 to warm up. When I walked in the gym, the game had already started and was 3 minutes in. I walked over to coach feeling sick to my stomach. Being late was the one thing that I hated more than anything. He asked me if I had been sleeping and I explained to him that I thought we were supposed to be back at 5:30 and that it was my fault. As the team already had a 13 point lead he asked if I wanted to play. I said it was up to him and he told me I could sit this one out. I sat at the end of the bench watching the team control the game and get the win.

The next few days I spent much of my time playing infected on Call of Duty. Prezzie had introduced me to the new game style and I found my level progressing rapidly on the game and the hours flew by while I sat in front of the screen. Callum, Tin, Richie, and I had also started making team meals and we took turns cooking each night. We were eating a lot of the meals downstairs while discussing practice from earlier in the day or commenting on the show that would be on TV. We had our meal for the night and retired to our rooms to get some rest. We had the Plymouth Raiders visiting Worcester the following day and we had been soundly beaten by them twice this season at home.

We arrived to the gym and went through warm-ups with the same focus that we had before the Newcastle game. We got off to a great start and kept the momentum going throughout the game. Everyone was making shots. Tin hit multiple 3 pointers as the shot clock ran down, Arnas was making his usual 2 or 3 3’s per game and I had the best game of my life and finished with 40 points. I had gone 11/11 from the free throw line, 7/9 from 3, and 4/5 from 2 point range. I couldn’t believe that I had done that. Never in my career had I reached this many points. It had broken my previous career high of 33 at Newcastle earlier in the season. More important was that we got the win and the two points in the league that came with it. We had won the season series with Plymouth and it felt pretty good. Their coach had made some comments in the media saying that they loved playing us at home because they beat us by 20 every time. I took that as a challenge and my play backed up my feelings towards the Raiders and their coach.

We are moving towards the last third of our regular season schedule. This is where our seeding will be determined for the tournament. There has been some jostling in the standings at the top over the past few weekends and we need to keep handling business to make sure we finish strong and attain a favorable matchup for the playoffs. I am continuing to try and catch up with my blogs. More to come very soon so stay tuned.