In case you don’t follow my Twitter account, I tried out with the Springfield Armor yesterday to write a story for my local newspaper.
The competition was stiff. Some of you college basketball aficionados may remember Tiki Mayben, who was recruited heavily by Syracuse, began his collegiate career at UMass, and transferred to Binghamton before being kicked off the Binghamton team for drug charges. Others may remember Eugene Harvey, who scored 1,560 points for Seton Hall. Fourteen Division I players tried out and another, Daesung Lee, competed last year in South Korea’s top professional league.
And then there was me.
I tried to explain to Armor coach Bob MacKinnon that I only had a brief time slot for success.
“I need 25 minutes to get my body feeling loose, then I have a 10-minute window before fatigue sets in,” I told him.
“It looked more like a four-minute window to me,” he replied.
In reality, coach MacKinnon was being generous. We scrimmaged for five hours, and the first one started out well. I drilled my first shot, a three-pointer on the pick-and-pop, very Dirk Nowitzki of me. But then I turned the ball over twice in my next five touches, got cramps in both of my legs, drew the ire of my teammates, and could hear my team’s coach saying, “Why the hell did this guy pay $200 to try out?”
Thankfully, I didn’t actually pay the $200 tryout fee. My status as a reporter let me participate for free. But some did try out with no chance of making it. I spoke to one, Seth Martin, a 30-year old who played Division III junior college basketball ten years ago and visually reminded me of Rudy Ruettiger.
“Do you, um, really have hopes of making the team?” I asked him gently, not wanting to crush his feelings if he really did harbor (insane) optimism.
“Yeah, you never know what can happen,” he told me. “I tried out last year for coach Dee Brown, and our team just didn’t have much chemistry, so I didn’t play great. Thought I would come back. So much of basketball is about chemistry.”
Yes, but basketball is also about standing tall, jumping high, dribbling well, shooting with accuracy, moving laterally with ease and knowing the proper way to roll after setting a screen, I wanted to tell him. And none of those descriptions applied to Seth.
They didn’t apply to me, either. At least not yesterday. But they did apply to some players, all looking to get a shot with the Armor.
To read my full story on the tryouts, click here.