I didn’t know what to expect when I came to America four years ago. Friends of mine, who went to college before, told me that if I would survive preseason, I basically made it.
Of course I assumed they were exaggerating. I went through multiple preseasons in Germany; I was convinced that I was more than prepared.
Well, I was wrong and it turns out my friends weren’t exaggerating.
Preseason in America is hard. There is no other way to describe it. You get pushed to your limits every single day, you will say the phrase ‘I don’t think I can do it’ at least once a week and you run more than you could ever possibly imagine. Yes it is tough, but eventually you get used to it and you take on the mindset that you can do whatever you set your mind to. That’s what college basketball teaches you — embracing the uncomfortable, even learning to like it.
Another major difference between America and Germany is the time you actually spend practicing. Before I came to Maine, I never had workouts longer than two hours. Usually we would have 1.5 hours of basketball practice and 30 minutes of lift. Later when I played with the first division team in Halle, we would have an hour shooting practice in the morning and a two-hour practice in the afternoon. When I told the people back home that on some days we would practice for four hours, they simply couldn’t believe it. But once again, it is something that you get used to.
Another difference can be found when looking at the attendance at games. Germany will get about 500 people to games, on a good day. That’s it. Now imagine my surprise when I came to Maine and I saw between 1,000 to 3,000 people at every single game. The whole atmosphere is so much different than it is in Germany. I think basketball in the States is so much more appreciated and people are way more into it. College basketball in America is a lifestyle that gets more and more followers.
There is also a difference in the season structure. In Germany we have a small regular season with 26 to 34 games, depending on how far you make it during playoffs.
Back home our longest away trip was eight hours. If the game was scheduled for 6 p.m., we would leave the same day early in the morning. Leaving a couple days in advance or even staying overnight was extremely rare in Germany.
Last but not least, let’s look at the style of play. One of the main differences I noticed when I came to Maine four years ago was how much stronger and faster everybody was. Back home I was one of the stronger people, but I wasn’t even close to fulfilling the expectations Maine had for me.
I think Europe in general is really focused on fundamentals and team-style basketball, two things that Coach Barron was extremely focused on as well. Based on that, I would say that the style we played here at UMaine could easily be compared to the European style.
All in all, I would say that the differences between Maine and Germany are not as big as I imagined, especially looking at the style of play. The biggest difference can definitely be found in preseason and the kind of physical conditioning you are expected to have as a college player.