University of Iowa men’s basketball junior Aaron White is representing the United States at the 2013 World University Games (WUG). White is the first Hawkeye since Greg Brunner in 2005 to make a World University Games roster.
White and Team USA are in Kazan, Russia, and will compete for a gold medal, July 7-16. While in Russia, White will be sharing his experiences for Hawkeye fans through blog posts. Check back to hawkeyesports.com and @IowaHoops during the next two weeks to see what White and Team USA are up to behind the scenes.
Most recent blogs
Wednesday, July 3
Hello all. While I’m on this trip to Russia for the WUG’s I was asked if I could keep a blog to try and keep all you Hawkeye fans up to date and hear what the experience is like for me.
First, I’d like to thank everybody for the support that I have received since being selected for Team USA. It’s a great honor to represent our country and my school.
After 10 straight days of “two-a-days” in Colorado Springs, we departed the Olympic Training Center on Monday July 1, at 10 a.m. and drove to the Denver airport. From Denver we had a bumpy four-hour flight to Washington, D.C. After a four-hour layover, we boarded an 11:30 p.m. flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Can’t exactly say that was a good time. They had me cramped in row 39, the second-to-last seat.
We arrived in Istanbul on at 4:30 p.m. local time. We then had another long layover (five hours) before our flight to Kazan. We landed in Kazan around 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday; don’t ask me how, but somehow I totally missed out on Tuesday… haha.
Anyways, it turned out that wasn’t the end of our travel. We still had to go through customs, catch a bus to Olympic Village and go through security to get into the Village. By the time all was all said and done, my feet were hanging off my too small twin bed at about 7:30 a.m.
I was able to take a four-hour nap, ate, and then headed right to the gym for our first practice in Russia. This whole event is a lot more official and big time then I thought when I first got invited to the try out. Kazan has put a lot of money into hosting this event. It’s is basically a “baby Olympics.”
The village that we’re staying in consists of about 30 apartment buildings for all the teams and athletes, a huge cafeteria including food from all over the world. I believe we, as the USA, are represented by McDonald’s in here (haha no joke there is a McDonald’s). Along with that, there is a supermarket, movie cinema, lounges, stores and much much more that I haven’t even seen yet!
I’m back in the room after practice. It’s been a long week already for all of us, but I believe we have the right mindset in why we are here… and that is to win a GOLD MEDAL! I hope to write on this blog often while I am here. Hope you guys enjoy. Go Hawks!!
Thursday, July 4
Happy July 4th to everybody back home from Russia.
It was pretty cool that this morning the day started with the raising of the US flag in “flag alley.” Basically in the center of the village there are flags representing every country here at the games. We learned yesterday that there are 110 countries represented and over 10,000 athletes total. It’s wild that so many people have come together and are all staying in the same village.
Today is the first day we played; we had a practice this morning then played a Russian professional team tonight for an exhibition game. We started off a little slow, but ended up winning by 30+. I had 11 points (3-3 FG, 4-4 FT) and 4 boards in 15 minutes. I’m sure full stats are on USA basketball’s website.
The arena is pretty sweet. It probably seats around 8,000. Before the game there was a pretty big ceremony in which none of us had any clue what they were saying (haha). Eventually the two teams exchanged gifts and got the game started.
The international game is slightly different than in the United States, so it took some getting used to. The biggest thing for me was the traveling. Overseas, they are very strict on bouncing the ball before any movement with a pivot foot. We had 6-7 turnovers on that call alone! Other than that, the guys have been great and we have an excellent coaching staff. It’s really an honor to be over here growing as a player and having this opportunity.
We have another scrimmage tomorrow against the Russian National Team, then the actual games begin on Sunday. I probably won’t blog again until after our first real game on Sunday.
If you have any questions or something you’d like me to talk about while I’m over here please let me know any way possible. Either send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can tweet me @Aaron_White30. I appreciate all you guys and hope you had a good 4th of July!
Sunday, July 7
It’s been two days since I’ve blogged and I did have a couple of questions in terms of what people wanted to know so I’ll address the main one.
The question was in regards to jet lag and how it’s affecting me. I was actually going to bring it up anyways because it’s the hardest part about being over here. With the nine-hour difference from central time, my internal clock is all messed up. I’ll stay up late until like 2-3 a.m. and wake up around 9 a.m. Then I’ll need a nap during the day. It’s affecting all of us, but it’s not too bad. We just have to make sure we have enough rest between games, because it started today. We have eight games in the next 10 days.
Yesterday was a day off for us. We did have practice in the morning and then the Opening Ceremonies were in the evening. The ceremonies were one of the best experiences I’ve ever been a part of in my life. We waited in line for about three hours until it was our turn to walk around the track, but when our name was called it was NUTS. The arena is actually holding the 2018 World Cup, so it was full of 50,000 screaming fans. I have pictures and videos on my phone but I believe you can also see it online.
Today was our first game against United Arab Emirates. As most probably know we won 140-46. In a setting like this, tie breakers are determined by margin of victory. So back home, that score would look like an embarrassment, but here we had to take care of business while also not showing up our opponent. Stats are on USA’s website but I had a good game with 16 points and four rebounds.
We get right back at it with a game tomorrow versus the Czech Republic.
I appreciate all of you guys keeping up with me whether it’s on this blog, on twitter or watching these games online or tape delayed on ESPNU.
One down and seven more to go until that GOLD medal!!!!!
Monday, July 8
Not much to report today.
We played the Czech Republic early today and won, 96-53. I had an off game and was in foul trouble with two quick fouls in the first two minutes that I was in the game (Fran would have been livid at the calls haha).
I sat the rest of the half and never found my rhythm. I finished with two points and three boards on 1-4 shooting.
We have tonight off and tomorrow we don’t play. I believe as a team we are going to go watch the women’s team play and support them tonight. Tomorrow we are touring the Kremlin. From my understanding there are five of them in Russia — it’s basically a historically government building.
Tomorrow evening we will have a practice to tighten up some things on offense and learn from our mistakes from the first two games. Should be a good day!
We’ve got two out of the way… six more for that gold. Talk to y’all Wednesday after we play Sweden!
Thursday, July 11
Sorry for the lack of posts, but it’s been hectic with games and being so busy.
We beat Sweden by 18 yesterday. They gave us a good game in the first half then we were able to pull away in the second half. From a personal standpoint, I didn’t think it was possible for me to play worse than what I did in the Czech game, but sometimes we surprise ourselves. I went 0-3 from distance and scored zero points and got three boards and two assists — I just never really got in a rhythm. I was too content with standing outside the arc instead of bringing energy and playing my usual game.
It’s a totally different mindset for me since I’m only playing 10-15 minutes coming off the bench. I continue to try and learn though and will strive to do better and help the team.
Tonight we played Australia and lost our first game of the trip. We were up 10 late in the third quarter and up five heading to the 4th period, but we lost our composure and lost by nine. Individually, I didn’t play much, but when I was in I played solid D and scored six points. This loss really hurts because the top two seeds from each pool advance to the medal round.
It’s really hard for me watching our team lose and not having as big of an impact as I would in an Iowa uniform. I’m learning though, and it’s helping me be a better leader seeing how every player on a team goes through different situations. Everyone must come together as one collectively. I feel as if I have learned valuable things on this trip that will help our Hawkeye team and me be more successful this upcoming season.
So… we must beat Canada tomorrow by a certain amount of points (sorry I don’t know yet) to advance. This is the first time this team is facing adversity, but I am confident we will overcome it. It’s a quick turnaround, we finished our game tonight at 8:30 p.m. and we play Canada at 1 p.m.. I will keep the blog updated and we’ll see where this tournament takes us.
Friday, July 12
Well, there’s a reason I waited so long to write on this blog. Obviously as many know, we lost to Canada today, which knocked us out of our medal hopes.
It’s now 1 a.m. and I’ve had a lot of thoughts run in and out of my head. Some positive, but most negative. Obviously, none of us planned on coming here and playing in a bracket to only get 9th place, which is what’s in front of us now. And obviously, I hoped to play more minutes and impact the team more than I have thus far. All that being said, I worked extremely hard to make this team and have invested a huge chunk of my summer to USA basketball.
After the game, coach McKillop spoke to us about how we’ve invested time and from every investment you gain something. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I can definitely gain valuable knowledge from a trip like this. Adversity is a great teacher, but difficult to go through. As I’ve said before, this trip will make me a better basketball player in my final two years at Iowa.
We have tomorrow off then we play Sunday. The challenge, now, is to stay positive and still compete hard. I know I will — I’ll take all the minutes I can get. I was hoping, as many of you probably were hoping, that this blog would be a little more fun (haha), but these are the cards I’ve been dealt. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I’m going to make the best of it.
I’ll write one more time over the next 3/4 days before we head back home. Keep up-to-date with our scores via USA Basketball’s website.
Tuesday, July 16
This is our final day in Russia. To fill you in on the last couple days… we played Norway and won by 40. Then we played Germany and won by 25 or so. Finally, today we played Finland and won by 30 to finish in 9th place.
I had 11/7 versus Norway, 2/1 against Germany and 12/10 today versus Finland. I’m pretty disappointed that our final games weren’t on TV for the only reason that I wish people could have seen the way we played the last three games versus the first five. We were a totally different team. We shared the ball, talked more effectively on defense, pressured teams and got after the glass. We also used all 12 guys to speed up the game and all seven bench players did their thing in the final three contests.
I truly believe if we were to start over again, we wouldn’t of slipped against those teams. No excuses though, it was good to see a group of guys embrace what happened instead of mailing it in and giving up the last three games.
I’ve been away from home now for about 24 days so; you can best believe I’m ready to head back to America… it won’t be an easy journey back. We leave the village at 11 p.m. tonight. Our first flight is from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. – Kazan to Istanbul. We then have a seven-hour layover in Istanbul. Our nine-hour flight back to Washington D.C. arrives around 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Doug (McDermott) and I are flying to Chicago that night, staying the night in a hotel, then fly to our respective schools in the morning. The rest of the guys either stay in D.C. or have connecting flights to their schools.
I can’t thank USA Basketball enough for this opportunity. I went from being one of the last guys invited to the try out, to making the team and going to Russia. Also, I would like to thank the coaches and staff who sacrificed time with family and their schools to help us become better players. I’ve already touched on the things I’ve learned through this trip but it really does make me excited for the upcoming season.
I can’t wait to get back to Iowa City. It won’t be long before I turn back around and go overseas with our Iowa team though (haha). The game of basketball has been very good to me and I’m thankful for that!!
I appreciate you all keeping up with this blog and I hope you enjoyed. Hope to see everyone in Carver this winter for a great season!