Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Keep it Movin'

     Where do we begin?  The last time I blogged was in my apartment in Pesaro, Italy.  I had quite an interesting off season this summer.  After the season ended in Italy, my family and I headed back home to Washington, D.C.  I haven't lived in my hometown in awhile so it was good to get back to what I know.  I was able to train at my alma mater, St. John's College High School, as well as work out with guys I grew up with, i swear the competition of hoopers in my area is 2nd to none.  Oh yeah and most importantly, I married my best friend!


Great Day!!

     Fast forward a few months and now we are living in Holon, Israel.  Holon is about fifteen minutes outside of Tel Aviv.  I'm now playing for Hapoel Holon.  I am excited about this year.  I am ready to play and experience the Winner league as well.  We have adjusted easily and even been invited to a shabbat dinner (that will be its own blog post).  Here are a few photos from our time in Israel thus far.  

We were getting familiar with our neighborhood.

CJ had his first day of daycare in Israel.  It's nice to walk him to school before practice in the morning.

This is one of our favorite places to visit, Bat Yam Beach.

     Right now, we are nearing the end of our preseason.  We had a few scrimmages and have been working hard in practice.  We start our season off with a Winner cup tournament with the top eight teams from last year.  Our first game is tomorrow evening.  I really like our team this year.  We have a good group of guys on and off the court.  Stay tuned for season five. Fight MS.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Power of Stretching

     With the season in full swing, blogging has been a little difficult and the free time I do get I like to relax with my family.  Sometimes it feels great to just do absolutely nothing, especially after a physical game.  One thing I have noticed this season is I have become a lot more fluid.  I feel quicker and lighter.  This past off season I honed in on stretching and nutrition.  I met with a nutritionist and we discussed my diet and making a few changes.  I also met with a trainer that really got me in to stretching.
A part of my routine every morning!

     I never really put too much of an effort in to stretching because it didn't really seem that important to me.  This summer I was introduced to fascia stretching.  I went from stiffly squatting (with my own weight) to smoothly squatting and almost touching the floor with ease.  I could not believe how flexible I was and how good I felt.  After a few sessions of Fascia Stretching, I came up with my own routine.  
Body squat- try to get as low to the ground as possible without losing balance!

     I really think stretching has made a difference in my game this season.  I try to make it a habit to stretch every morning and at night.  I feel more explosive and I am able to bend and contort my body while I am in the lane.  This allows me to absorb the foul as well as make the shot.
Finishing through contact (Photo found on VL Pesaro Facebook)

     Stretching has not only benefited my game, but it also helps with my MS.  The stretching elongates my muscles which helps reduce muscle spasms (a common symptom of MS).  I like to do range of motion stretches that help with the flexibility in my hips as well as stretching my quads, hamstrings, and back.  

Like father, like son.  CJ likes to help me stretch.

     This is a critical part of the season for my team and I want to control everything that I can.  Stretching has helped me after very physical games and my recovery time has been cut shorter because of stretching.   

Forza Vuelle!! (Photo found on VL Pesaro Facebook)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Adriatic Sea

   So much has gone on in the last month, I don't even know where I should start...

     As you know, I was playing in the NBA D-league for the Bakersfield Jam.  In fact, I was starting to play very well!  Then all of a sudden I received a call from my agent saying a team in Italy offered me a contract.  I jumped at the new opportunity right away, not because it was more money, but because I thought it would be the right decision for my career.  When I told my Bakersfield coaches, they were definitely happy for me, but at the same time didn't want to see me leave so soon.  I understood because I felt the same.  I had a really close relationship with my head coach and after much consideration I decided to leave Bakersfield and go finish this season in Pesaro, Italy for Victorias Libertas! 

     Pesaro, Italy is an interesting and beautiful city in Europe.  It is rare to find an Italian city where basketball comes first.  Everyone in the town loves basketball and really appreciates and supports the club.  Most of the time when traveling to Europe to play, you are second in line when it comes to sports because soccer is so big over here, especially in Italy.  So, coming to a city with such a rich basketball history and tradition is special.  The biggest and most surprising aspect of Pesaro is the hospitality and the genuine love and support that everyone seems to have.  From the President of the club to teammates and fans, everyone has a love for the game of basketball and have been nothing, but accommodating to my family and I.  The city of Pesaro has really made this feel like home and they have embraced us as their own.  It is pretty amazing to experience.

Signing my name alongside my new teammate's names 

Taking in the history of Pesaro's greatest players in a museum created by a fan!! 
     I have yet to play a game because of the All Star break that is going on right now, so in the meantime I've been doing my best to get adjusted to the team and style of play that the coach wants us to play.  It has been a tough season thus far for the club, so we need every bit of practice and any extra time we can use to try to turn things around this season.  I know they are expecting positive changes since my arrival and I am expecting to have a major impact on the team to help us win.

Extra workouts with my favorite rebounder in the gym!
     In the meantime, I have been in the gym nonstop. I firmly believe that the recipe for success is to work hard and smart. Every night regardless of what time practice was that day or if we had two, I go in the gym late to work extra.  I have been a professional for 4 years and been blessed to see some of the greatest to ever play this game and what they do when no one is watching is the reason why they are so successful.  The countless hours in the gym perfecting their jump shot, working on their footwork, and watching film is the reason they continue to play at a high level for so many years.   So of course, I take pride in trying to perfect my craft and strengthen my weaknesses. #FightMS

Fight MS!! Never Give Up!!