Alex Schmidt '14: The beginning of a mission: a behind-the scenes look at the Judges

Alex Schmidt '14 (courtesy Sportspix)

The beginning of a mission

Brandeis basketball 2012-2013 got underway earlier this August, with 12 returning players eager to prepare for two goals this upcoming year: a University Athletic Association title and - more importantly - an NCAA championship. We arrived on friday the 3rd of August looking forward to 10 days of preseason-type preparation: skill and team workouts and some team bonding exercises.  

About 10 days before our trip to Croatia, Gosman Gym welcomed us with 95-plus degree weather. Coach [Brian] Meehan and alumni Joe Coppens '08 and Terrell Hollins '10 as assistant coaches waiting with basketballs and sprint drills prepared.

After the initial wake-up call of our coaches, almost the entire team was ready to perform at the top level. Coach Hollins took the frontcourt players back to his own playing days with very physical body workouts. Coach Coppens led the guards down his own memory lane for some one-on-one coaching and skill development every morning. Coach Meehan joined the team in the afternoons to ensure a planned and strategized practice regimen, and combinations of team bonding and preparation for the new season's goal's sessions at night.

The years' and this summers' goals were made very clear: to make sure all our players are both mentally and physically prepared for our pre-season - starting October 15th - and gain further experience with regards to adversity and tuning into one frequency as a team unit rather than 12 players

On the 14th of August, we finally set off for Croatia, prepared to defend America's basketball reputation abroad. Unfortunately one of our teammates senior center Wouter van der Eng remained behind to fulfill his duties as a Community Advisor.

For our first game on August 16, the Croatian club KK Kastela was our assignment. The Judges started out strong, as Youri Dascy '14 in the post showed off some physical dominance through and Derek Retos '14 connected from behind the 3-point line on both fast break and set play opportunities.

The European rules, with regards to post play, screening and most of all traveling, presented a hindrance for the Judges at first, but by the 4th quarter, we seemed to finally get the hang of the subtleties.

Up by 13 heading into the 4th quarter, the wear-and-tear of an almost 20 hour trip on the started to catch up with us on the defensive end of the court, giving Kastela a last hope in the final minutes of play. But, led by Ben Bartoldus '14, the defense bounced back down the stretch and managed to fend off our hosts, the men of Kastela, 73-70. We concluded our first win in European territory with a true display of composure and unity! 

For more on our opening win, check out John Saucier's (Class of 2008) blog, which will be posted shortly.

I look forward to sharing more with you later in the trip!

Alex Schmidt '14