Baller’s Log

Overall Record (since July 29, 2013): 59-35.2

Aug 20th 2014: 6:05pm-7:15pm
Location: CREC UNL
Record: 3-1
Notes: Showed up and walked on a team that was one short, thankfully they were playing on the ‘old’ arena side with the better lighting, unfortunately they seem to insist that teams play shirts and skins. Every other possession we had to stop play to wipe down the synthetic-leather ball because it would get slippery after some shirtless player caught it with their body. Beside that the ball was pretty good. My team had two older dudes who played defense and knew how to cut, space the floor, and shoot. We got out to a lead and then kept it during the first, second, and third games. In the fourth game we went cold shooting from behind the arc. As I’m still kinda new at the CREC it took til about 1/2 way through the first game before my guy started playing off me (I prefer to pass rather then shoot). I ran a small basketball camp last weekend in Minnesota and got in a bunch of shooting so even though I didn’t get up any shots before the game started I was feeling pretty confident. Just as my guy was yelling “don’t help, he doesn’t shoot” I rose up called “glass” and banked in a shot from the right side of the court. In game two I was 2 for 3 from the field including the game winner from the right elbow. I really liked playing with the guys on my team and asked them when they normally played. My goal is to come out and play with them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5pm whenever I can.

Aug 18th 2014: 6:45pm-7:15pm
Location: CREC UNL
Record: 0-1
Notes: Got picked up on the best court to run two down with a weak team against a group that had some actual athletes on it. They guy I was guarding was 6’6″ tall and had a smooth jump shot from behind the arc, could dunk with ease, and tried fairly hard. He and a their 5’6″ point guard were there best shooters. My guy did seem to have difficulty shooting with accuracy when I was up on him so I just tried to contest his shot somewhat, even if it was lower than ball level and not much of a threat. He was 0-4 in the half court when I was guarding him and 2-2 in transition / secondary break (both dunks) when I had to run out and chase 5’6″ off the the 3 point line. Somehow we got out to a 7-2 lead only to see them come back as some of my teammates stopped getting back on defense and 5’6″ hit some wide open shots from behind the arc.

July 23rd 2014: 5:35pm-7:15pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 4-0
Notes: Ran with a shoot-first point guard who actually knew how to balance ball distribution and communicate. His most devastating move was a Chauncey Billups pull-up jumper from behind the arc in transition that got less effective as we racked up the wins but was more welcome as I got more tired. One of his friends, a 6’5″ fundamentally sound, well coached, and good humored big man named Sam was the key to our defense, he must have had 3-5 blocks per game. We also had a gangly guy who wore stylish goggles (well, as stylish as goggles are allowed to be) and a Chinese baller who played great defense and had a solid all-around game including shooting from behind the arc. As we were on the second-best court we racked up wins against flawed teams, but it was still fun to run with a group of guys for a bunch of games in a row. I lifted and spent a few minutes with an oversized heavy ball to simulate passing as I feel my passes aren’t as fast or accurate as they once were.

July 21st 2014: 5:25pm-7:35pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 1-3
Notes: I was gonna run with Vince, Josh, Justin and the fellas but they got picked up and I was left off the team so I played on the next court over. Ball was okay but I didn’t feel much energy so I made sure to spend extra time lifting. I wasin Houston for about a week and didn’t ball. Also, my friend Grant dislocated his shoulder during a game, he just stood with his right arm down and his body tilted over to the right so that his shoulder blades were nearly perpendicular to the floor for about 15 minutes. About the time the ambulance was on its way and the rec-sports staff were gathered around him it shifted back into place and he stood up and was good enough to call off EMS. His last words were, “see you in a month.”

July 9th 2014: 5:50pm-7:35pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 1-2
Notes: I went straight to the court before changing out of my office casual to see if I could pickup only to find no waiting on court two where the best game happened to be going on. I went and changed and by the time I got back there were four guys already waiting including Vince. I got picked up and we managed to win that first game thanks in large part to all of us being fresh and using that first-game energy. We all played worse in game two against basically the same squad and lost, waited a game and then lost again. I would have stuck around for another game but Josh, one of the other ballers, wanted to play squash and racquetball so I cut it short and he left the winning team to play three games of each. I hadn’t played either since I left UT Austin three years ago and I forgot how demanding individual sports are, while you can rest between points it’s harder to conserve energy during game play due to not being able to lean on teammates (something I’ll do on the offensive end). By the time we were done they were closing the gym in 15 minutes so no time to lift.

July 7th 2014: 5:35pm-7:40pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 2-2.2
Notes: I had picked up Kirk, a regular baller with a good outside shot and passing skills and was planning to pick up either Josh, Vince, and this other guy if they lost or three guys who didn’t suck on the other team. Before the game finished three HS sophomores came over and asked if they could run next with me. My policy is to pickup guys on the sidelines who ask over guys in the game so I picked them up despite my concerns. A guy in the game before ours got hurt and I got picked up and got in a few points–I counted it as 0.2 of a loss above since I was only in for 3-4 minutes. After that game my squad went up against Josh and Vince’s team. Each of the three 16 year olds had game, the best was a rebounding wing player, he did his thing and played defense. One of the other two was 6’3″ and had nice touch around the rim. He struggled on defense, not because he wasn’t good at it but because he took possessions off. The last guy was a shoot-first point guard. His shot was two-handed, erratic, and his offensive game suffered from poor judgement. If he missed a shot he would try and double-team whoever had the ball in an attempt to make up for it–which just gave the other team a chance to force us to over-rotate. We won the first game thanks to two-handed sinking three pull-up jumpers from behind the arc. We won the second game on a banked three. Two-handed and 6’3″ went out to the pool and we picked up Josh and his friend. We lost and I got picked up by the winning team and we lost again. I lifted but the weight room was packed so I just did a few sets on the machines that were open and left. In thinking about how miserable I was playing with two-hands I think part of it is that I’d much rather play with people who are less athletic, more collaborative, and more strategic; players who like to share the ball and try on defense. I know they were young and that there are many styles of play, also they were a big part of us winning. But for me, for my enjoyment, give me the Spurs every day all day over shoot-first-combo guards and turn-taking. Also, I packed a long-sleeved shirt by accident so I was forced to wear my undershirt instead, which was fine until the third game when it became a wet tee-shirt contest and some people seemed disturbed by the sight.

June 30th 2014: 5:15pm-8:10pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 2-2
Notes: Played with Vince and a few others against one of those teams that had way more shooting that most pickup teams. We won based on rebounding only to lose the next game as the losing team ran it back but added one of the best players at UIUC. In the last game I played the point guard on the other team stepped on my foot on a drive while I was backpedaling and I tweaked my knee (it felt like an alternating lack of inner and outer stability in the back of my left knee). I stayed in the game but switched off onto someone else as it messed with my head. Didn’t lift.

June 27th 2014: 6:00pm-8:20pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-0
Notes: After some dispute about who had next, I picked up three guys from the losing team and we strung together three wins before everyone remembered it was Friday night and they needed to go out. Lifted afterward. The vignette in **part one of the You Got Next? post** describes part of this night in detail (forthcoming).

***During this time I played about 1.5 times per week but did not log my games.***

January 27th 2014: 6:45pm-7:30pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-1
Notes: It was -12 degrees with windchill and it seemed like everyone decided to come to the gym and run, lift, play ball. I got picked up with the group that had next and after about 20 minutes we found ourselves playing a team that had two guys who usually win when they play together, one of which could not miss from behind the arc. It killed us and we were all-too-quickly dispatched. I thought I got picked up to play one down but when I found out I had two down I went to lift instead.

January 23rd 2014: 6:35pm-8:00pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-0
Notes: Walked in and got picked up 15 minutes later by a team that had just won. Our guard play and inside game were both very shaky but this was the JV court and there were lots of non-regulars on both teams so it didn’t cripple us. After pulling away in the first game we picked up the other teams best player (a legit center with a post-up game). We won the next game 15-6, and the third 15-8. At some point in the second game my glasses broke and I played without them. I’m working on a blog post about it that should be out early next week. It was -23 degrees with windchill, I had icicles hanging off my beard just walking to the car after I was done.

January 13th 2014: 6:15pm-8:05pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-0
Notes: walked in and got picked up after about 10 minutes by a team that had just won. We reeled off three straight wins. The first two due mostly to a willingness on our part to hustle, rebound, and play defense. The third game took longer because we were starting to get tired and stopped playing as hard, but after some cold shooting we snapped out of it and pulled out a win. It was one of those games where three of us didn’t believe in our shots and it led to more passing but we were passing up better shots. Lifted afterward.

January 11th 2014: 4:20pm-6:00pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-0
Notes: the ARC had been closed for about a month and this was the first day it was open again. The other gym on campus is just not as nice and it was great to be back on a familiar court. We won a close game despite the other team having the best player and us having a guy who tried to tell everyone what to do. I found this annoying but possibly because he was stepping on my identity as a baller. In the second game we picked up the two best players on the losing team and won the next two games a little more easily. In the third game I was 3 for 3 from behind the arc. Our team’s point guard was actually setting me up for 3s. Normally I don’t shoot much but my New Year’s resolution is to shoot when I’m open and it makes sense. In these games I let them fly and was 6 for 9 from deep.

I played ball in November and December but failed to log the games here.

October 31st 2013: 6:45pm-8:15pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-2
Notes: walked in and got picked up right away on the best court, we lost two games in a row but I guarded the best player on the other team and kept him off the boards and limited him to bank-shot 3s and kick-outs, it was one of the first times I knew nearly everyone on the court and felt like my game was respected. Usually the losing takes me down, tonight I felt community.

October 22nd 2013: 7:30pm-9:45pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 4-0
Notes: walked into the gym and got picked up by a guy I know right away, we reeled off four wins in a row, I took 2 shots over the four games, we nearly lost game 3 but a dude in a neon green tank-top short-armed an 8 foot shot–found out later he had just finished lifting.

October 20th 2013: 3:10pm-5:35pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-2
Notes: lost the first game, got picked up by the winning team, reeled off three wins and then lost, i try and guard the other team’s best player, I usually do pretty well, sometimes about half-way through the game whoever I’m guarding switches onto someone else who keeps scoring against them, if we’ve won and the other team seems to have quality bigs I’ll stand in the post to start the game, otherwise I’ll stand at the top of the key if they have a good point guard.

October 18th 2013: 8:10pm-9:45pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-2
Notes: got on a team I thought was going to be good only to get beaten twice, we had issues getting back in transition, issues matching up off of offensive rebounds, and issues with athleticism, I didn’t want to leave on a loss but I didn’t see things getting any better.

October 15th 2013: 7:40pm-9:35pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-0
Notes: played three games all with the same group against varying competition, in the first game we eeked out a victory despite not having any shooting on our side, in third game the team we played went into a 2-3 zone. Pickup ballers don’t know how to play zone so few of my teammates understood how to beat a zone but after some suggestions we adjusted enough to win (cut through the lane, crash the boards for rebounds, overload one side, and make quick passes). In the second game I got elbowed in the left bicept (think Charlie Horse) rather unpleasant but way better than a sprained ankle.

October 10th 2013: 5:40pm-7:05pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 1-1
Notes: ran a ton of pick and roll with a guy I’d played with before, the kind of rugby-type guy you want on your team but don’t want to guard or box out or deal with on the other team, after the game he asked me if I wanted to join his intramural layer-league squad, this was the first test of my left knee, which seemed fine.

October 5th 2013: 2:40pm-5:15pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 4-2
Notes: I normally don’t play on back to back days but Blake let me know that he was going to be in town and did I want to play with him? We went 1-1 together before getting on different teams. Blake is a great guy and a good teammate until he gets tired, then he tends to grow blinders and try do things himself a.la. Kobe mode, but like I said, he’s a great guy and talking with him on the sidelines is nearly as fun as playing. After the first two games I was going to leave but got picked up walking past a court by three guys I like playing with. In game five my knee locked up / gave out slightly but there was no pain associated with it (playing 10 games in 2 days was fun but probably a bad idea).

October 4th 2013: 6:10pm-8:15pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 1-3
Notes: I have no recollection of these games, just my record.

September 8th 2013: 6:35pm-8:55pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-0
Notes: played three games all with the same group against decent competition, went 2 for 2 over the three games (a three and a floater), the best guy on our team just started taking all the shots at the beginning of the game which seemed odd and counter productive, lifted. I usually get a vegetarian burrito after playing but it was too close to 10pm when I finished (in small town USA Chipotle closes at 10).

September 5th 2013: 5:15pm-7:05pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-3
Notes: played with a group of guys who I’d never seen at the gym before, we lost (court 1) so I moved to court 3, lost twice there too due to rebounding issues and some raw players, also I couldn’t get into a grove, maybe I need to shoot a bit more or increase my frequency a bit to up my confidence, lifted and swam.

September 1st 2013: 7:05pm-7:55pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-1
Notes: no one at the gym for some reason, finally scraped together 10 people to play, lifted.

August 29th 2013: 6:15pm-8:05pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 2-1
Notes: guy I was guarding in the first game went backdoor on me for an alley-oop dunk, I called a guy out for not getting back on defense whenever he missed a shot (often) or turned the ball over (less often), after the game he said he felt singled out on a team of people w issues, got picked up by the winning team and reeled off two easy wins, lifted and swam.

August 26th 2013: 5:35pm-7:10pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-1
Notes: lots of new faces (freshmen and transfer students), took an hour to get a game, played with four guys who were friends, our defense of the secondary break was terrible, the best player on the other team torched us for 6 points and then abruptly left the game to take his 4 and 6 year old boys home (they were sitting on the sidelines for at least 90 mins playing with an iPhone while their dad played), he was replaced with an even better player who scored 6 of their final 7 points, I should have shot more as three of the four guys on my teams were not ballers, lifted and swam after playing.

August 23rd 2013: 4:55pm-7:10pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 4-0
Notes: a sea of new faces (mostly freshmen), all courts were 4 down so I got about 90 mins of shooting in, played with four guys who regularly ball together, good communication and in every game we had a distinct cohesion and height advantage, lifted and swam after playing

August 15th 2013: 4:45pm-6:50pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-1
Notes: lost the first game and then got on a stacked team, we won so handily the team waiting and the losing team went to another court to play each other instead of against us, played with a guy who was 6’7″ and build like a tree trunk, the passing angles change drastically when playing with guys who are that much taller than everyone else, lifted after playing

August 12th 2013: 5:04pm-6:42pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 3-1
Notes: despite being on an over-matched team I had a chance to win the first game with a Steve Nash-like underhand scoop layup but missed (I didn’t feel a foul but one of the defenders called it (we still lost)), reeled off a string of three wins in a row on the junior varsity court, hit a game winning mid-range jumper from the wing on an iso

August 7th 2013: 4:00pm-5:22pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-1
Notes: took an hour before there were enough players to run 5s, typical mixed-ability summer ball, played with my 5’6″ roommate from South Korea, he was active on the offensive glass and a willing passer, had to leave by 5:30 so only one game

August 4th 2013: 3:35pm-5:30pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 2-2
Notes: got to the court and started playing right away, typical mixed-ability summer ball, guarded a 6’4″ wing player who said he played on the under 16 and under 19 national teams for Wales, UK, gray basketball tee smelled fine after i washed it twice in hot water, lifted for an hour after playing

August 1st 2013: 4:45pm-4:50pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 0-0
Notes: got out of work later than I had planned but still had enough time to play one game before meeting my girlfriend to go out to dinner, trouble was… each court was 2 down, two guys had next and tried to pick me up and I had to tell them that I couldn’t stay–they just kinda looked at me dumfounded, did 17 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by 15 minutes of lifting

July 29th 2013: 4:15pm-5:30pm
Location: ARC UIUC
Record: 1-1
Notes: shot around for 25 mins while waiting for enough people to run 5s, typical mixed-ability summer ball, hit the game-winning 3 in the first game, guarded Milton–a 6’5″ forward, had to leave early, no time to lift afterward, I think I need to boil or burn my gray basketball tee shirt as it smelled like aged sweat before I even started playing (despite washing it)

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