Look at all those fresh, young faces in the blue uniforms (except that guy with the ball).
Courtesy Mike Bruesewitz
Since the day I turned 18 I have been constantly telling myself that I am getting old, but I never really believed it till I showed up for my first practice with the new squad. It is always an interesting feeling walking into a new situation both in life and in basketball because you really do not know what to expect.
The way my job works is extremely strange because I have gotten very little information about every new team and country I have been a part of in my three seasons as a pro. I show up and the team gives me an apartment/place to set my things, which I have no control over. I then go to a gym that is hopefully the same quality as a high school gym in U.S. but will most likely make Henry Sibley’s (my alma mater) gym look like a cathedral.
For this trip I am fortunate to have a quality place to live and actually some very high quality facilities to play in. My season last year featured some pretty awful living arrangements as well as some very poor athletic facilities. Norway has an extremely high standard of living and even though basketball is not a huge sport, they do have wooden floors, glass backboards and keep the heat on past 4 p.m.
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I had a couple of informal emails with my new coach Lars Gunnar, who gave me a rundown of where I would be living, what to bring, and what the team might look like come Aug. 31. Baerum Basket had made it all the way to the finals last year and it looked as if they would have there core group returning minus a small forward who is now playing for Drake. They were hoping to return the best point guard in Norway, an 18-year-old combo guard committed to Montana State, and a handful of young role players who really came into their own last year.
Unfortunately a few things happened as they always do and the team lost everyone except one role player and the point guard. To replace these guys are talented youngsters who attend one of the three sports high schools in Norway. Yes you did read correct, I said high school.
Upon entering my first practice I looked at my new squad and saw some extremely young faces. So young in fact that the average age of the team is 19 — and that is generous — with a couple of outliers, which include myself (25) and Stion (26) my new point guard. I always believed I had a young face because of my boyish good looks and the fact I still only have to shave once every two weeks, but next to 17 and 18 year olds I look and feel aged well beyond my years. Aside from having a very young team I am excited about the season and really look forward to playing with Stion who lead the team both in scoring and assists last year.
My first impressions of my new home were a little dull at the beginning. I am in a strange apartment that is grossly overfurnished and my body is still trying to figure out where it is in the world and when to sleep and when to be awake. Thankfully it rained for the first few days here, because it gave me a valid excuse to do nothing but watch movies and catch up on much needed sleep.
On my next blog I will cover the importance of a good relationship with coaches overseas and how getting lost in downtown Oslo is an expensive mistake.