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World University Games Blog #5

World University Games Blog #5

Matt Ryan (Wisconsin Men's Basketball)

Welcome to the fifth installment of the World University Games blog on UWBadgers.com. Follow along as Wisconsin video coordinator Matt Ryan takes us along on Team USA’s trip to Colorado Springs and Serbia. Matt, who is the Director of Basketball Operations for Team USA, will bring the inside perspective as only the son of Team USA head coach Bo Ryan can. Check back regularly for more updates from the World University Games.

Blog #5: Sunday, June 28, 2009

SerbSerb, SerbSerb, Sa, Serbia… Bellgrraaade!

We made it safely but our bodies are still trying to adjust from a long travel day as well as the new time zone. We lost eight hours on the trip and after we were settled in our rooms, we practiced in order to break a sweat. The players only did a few full court drills and shot some free throws but our trainer Jason and Coach Ryan thought it was imperative that our guys got on the court, even if for a short period of time.

Our last scrimmage against the U19’s was on Wednesday night before we left for Serbia. We practiced that morning while the U19’s had the whole morning and afternoon off. From the beginning I could tell our guys were tired and sluggish. We won the first and second quarters by 3 and 6 points playing man-to-man defense. Since we only had two quarters left to prepare for our first opponent, Canada tonight at 9 p.m., Coach Ryan finally implemented our zone defense in scrimmage play.

Unsuccessful is the only word I can use for what happened in the third quarter. Our guys were dead tired, not flying out at shooters, no communication, guys being left wide open underneath and especially on the perimeter; personally I think this is a great man-to-man defensive team and the coaches agree. With our quickness, we switch very well defensively and the man-to-man D is starting to sink into our player’s heads. It’s good to know our guys have learned a zone and can perform the task when necessary, but as our staple defense, it is not going to work. I think it will be used sparingly for certain match ups and possibly coming out of a timeout, but a lot of these teams can shoot the heck out of the ball. Playing zone against a team full of good shooters has never been a good idea in my opinion.

After the U19’s shot lights out in the third quarter, we go back to man in the fourth and by this point; our guys didn’t have much left in the tank. I will say they gave a great effort to finish things out in Colorado and we had a chance to tie in the final minute but we missed some more free throws. In the end, we attempted 9 more shots and 7 more free throws but still lost by 5. (The U19’s shot about 9-10% better in both categories)

We finished up at the gym, and I completed all of my video duties.  My crew and I decided to go try and figure out why our favorite hangout did not require teeth. Looks like, how do I say this… “mind-altering substances” might have a hand in this one.

We get there and Craigers immediately has a woman come up to him trying to persuade him to donate money to her friend’s band with a name I cannot repeat. Craigers simply says, “So let me get this straight, you want me to donate money to your friend’s band who I don’t even know?” She was there with an old man who looked like Santa Claus, but with a beer stained tank-top and tattoos. And I don’t think there is enough egg nog in the world to put Santa in this condition. She continues on until the bartender kicks her out and Dan, the U19’s trainer who doesn’t care when his friends are choking, had to step on a fallen bar stool the intoxicated woman had kicked over earlier, because she was attempting to pick it up and throw it at Craigers. (for no reason may I add)  I suppose he isn’t such a bad friend after all.

Once Bad Santa and random intoxicated woman left, I met a guy from Eau Claire, Wis. who told me how random this neighborhood bar was. It’s a place surrounded by low income housing, located directly across from the Olympic Training Center.  Not to mention, I’m told Michael Phelps has been known to frequent our hangout.  He proceeds to tell me he was held up at gunpoint and robbed two months earlier directly outside of the bar. An interesting place to say the least. But I disgress…

Our trip to Serbia the following morning was long and tiring. It was a day of traveling while losing 8 hours so it felt like two days by the time we got into our new dormitories. I am now sharing a room with 6 other people. It is more like an apartment building so it is not technically one room. There are 3 beds in our section, 3 in another where the two women who are with us sleep (Jenny and Caroline who are essentially the women’s and men’s sports information directors) and our team trainer and doctor in the other. I should mention our lady woogies are playing in Serbia and staying here as well.

There are no shower curtains in both bathrooms and I was the first one to shower when we arrived. I dropped the shower head about 2 or 3 times causing the bathroom floor, toilet and walls to be covered in water.  Fortunately for everyone the drain on the floor wasn’t working. My bad. I made a rather early call to housekeeping. We have already labeled our section, “Real World Serbia”. I’m the single guy who annoys everybody.

Today we had practice, a lot of run through stuff on our offensive plays and tonight we play Canada after the Serbia vs. Russia game. This is a pre-World University Game tournament to serve as a warm-up for the real competition. Serbia and Russia are two of the best teams here and definitely two of the biggest and most athletic.

By the time this blog gets posted we will have already played Canada (editor’s note: Team USA defeated Canada 85-81) and we play Serbia Sunday night in another “friendly” match before we start the WUGs. I have heard rumors Serbia is a clear favorite to win considering they have not lost here in 20 years or so. I am not looking forward to the officiating when we battle Serbia on their home court.

Random thoughts and events:
1.) There was more than one movie option on the plane after all. The problem is that the manliest movie of the 5 was, He’s Just Not That Into You.  I watched it considering I had 8 hours to kill and in the end I realized if all the roles in the movie were reversed and the title was, “She’s Just Not That Into You”, I could have related.
2.) I ate my first Serbian meal and all I can say is, thanks for the “digestion” meds mommy!!
3.) I’m on strike 3 (out number one with the females) but I cannot discuss further in case this one reads my infamous bloggage.

I will have plenty more fun and basketball for you after Sunday’s game vs. Serbia. Until next time Americans. Matty out.

Blog #1 - Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Blog #2 - Saturday, June 20, 2009
Blog #3 - Monday, June 22, 2009
Blog #4 - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Appears in Men's Basketball Blog

Tagged with Men's Basketball Blog, World University Games

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