Augie in China: Preparation underway

Augustana senior Kyle Nelson and his teammates are getting ready to travel to China in early August. He will be blogging regularly on about the team’s journey.

Nelson’s first installment follows:

For three years I have heard stories from teammates about their tour to China in 2007. Every single story they told, whether it was about a game they played against a Chinese Basketball Association team or if it was about going out at night and experiencing Chinese nightlife, left a great impression on me. When the team went in 2007, I was an incoming freshman and NCAA rules did not allow us to participate in any practices or the trip itself. I am very excited to finally be able to go, in my senior year, and experience all of the excitement that the last trip generated first hand. I know that this trip, shared with coaches, their families and teammates, is going to be a life changing and memorable experience for all of us. Aug. 3, our departure date from O’Hare, cannot get here soon enough.

The past two weekends and also this coming weekend, our team has gathered at the Carver Center to participate in the ten practice days that the NCAA grants to teams going on a foreign tour. The attitude in the gym has been positive and full of excitement. The practices have been very intense and it has been interesting to play with a few different rules that the international game has compared to the NCAA. For example, the ball that we are playing with is slightly smaller than what we are used to here, the lane is much wider, the ball can be hit off the rim when it is still bouncing and finally, maybe the difference that is taking the most adjustment, is that the shot clock is now 24 seconds instead of the usual 35. This has really forced us to work on playing faster and quicker decisions during the game. Playing under these new rules is something unique and these practices are helping us prepare as if it were the beginning of the season.

The most difficult thing thus far during these summer practices has been coping with how hot the Carver Center gets during practice. When were playing, it feels like it is 100 degrees in there and that took a while to get used to. We have had to switch baskets frequently because guys are sweating so much people are slipping everywhere. A few guys have even had to sit out a few drills to shake out some lightheadedness and exhaustion. Even though the heat is extreme, Coach G has insisted that this is great for us because it is just like how it will be in China. Hopefully the heat training pays off and helps against our competition in China and further on down the road.

Once overseas, we will be playing some talented opponents. After a scrimmage against Hong Kong Baptist University, the Vikings will be lining up against the defending CBA champions, the Guangdong Southern Tigers. After these games, we will play three more university teams and one more CBA team. The competition is some of the best that China has to offer and we are all excited to represent Augustana and the United States on the other side of the world.

Next time you hear from me we’ll be getting ready to enjoy a 13 hour flight to China!

— Kyle Nelson