Missouri State Lady Bear senior Casey Garrison is currently touring China with a United States All-Star basketball team. Casey will be checking in periodically with MissouriStateBears.com with updates on her trip.
Photo Gallery of Casey's Trip
Day 12 (May 7, 3:00 a.m. in Springfield / May 7, 4:00 p.m. in China)
Today is our last day in China! We already did our last minute shopping and now we are back at the hotel trading clothes with each other and the other teams. I can't believe how fast this trip has gone. It seems like the time flew by, but it has been a long trip as well. Everyone is ready to go home, be in America, and see our families. We repeatedly get stuck on the topic of what food we are going to eat when we get back to the states. I am really glad that I got to experience China and their culture, as well as playing basketball internationally. These girls have been a lot of fun to interact with and play with. I have created some friendships that I feel will last for a long time. These memories are going to be things I can share with my family, friends, and others. I am very blessed to have had this opportunity.
Well, the plan is after our game tonight against China we are headed back to the hotel to shower and finish packing. Then, we are headed out to the airport and staying there until our flight at 7am. We will fly to Beijing, and then head out to San Francisco at noon (11pm Central Time). The flight is 11hours and 30 minutes but again, I am very excited to be coming home!
Yesterday's game: We played a very good game against New Zealand and the final score ended up 84-36. That was technically the last game of the tournament and we finished the tournament 7-1. Like I said before, this group has been a lot of fun to play with and a great experience. We play very well as a team and share the ball extremely well. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to play with these girls and be around these two coaches. Chris and Ryan have been great through the whole trip and I couldn't have asked for better.
Thank you all very much for following along on my blog. I hope you found the blog exciting and really grasped my experiences here in China. Since we leave right after the game I will not have the score of the China game. You can follow the scores of the games and read other blogs at http://netscoutsbasketball.com/category/blog/.
Again, thank you all very much for reading the blog and I'll see you when I get back to Springfield! :)
Day 11 (May 6, 3:00 a.m. in Springfield / May 6, 4:00 p.m. in China)
Good afternoon from China! We arrived back from our community event around 12 pm today, and I just finished some homework so I thought I’d start early on my blog for the day.
Our community event was pretty exciting. We arrived at the arena around 9:30 am and were seated, outside, where there was a stage set up and young girls dancing to a routine. The music they had playing was American music. I thought it was funny that the China team was singing along to the American songs, but when the Chinese songs came on, they were all quiet. There were some people who gave speeches to all of the teams and the community and then each team had to stand up on stage to receive a gift from this city. The gift was different flavored turnips, not our favorite, but it was in a really cool box. I’m sure my mother will love the vegetables that I got and I’ll just keep the box. We also had to have one person speak to the community and say thank you for their hospitality and for our time here. The person we chose to speak was Jalana Childs. She is very funny and the people love her so we knew she would be perfect for the position. There was a translator who would say everything Jalana said in Chinese, which was a different experience for us.
After we received our gifts, we went and played basketball against a China boy team. I am not sure exactly what age they were, but they looked about the same age as us. It was a lot like the three-on-three community event we did, except this was full-court, five-on-five. One of the Chinese men told me I was beautiful (in English), and one of the New Zealand coaches, Brent (he’s very funny and hangs out with us a lot), then pointed to Kali and said, “Do you think she is beautiful?” And the boy nodded. Afterwards, Kali got his email and took a picture with him. It was pretty funny. He was the cutest of all the other Chinese, but my mom told me to bring home Jeremy Lin, so sorry mom, he wasn’t anything like him. The game was a lot of fun and we had a lot of laughs and giggles.
Next, we went to the countryside and ate some Chinese cuisine. We were all very nervous to see what the food was going to be like. I attached a picture of what found on the plate full of chicken. It is very interesting. The food was actually decent. We had noodles, rice, kidney (yes, it was good), chicken, something that tasted like canadian bacon, greens, miso soup, and some hot tea. I had never tried hot tea until I came to China, and the one we tried at this place was very good. Overall, the community event was a lot of fun. We headed back to the hotel and relaxed the rest of the day until our game. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.
Oh! I almost forgot to tell you all about our new translator, Dori. Dori is 22 years old, studying English at a local college and is very sweet. Her English isn’t as good as Fanny’s and she kind of talks robotic, but she does the best she can. At first, she was very strict to let us leave the hotel to shop because her bosses have really pushed them to keep an eye on us, but with Fanny we had a lot more freedom. She is getting a lot better though, but we all miss Fanny.
Day 10 (May 5, 12:55 p.m. in Springfield / May 6, 1:55 a.m. in China)
We got to see a lot of the city today. This place is by far, the nicest we have been to. Not only do we have the American food places, we also saw a Wal-Mart Supercenter. We haven't been there yet, but are very excited to see what it is like. We were able to do a lot of shopping today, which is definitely what we look forward to doing. We were able to bargain at some shops, AND we bargained on our own without our translator. Some of the people here are able to understand some English, so it is nice to be able to work with them on some prices.
Our arena is the nicest one we have played in yet. Apparently, it is brand new and our tournament is a big deal in this area. We are happy that this place is our last city and we are able to enjoy the area and actually feel somewhat at home. Today, we ate McDonald's and it was absolutely amazing. It was great to actually have American food. There wasn't a lot of variety between the food but most of us got Big Macs and chicken nuggets. Sadly, there was not any sweet tea. The food was still delicious.
Tonight, we played the Aussies for the final time. They definitely brought their best game tonight, and we were mediocre. We were playing hard, but we didn't shoot the ball well and were a bit out of sync on both ends of the floor. We still ended up winning, I don't remember the exact score but we won by about 20 some. Tomorrow we have a long day ahead of us and I'm sure I will have plenty of things to talk about and pictures to show you all.
Days 8 and 9 (May 3, 8:20 p.m. in Springfield / May 4, 9:20 a.m. in China)
Yesterday, May 2, we played China in our second game here in Zhongxian. We played very well and led the whole game. We eventually won the game 64-43. We came out ready to play mentally and physically. We will not play that same China team again because they are sending their "B" team for the next city. We are glad that we got the win against the China "A" team and glad we played well on both ends of the floor.
May 3: Tonight we played Australia. Australia has a point guard named Tianna who is a VERY good passer. I believe I mentioned this before but she is going to be a great player for the Australian team. We asked her if she wanted to go to college in the US to play, she's only 16, and she said no because a degree in Australia doesn't mean anything. She will play internationally for the Australian team until she retires from playing basketball. We were off to a quick start again in this game. In the first half, we weren't as aggressive and didn't make the hustle plays. In the second half, we came out and extended the lead to 30 pretty quickly. We ended up winning 90-58, I believe.
One of the girls on our team, Katie Bussey, her birthday was today. It was fitting because she scored 23 points in the win. Afterwards, we all celebrated. Fanny, our translator, wanted to throw a surprise party, so we all hid in Katie and Jalana Childs (Kansas State) room and when she came in we all yelled surprise. Fanny had printed out pictures of Katie, we all wrote on a homemade birthday card, and Fanny got Katie a cake. It was a lot of fun.
Tomorrow we are off to our next city. Apparently, in this next city we will have a McDonalds, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, and a KFC. I am hoping the McDonald's has sweet tea and that it is the same in America, because I need my sweet tea. The hotel is supposed to be the nicest one we have been to and the shopping is supposed to be very good. We will travel about three hours to the airport and then take a plane to our next city.
Only three games left in China and we are 5-1. This team is on a mission to finish 8-1 and then get ready to come back to the states! Wish us luck and keep us in your prayers!
Days 6 and 7 (May 1, 12:15 p.m. in Springfield / May 2, 1:15 a.m. in China)
Hello all! Yesterday was a travel day for us, so I figured I would just carry it over into today's blog. Yesterday we left Fuling and headed to Zhongxiang, which is a district in the city of Chongqing. The city, Chongqing has about 20 million people but they are divided into districts and provinces. It took us three hours to get from Fuling to Zhongxiang, so you can see it is a huge city. When we got to Zhongxiang, we were able to find a supermarket and find some American food.
Our hotel is not as nice as the last one but it isn't too bad. Some of the girls have had problems with their rooms but Rachael and I have been fortunate to not have any of those problems. The view from our hotel is pretty nice though. In one of the pictures I took from a window on our floor, it shows a lot of the city. You can see our arena. It's a pretty nice place to play. I wanted to post the pictures, but the internet connection was too slow.
The food is a lot like the last place, except we are finding a few more things that our taste buds enjoy. They have rolls of bread that are sweet that we eat all the time. They also had fried chicken legs once, we were all very excited. The drinks here are a bit better, as well. They have water, Coke, Sprite, and Sunny D.
Game Day #4 vs New Zealand: We have a whole new set of officials and they are the complete opposite from the last ones. They call every little foul. Hopefully, tomorrow vs. China they do the same. The smoking was a lot worse in this gym than the last one. We were all struggling to breathe, but eventually towards the end, when people left, it got better. We had a very strong night by everyone tonight. We shot 52% from the floor and won 83-36. We had 21 steals and forced 25 turnovers. I had 7 points on 3-5 shooting but not 100% sure on all the other stats. We have a VERY big game tomorrow against China and we are more than ready to have another shot at them. Wish us luck and keep us in your prayers!
Day 5 (April 29, 12:30 p.m. in Springfield / April 30, 1:30 a.m. in China)
Game Day #3 vs China: This game was definitely a battle. As I told you all before, China gets a lot of calls and the USA gets ZERO. Sound familiar? We got a few calls here, but for the most part they let us play. There were several questionable calls. Anyway, the final score was 60-58 China. We lost by 2. We were up 1 with 30 seconds left and the Chinese put up a shot, missed, got the offensive rebound and made the basket and got fouled. The girl made the free throw to put them up two.
We had 8 seconds to get a shot off. Rachael inbounded the ball to me and I found Talisa, from Seattle, and she went up for the shot, missed and we tried to get the offensive rebound but the Chinese got it and the game was over. Again, we didn't shoot the ball well tonight. We are struggling a little bit but our transition game is pretty good, so if we can run we'll be alright. We have a lot more depth than the other teams. We play everyone an equal amount of minutes, where as some teams only have an eight man rotation, if that.
Tomorrow we head out to another district. We are still in the city of Chongqing, though. Chongqing has about 20 million people but they are divided into districts so we head out to another district, three hours away. We will play the same teams in the other district that we played here. Tomorrow is our off day so we are able to recover from three games in three days and be ready to go by Tuesday.
On a side note, people are smoking everywhere. People smoke in our hotel and in the basketball gym while we are playing. There were a couple of times that I had to grab my towel and take a few deep breaths because the smoke was so bad.
P.S. One exciting thing is we were able to find the Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on a Chinese channel today. It was all in Chinese but it was nice to recognize something on the TV. You never really know how good we have it in America until you go to these other countries.
OH! And today is the day of the Lady Bear banquet, which I believe is going on right now. I miss all of my teammates and coaches and wish you all the best. I hope to see you all when I get back. I can't thank my teammates, coaches, and the university enough for giving me the opportunity to be a Lady Bear. I enjoyed every year and wouldn't take any of it back. I love you all and wish you the best in whatever you choose to do in life! I know you will all be successful!
Day 4 (April 28, 12:35 p.m. in Springfield / April 29, 1:35 a.m. in China)
Today was not much different from yesterday, except we went and explored the city with our translator Fanny. I posted a picture of Fanny with us girls, for all of you. We were swarmed and stared at when we were walking around the city. Many people were asking to take pictures with us and to have autographs. A lot of the Chinese have never seen or been around Americans before so they are very interested in talking with us.
We experienced our first major culture shock today. Apparently, in this area, it is acceptable for young children and infants to go to the bathroom in public. A little boy was running around, with his pants down, while his mother was nearby and began to urinate on the street. Secondly, an infant was sitting on his mother's lap and began to urinate on the floor in the underground market we were at. We immediately asked Fanny if we could leave. From then on, we were not sure what exactly we were walking on.
The bathrooms in China are also very different. I posted a picture for you all to see but it is basically a hole in the ground. You need to squat to use the restroom, and there is no toilet paper. In our hotel, there is toilet paper but everywhere else you go, you need to bring your own roll. Luckily, I brought three rolls with me thanks to Caroline Carine.
The food was about the same today, nothing too different and I didn't try anything new today, but it keeps getting better and better. I believe I am getting more accustomed to the food.
Game Day #2 vs New Zealand: We struggled in the first half with just about everything; shooting, rebounding, you name it. We were up 29-28 at halftime and we were playing bad. We came out in the third quarter and started getting some offensive rebounds and easy putbacks. We shot the ball better but not great. We were able to force some turnovers and get some easy baskets in transition. Eventually, the lead grew to 15 and we never looked back. The final score was 73-42. We held them to 14 second-half points and we outrebounded them 42-20.
Again, I didn't shoot the ball well and I'm not 100% on the stats but all I know is I had five points. This team is very balanced and we are coming together more and more every game. I think we are probably a lot of fun to watch, too. Well, our last game from this city is tomorrow against China. We have to be mentally and physically prepared because this is a HUGE game for them. Wish us luck!
Day 3 (April 27, 10:50 a.m. in Springfield / April 27, 11:50 p.m. in China)
It's GAME DAY here in China! Woke up this morning at 7:25 for a shoot around at 8. At the shoot around we reviewed our plays and defense to make sure we are all on the same page. After the shoot around we went to breakfast, which is the same every day. We eat a lot of watermelon, pineapple, bananas, and apples. We drink plenty of water, too. At 12, we had a banquet in the hotel where we were welcomed by the General Manager of the hotel. We also met all the other teams. We learned that the Austrailian 21U team is made up mostly of 16 and 17 year old girls. The majority of them are very tall, but you can see that they are young. Apparently, New Zealand is the same way. The Chinese are very big but I believe they are about the same age, if not older, than we are. After the banquet, we had a lot of down time until our game at 7:30 pm. We left the hotel at 6:15, to walk to the gym that is right across the street.
After the game we went to dinner and I was being a BRAVE Lady Bear and I ate "Red Wine Ox Tongue". It actually didn't taste too bad, but that is the only thing I have really tried. There was something called "Goose Bowel" but the sound of it made me walk away, as I assume most of you would too.
About the rules of the game: I figured before I talk about the game I would let you know how the games go. There are four 10-minute quarters. There is a 24 second shot clock, 8 second back court violation, and a 5 second live/dead ball count. The coach is the only one that can call a time-out, but he has to call it to the scorer's table. On free throws, there can only be two people on one side and three on the other.
Game #1: Tonight we played the Australian 21U team. Now it says they are 21 and under but like I said earlier, most are 16 and 17 year old girls. I am proud to say that the Americans won the first game 77-47. We played pretty well, even though we didn't shoot the ball well. We shot 39% from the field, but we forced 28 turnovers and had 25 steals as a group. I'm sure you are all curious how I did. Well, I didn't shoot the ball well, but went 1-8 from the field, 2-2 from the free-throw line, 4 rebounds(all offensive), 2 assists, 3 steals, and 1 turnover in 15 minutes of play. It is quite nice to not have to play 35 minutes a game and to still contribute. We have a five man rotation because we have ten players total. It was a lot of fun to play with these girls who are all very talented. The officiating is a bit different here. They let you play through a lot, very aggressive. There are not many jump balls called because you have to be holding onto the ball for about four seconds before they call it, it's crazy. Also, some of the fouls they call are VERY questionable but US Lady Bear fans know how that is :). Apparently, when we play China the calls are ridiculous. Anyway, I look forward to our game tomorrow against New Zealand, who are very similar to Australia. We were successful in our first game together and I am excited to see how we grow as a team these next few days.
Day 2 (April 26, 5:00 a.m. in Springfield / April 26, 6:00 p.m. in China)
Hello all! Today was a very productive day for the USA women's team. We woke up this morning around 9 to have breakfast. We weren't exactly sure what to expect. They served noodles, rice, some weird soup, some fruit, desserts, and some things I have never seen before in my life. The noodles were very good, but I wasn't expecting to eat them at 9 in the morning. The drinks they served were hot tea, warm milk, and mango juice.
Later on, around 11, we had a team meeting to discuss what our plans were for the next few days and about our game tomorrow. Then, we ate lunch. We assumed lunch would be somewhat like breakfast, which it was for the most part. When they serve fish here, it looks like the fish still. It has the eye balls and the bones and all of that great stuff still there. No, I didn't even touch it but Rachael tried some and said it tasted like fish and then swallowed a bone. I would have to say the food is quite interesting.
Then, we went to practice from 2-4 to try to get a feel for each other and learn a few plays for tomorrow's game. Most of you who know me know I am somewhat lazy when it comes to the "working out on my own" part. Well, I'm very happy to inform you that I was in pretty good shape, and I feel the best I have felt in quite some time. When practice was over, we had to run back to the hotel quickly and get ready to head to these outdoor basketball courts to play some three on three against the Chinese citizens. We had a blast and saw some really cute kids who came up to us asking for autographs and pictures.
I am rooming with Rachael Hackbarth from Drake, and she brought an English-Chinese translator so the only thing we have figured out how to say in Chinese is thank you and hello. We are still working on the rest of it. Now, it is about 6 pm here and we have dinner from 6-8:30, whenever we please to go. We have the rest of the day to relax or go and see the city.
We play tomorrow at 7:00pm against the Australian 21U team so while you all are sleeping, we will be winning a basketball game! There is a website you can go to to see footage of the games but our coaches haven't emailed us the website yet. I look forward to tell you how our first game together turns out! Wish us luck!
Day 1 (April 25, 12:50 p.m. in Springfield / April 26, 1:50 a.m. in China)
WOW! Just now getting into our hotel in Chongqing and it is 1:50am. We left San Francisco at 12:10pm, flew for 12 hours, had about a two hour break, flew another 2 hours, and then had an hour and a half bus ride to get here. Talk about a trip! We haven't sleep in over 24 hours. Our hotel is pretty nice but our WiFi connection isn't very good.
Tomorrow we are sleeping in, getting breakfast when we please, and then we have a meeting and a short practice just to get acquainted with each other on the floor. We also have an autograph session scheduled for sometime shortly after practice and then we have the rest of the day to see the city. I will let you know how tomorrow goes but very blessed to be in this hotel safe and sound. :)