Sunday, August 17, 2003

What should Rickert expect? 

Saint Paul of the Fraters Libertas dropped an email to me last night asking whether I would post more on the grind of European league basketball and hockey on players. I had a student a couple years ago, a hockey player who was undrafted from SCSU to the NHL (we've had thirty players taken in the last 16 years) and received an offer to play on a German professional team. An apartment and a car are included in the deal as standard, and there are tax advantages to boot. This student, who had graduated on time and played out his collegiate eligibility, returned from Europe a few months later. "It wasn't for me. There were some things promised that didn't come through, and the style of play didn't fit me." Given he was a relatively physical player and that the ices in Europe tend to be all large, Olympic size rinks (as is our on National Hockey Center), I suppose the latter explanation is not the real reason -- he had to know that was the way. And, as this article indicates, the style of play really isn't physical. It's a place to develop shooting and skating skills.

Basketball, the subject of Saint Paul's post on Rick Rickert, is another matter. We had a post player, Rado Rancik, who now plays in France (and last year's graduate Tina Schreiner is also schedule to play for Samur in France). It's a grinder's game in Europe (I am in eastern Europe or the former USSR about three-to-five weeks a year on average, and I watch it often when I'm over there), and international rules make you play a different game. It's very much a finesse and shooters league, skills I don't think Rickert needs to develop further; he's already a pretty good outside shooter. The middle will be clogged enough to hamper his post play. Rado, in contrast, is purely a face-up player (we would dread watching him attempt hook shots here) and scrappy. He's actually a rather ideal Euro player. Rado's brother Martin, who played at Iowa State, put himself in for the draft and was undrafted. He went to Italy to play, which along with France are higher-quality leagues than Rickert will find (though, as a league champion, they will be in a Champions league this year). Krka tried out former Gopher Dusty Rychart as well, but sent him on to Croatia where he was the teammate of former Ohio State standout Scoonie Penn last year.

So safe to say, Rickert will by playing with middling competition, not another American on the team, in a league that doesn't fare well in international competition. Atop that, travel and cultural adjustments are needed. And Mr. Rickert should also be prepared monetarily:

The standard is to get your first paycheck after the first month (not in advance) with your Club. You can send money over from Europe to any bank in the US. Credit cards are acceptable, as well as traveler checks. Always bring some extra money with you for emergencies.
Rick, nobody will carry your bags, either.