The Darris Diaries

Our international correspondent sheds some light on life playing basketball overseas and shares his perspective on preseason practice under WVU head coach Bob Huggins

The preseason has officially ended -- that is probably the worst part about playing basketball. It did not go as well as I planned. After the tournament I mentioned in the last diary, we played in two more tournaments which I did not play in because of a high ankle sprain. It happened the next weekend in a tournament where I was running in for a rebound and stepped on a players foot. I was taken to the hospital after the game just to get an x-ray to make sure of things.

The tournament was in a little village in western Hungary so you can only imagine what the hospital was like. It looked like a scene from the movie Saw 5 or something (dark hallways with one light flickering on and off). I ended up being out for almost two weeks just because we do not have the medical technology that we had at WVU to get someone ready to play (shout out to Randy Meador, aka "Doc").

Our team really struggled the rest of the preseason and one of our other Americans was released. That showed me right there that it really is a job now. Just like any other job if you are not performing to their expectations, they will let you go.

The regular season just began and we are currently in first place, but with only two games under our belt. The first game was at home. I finished with 14 points and five assists. The second game we beat the team that was picked to finish in second on their home court. I was in foul trouble the whole game and only played about fifteen minutes, finishing with five points and five assists.

The refs here are very inconsistent. They will let you commit murder and then call a tic-tac foul so I have to get used to that.

Funny story: the refs were on strike because they feel they were not getting paid enough and lacked security at some of the worst gyms in the league. The league agreed to increase their pay and now when the refs run out after a game they are escorted by police in a glass box with wheels to prevent fans from attacking and throwing things at them.

I have been reading the forums and the predictions of the fans for the team this year and it is finally good to see that fans have high expectations for them this year. I know they will do well because I talk to (Joe) Mazzulla about once a week and he lets me know what is going on. I know he is eager to start the year how he finished.

Pre-season practices are the hardest part of the year. Huggs will tell you it is going to be the hardest thing you do in your life, and he was not lying. Now that it is over I can look back on it and laugh. When you go through hard times with people it makes you even closer and I think that is what helped us out as a team last year.

Once you are done with that part under, Huggs the rest will be nothing compared to that IF you do things the right way. I remember last year we had a practice where nothing was going right and he made us start the practice all over after about 30 minutes. When I say start it over, I mean stretching and getting loose all over again too. In-season practices are not as bad because you usually have two games a week and it is more preparation. I'm not saying Huggs will slack off at all – because he won't – but it's more mental, doing things like learning scouting report and personnel.

Many people ask about the treadmill. No, I have never been on there. I learned the secrets of how to stay off of it but I know some of the players may read this so for a small fee I will give you the secrets to stay off of it. The treadmill is definitely a motivating factor. I remember guys having to do up to thirty sprints on it at the end of some of the practices. The treadmill runs the whole practice at 15 mph and you run on it for I think 45 seconds and you have to jump on it for a straight sprint with no buildup. I have seen guys like Jamie Smalligan fall off many times.

Speaking of Jamie his is playing in Holland for a team called Landstede. His coach is good friends with Coach Beilein and they run very similar offenses. I talk to Jamie a lot and he is playing very well, which is good since a lot of people gave him a hard time last year.

I'm excited I get to go home for Christmas. Teams in Hungary get a two-week break, which is more time than I got at WVU all four years combined. I looked at the schedule and am thinking about catching a home basketball game and checking out the new Coliseum. Good luck to the basketball team on the upcoming season. Shout out to Courtnie, I miss you!

Keep the Hahn family in your prayers. God bless.

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