Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gold medal game

We picked the right time to have our best effort, focus, and execution in the tournament. 78-62 was the final. Our kids played a fantastic game, shared the ball, played as a fist, and stayed together throughout. As I have stated in this blog a number of times, this is an incredibly impressive group of young men. Not only can they play ball, but they will be attending some of the top academic institutions in the country.  

Spencer Weisz was named tournament MVP after recording a triple double. But our team defenses was the real story. 

We  had tremendous support from our delegation as well as the other basketball teams in the Youth division.  A big thanks to the parents and families of our kids as well. The smiles on their faces and the realization that their kids had accomplished a terrific feat was better than any gold hanging around our necks. 

Win the day,

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day before Gold medal game

We have reached the point of our trip where our goal is within reach.  We practiced yesterday at Wingate with a great, public film session in the Maccabiah cyber zone. 

We had a nice crowd for this session but the kids were very focused on learning about our opponent.   

We then traveled to a small IDF base consisting of only 20 soldiers all between the ages of 18-24. This hit home for our guys.  We talked about their missions and their role in the Israeli Army.  We shared stories about what it means to be a part of a team.  The soldiers were big basketball fans and our guys quickly became fans of these soldiers. 

Sunday night we will compete for a Gold Medal. Eventhough our goal entering this trip was to "win everything," we realize, and appreciate, the impact of those who we have met, the places we have visited, and the relationships we have forged. This is a spectacular country that stretches far beyond its physical boarders. We are lucky to have had this opportunity and are all better people for it. 

Win the day,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Semi Finals vs Brazil

USA 63 brazil 37. 

Total team effort during a tough, physical game. Loved the poise our guys showed throughout the game as they showed some great mental toughness. We have now earned the right to play Israel for the Gold Medal on Sunday might. Might be on at 1pm est. 

- jamie

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Preliminary game #3 vs Turkey

Another good effort, final score USA 100 Turkey 11.  Tougher test today in Canada which will be our final preliminary game. 

Preliminary game #2

USA 101 Great Britain 28. Playing Turkey at 8pm tonight. 
- Jamie

Monday, July 22, 2013

Preliminary game one vs South Africa

Needles to say our team was very excited to get on the court and play tonight. We can out very focused and played with great enthusiasm and execution which took us to a 105-15 win.  Everyone had major contributions.  Next up is Great Britain at 6pm. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Opening Ceremonies

The saying "hurry up and wait" could never have been more true last night. After a morning at Wingate to practice and prepare for competition. We put on our white Adidas warm-up suites and Team USA gear and took off for Jerusalem.

We boarded a train in Tel Aviv while people cheered and greeted us with warm smiles and best wishes.  When we exited the train, Teddy Stadium was only a short walk away. 

We mingled with other athletes and coaches from every delegation involved. Met tons of new people and, of course, traded some gear.   The entrance of Team USA was met with the second loudest ovation (Israel took top honors).  It was a tremendous rush for all of us. 

The ceremony concluded with Aly Raisman lighting the torch and a spectacular concert.   It was a long night but an unforgettable one at that. 
Let the games begin!
- Jamie

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Opening ceremony

We are on a train to Teddy stadium in Jerusalem for the opening ceremonies!

The team is eager to get the games rolling. We open up on the 21st against South Africa. More to come...
- jamie 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Touring days

The past two days have been very engaging, physically challenging, and emotionally introspective. It's great to see how young people react. We went from rubbing mud and floating in the Dead Sea, 

and standing on the top of Masada 

to taking in the powerful imagery of Yad Veshem (Holocaust museum). 

What a powerful two days capped with a B'nai Mitzvah celebration as the sun was setting in Jerusalem. 

In hoops,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Best day yet

We knew that this trip was about so much more than just competing, today was one of those days in which we saw this first hand.  

As a basketball coach, I am constantly impressed by the attention span and focus of our group. We have such a strong sense of togetherness, on and off the court, which will hopefully translate to success on the court.  After our early practice, We left the hotel after lunch at 1230pm and headed to the holy city of Jerusalem.

We first headed to the water tunnels of Ir David (City of David), where water was funneled into the Old City of Jerusalem. We walked through the dry part of the tunnels (the parts still carrying water were a bit too short for many of our players). 

Following the tunnels we headed into the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall. The Kotel, as it is called in Hebrew, is the remaining western retaining wall that surrounded the second temple which was rebuilt by Herrod after being partially destroyed. The area is a site holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians and is one of the most introspective and spiritual places to visit. That was clear on the faces of the players after we left (thanks @elliotsteinmetz). 

It was a tremendous experience to see them have this opportunity to literally touch their past. 

In hoops,
- jamie

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Touring and a day off from practice

Today was Shabbat. Most of the team went to visit the tank museum at Latrun as well as some caves near Tel Aviv.

Latrun is the area where a British fortress used to stand that Israeli soldiers attempted five times to conquer in the hopes of freeing the blockage by Jordanian soldiers of the road to Jerusalem in 1948. 

A number remained back in the hotel for Shabbat and spent the day using the pool and courts at the hotel. 

Upon the return of the tour, we had a big BBQ and party at the hotel with live music and dancing. A great spectacle as 900 of the American athletes and coaches got together for a fun and social evening.

 Tomorrow we go back to early morning practice followed by a tour through the water tunnels as well as a trip to Jerusalem. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Practice day 5

An assist goes out to my assistant coach Elliot Steinmentz for documenting the history surrounding our Israel connect trip today. 

We have now moved on from training camp to the Israel Connect Program.  We were up for practice at 6:30 AM. 

Later, we took buses to Tel Aviv where we visited Rabin Square (the place of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination), as well as the house where Ben Gurion declared Israel's independence on May 14, 1948, a Friday, just like today.

In between, we visited the old city of Yaffo, an old port city right on the Mediterranean.  We ended the day with a Shabbat service outside at the Kfar Maccabiah followed by a delegation, Shabbat dinner. 

- Jamie

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 4 training camp

In the gym at 6:30 AM today working to get better was just breakfast for us today. We laced them up at noon for a hard-fought exhibition vs the Israeli JR National team in their training facility. This team will be traveling to Macedonia next week for the World Championships. While we lost the game 66-64, we got a lot out of the exhibition.  Most importantly, we learned about our team and what we need to do to get better. Our Israel Connect program starts tomorrow with a trip to Tel Aviv.  Of course, that will only be after we get our 6:30 AM practice in. 

In hoops,

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 3 of practice

After a solid morning of practice, we boarded the bus again.  Along with our two women's teams, we visited the ISDC (Israeli Sport for the Disabled Center). Our athletes toured the facilities, met with athletes who train at the center, and even played some hoops (see below).   

Our players brought gifts from the US for the children who train at the center as well. The experience certainly gave perspective to our athletes. What a great afternoon!  We then left for a

focused afternoon of practice. We are looking forward to our first exhibition tomorrow. 

In hoops,

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Practice day 2

Talk in the morning was about "winning the day."  Without any games to play, that might seem like a strange challenge but our program certainly "won the day" of practice. With another double session, we got better with each segment and are starting to see roles and leadership take shape. 

We enjoyed another beautiful day at Kfar and of course took full advantage of the food offered! We are looking forward to tomorrow's practices and trip to the  Israel Sport Center for The Disabled. There will be no doubt that the experience will be tremendous. 

Win the day,

Monday, July 8, 2013

Practice Day 1.

We hit the ground running today with a double session of practice.  5 AM wake-up calls came quick!

Solid work today by our guys. Early morning practice in Ramat Gan followed by breakfast back at Kfar Maccabiah. After breakfast many of our players hit the weights and the outdoor courts to do some shooting. Many spent time at the pool as well. Some took quick naps as well after lunch. 

Our second practice of the day was in the same location, Armonim, a school in Ramat Gan where the people have been absolutely wonderful to us.  Already we have had professional coaches, teachers, and children drop by to watch our guys practice.   Looking forward to day 2 tomorrow after some team bonding around the piano this evening. 

In hoops,

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kfar Maccabiah

After a lengthy day of travel, I am happy to report that we are all settled and comfortable at the Kfar Maccabiah resort. Now it's time to get some rest as we have the first of two-a-days starting tomorrow at 7am. 
Can't wait to get in the gym!
- jamie