Bobcat Abroad: Tommy Freeman (October 26)

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It’s been two months since I arrived in Switzerland. We have completed our preseason and got our championship games in full swing. Although things have not gone how we had hoped at the beginning, we are piecing things together one game at a time and learning how to play with each other better every match. I have settled into a routine and it has helped me to adjust to my surroundings. Switzerland continues to be a great place to play and live. Our road trips are highlighted by the scenery observed out of the bus windows which I have taken the time to snap a few photos of. As time continues to pass I am only more pleased about my choice to make the move to Massagno and continue to try and push myself as a person and player.

We have also had a chance to become accustomed to the Italian cuisine. We almost always have pasta for lunch and then some type of meat for dinner. The meals are generally very good. However, veal became old after we started getting it two or three days a week and the fish isn’t a favourite among our three Americans. In the end, having meals prepared for me rather than having to cook them myself is so nice especially after long practices when I am tired and in no mood to whip something together. Our favourite meals are still pizza, chicken, and lasagne and we relish the meals that we indulge in these foods that have become reminders of home and American grease.

Our exhibition games in Italy allowed us to find out more about our make up as a team. We played some very good Italian teams from the lower divisions and although these games did not come out in our favour we were able to learn how to play as a team and learned each other’s strengths. The road trips into Italy gave us time to bond on the long rides to and from the matches. As always I take time to soak in the countryside mixed in with my pre game naps on the bus rides. Our team also competed in a tournament in Basel, Switzerland against Boncourt, Monthey, and the host team, Starwings. We were able to fight off Boncourt on the first day before coming up short in the championship game against Starwings. During the final game we lost our big man, Danilo. He left the game in the 3rd quarter and when all was said and done he had torn his ACL. He had been a co-captain for our team and one of the few returning players from last season. Since the injury he has underwent a successful surgery and is currently taking some time at home for personal reasons. I know that personally he was a great team mate from our short time playing together. He is also a great guy off the court and had been very receptive to me picking his brain about being a professional and playing overseas.

When Danilo became injured, the club did a great job handling the situation. They fully supported Danilo’s wishes as to where he wanted to have the surgery and do his rehab. They also were very professional about arriving to the realization that we needed a player to come in and replace him the best they could. I began to attempt to think of players that could come in and fulfil his role on the team. I spoke with Prezzie who I had played with in Worcester last year and also my dad to try to brainstorm some names that the coaching staff could evaluate. The name we arrived at was Pete Campbell, a Muncie native and graduate of Butler University. He had played in the top league of Germany for two years and also in New Zealand over the past summer. He is a 6’7 shooter with a great mind for the game. The coaches saw his highlight on YouTube and the steps were taken to acquire him.

Pete arrived two weeks ago in Massagno and I believe has fit in well with the team to this point. He gives us another weapon offensively that we were missing when we were playing without Danilo. The young guys on the team also have stepped up and been playing great in our pre-season and league games. They come in and always play with passion and enthusiasm. It is refreshing to see players that have that desire to want to become better and do whatever they have to in order to help the team win.

Although our first three league games have all ended in double digit losses, I believe we are headed in the right direction. We are the youngest team in the league and our first three games have been against the three teams that are expected to compete for the league title. It has been another adjustment to the referees since we began league games. Favouritism is at its finest when we have competed against these top of the table teams. The number of fouls hasn’t been that different however, it seems when we are in the middle of making a run at the lead in the 4th quarter there are big calls that go against us. Against Lugano it was an unsportsmanlike foul when the lead was at 8 with 4 minutes left. In our last game at Fribourg it was technical fouls on back to back plays that provided the back breaking blows to our rally.

Recently I have been consumed with my fantasy football team that is currently only 2-5 but have won my last 2 matches so things are looking up. I have also been keeping up with the Bobcats as they continue their pursuit of perfection and look forward to the weekends and football games on Saturdays and Sundays. Another major event was the release of the new Taylor Swift cd. OK maybe not a life changing event but it gave me some new music to listen to while washing my dishes or folding my laundry. Sort of embarrassed to reveal how many times I’ve listened to “I Knew You Were Trouble” on repeat since I began writing this blog. My Xbox also took the plunge this week and got the ring of death. It almost became an international crisis until Dad called on Skype and was able to contact Xbox support and find out I could send it to the support center in Switzerland and get it refurbished for a small fee.

While overseas your weeks consist of routines. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday we always have practice at 6:30 in the evening. Tuesday and Thursday we have shooting and skill work in the afternoon and Thursday night we have practice at a different gym at 8pm. Every Wednesday we are off from practice. We have Italian speaking lessons for an hour and then coach local kids for an hour on Wednesdays. In three lessons we have learned numbers, greetings, how to tell time, conjugation of verbs, and some various other basic necessities of the language that relate to our daily lives. I am enjoying learning a new language that I have no base in. Because some of the country speaks German I am able to understand some words when I see them on products in Aldi or hear them said on the TV. It took me a few weeks but I finally figured out how to change some television programs to be shown in English. Among these are programs are: Homeland, Grey’s Anatomy, and ER. Most of the time however I just watch Soccer games that are on with German announcers ignoring the commentary and focusing on the game.

My girlfriend, Helen, also had a chance to return for five days in between her basketball and work schedule. It was so nice being able to see her and have her in attendance at our first league game. Although I wish it could have been for an extended period of time, her willingness to make the trip with all she has going on makes it mean that much more to me when she is here. She also came bearing gifts of chocolate and skittles which helped her cause of getting me to pay for her bus ride from the airport in Milan to the train station in Lugano and back. Long distance relationships are not always the easiest and in order for them to work constant communication is critical. By no means do we have a perfect relationship. I’m not even sure if a perfect relationship is possible. But we both value the little things and the moments we share together. We recall the laughs we shared and sacrifice for each other. We fight and we make up and forgive each other because at the end of the day we do care a great deal about one another.

The weather has definitely cooled off since arriving as fall is beginning to turn into winter. Rain is few and far between and generally the sun is shining even if the cold air is nipping through your clothes. As we have travelled to other parts of the country I realize how lucky I am to be playing basketball as my job in such a beautiful area. The natural beauty of the mountains rising from the lake provides breath taking photographic opportunities. I now see why people that I talked to before I left the Stats said that Lugano was such a wonderful place to visit. Massagno is a great place to call home for the next 6 months.

The team will continue to work hard on the court as we grow closer and continue to improve. While we might be the youngest team, I believe that we are team made up of winners and our pride will not allow us to accept failure for a sustained period of time. We might have to figure things out as we go along but we will find a solution to whatever obstacle we are presented with. Time will tell if this holds true but we are a tight knit group with the same goals in mind. It might take a while to get to where we want to be but it is all part of the process and growing as a team. Until next time, Ci Vidiamo Dopo (See you later)!!!!!!