Coach Klop Writes From China

Indiana assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg is the son of a former NBA coach, Bob Kloppenburg, who also spent many years coaching and training coaches internationally. His son, entering his fourth year with the Fever where he shares college scouting responsibility with Kelly Krauskopf and Lin Dunn, has followed in his father’s footsteps internationally. This week, he writes from China!

January 18, 2011

Hey again, Fever fans! “Niehou” from China. That’s “hello” in Chinese. It is one of the five Chinese phrases I now know!

We’re on the last leg of our tour. We played the Chinese national team a few nights ago and somehow came out with a win in spite of some serious Chinese “home cooking!” The refs definitely wanted to keep it interesting, much to the chagrin of our guys who would drive, get hammered and get a “no call” while, at the other end, the phantom calls began to pile up. Luckily, we built a lead big enough to withstand what one old coach describes as the Chinese “3-2-3” zone – five players and three officials! I guess it comes with the territory because beating the USA at any level is like winning the NBA championship.

We’re in Tiandeng in Guangxi Province, a rural region bordering Vietnam. It is a fascinating place with a dream-like landscape of towering limestone obelist-type mountains rising straight up from the valleys, two to three thousand feet. It could seriously be a movie set in “Lord of the Rings.” It is such a strikingly stunning landscape to see.

The place we were in for the few days of the last stop on the tour is Tiandeng, a small city of about 50,000. It is probably the Dresden, Tennessee of China! We are out in the country three hours from the nearest big city. A neat thing about China is that people can get their food fresh in the market every day for dirt cheap. All vegetables and fruit of the region picked that day can be bought in the local markets and shops on the street. That goes for the pork and chicken, too, two mainstays of the Chinese diet. They are hanging up in the shop, just ready to go home to the frying pan! Another cool aspect of the Chinese lifestyle is the increasing use of electric vehicles. In all the cities we have been in, you see thousands of electric bikes and scooters zipping around on the roads. They go about 20 miles and then just plug them in for a couple of hours, and they’re ready to go again! I can see that this will be the next wave of transportation in the USA, as soon as it catches on and the cheap Chinese e-bikes make it to the U.S. market en masse.

Well, I hope you Fever fans are doing well. I’ve been watching a lot of video of the college prospects coming out in the draft this year and I know we’re going to get a real blue-chipper that can help us this season. I’m excited about seeing some of them in person when I get back. I’ll check back in with you real soon again.

Zye Jien from China,


Jan. 11, 2011

Greetings from China again!

We have moved to the next city on the tour, Huizhou, China in Guangdong Province. It’s supposed to be tropical down here in South China, but a cold snap from Siberia sent some cool weather so its in the 50's here right now. It’s not exactly flip-flop weather to my liking and though it doesn't sound too cold, they don't heat the gyms so we definitely have to get warmed up good and keep moving! It makes for a good practice though, there is no down time as we’re always moving.

China is really an amazing place right now. Everywhere you look on the horizon, you see construction cranes and high rise buildings being built. A lot of them are housing and many are high-rise luxury condos so it is evident that China's economy is on a rapid rise. We met some furniture importers from North Carolina who told us that the majority of world furniture manufacturing is now done in China. Whereas, North Carolina was once the hub of furniture manufacturing, now U.S. retailers get their goods from China at a third of the cost.

Our tour team is doing well. We beat the Chinese under-20 national team at the buzzer, then beat club teams from New Zealand and Australia. We'll play another round of games in Huizhou this week then head back to the U.S. early next week. The Chinese team is one of best young teams in the world. They have three legit 7-footers and one 7'2" kid who has NBA potential. He is just 17, but has good skills and the body to get much stronger. The Chinese work extremely hard so no doubt we'll be seeing a few more guys head to the NBA in the next few years.

From Huizhou, China, hello to all the Fever fans! I'll check in with you all next week again!


January 6, 2011

I made it over to China, taking about 24 hours to get to Huiyong, Guangdong province where we play our first three games. After a 12-hour flight to Beijing, a three-hour flight to Ghuangzou and a three-hour bus ride to Huiyang, we made it. Our team consists of some guys with pro experience that are trying to get a chance to possibly get picked up and play over here this year. Majic Dorsey who played with Reno Bighorns (NBDL) last year, Isaiah Fox who played for Lute Olson at Arizona and Terence Green who played on a Sweet 16 team from Nevada-Reno are some of more notable players.

 I've been able to wedge a 12-day coaching trip to China in between an academy based in Eugene, Oregon and directed by Bruce O'Neill.  He has been working with the Chinese to improve their basketball for many years and is highly respected in the Chinese basketball community, arranging tours for American men and women's teams such as this one and consulting with the national basketball federation on the various ways to improve the game in China.

Before coming over, I was able to see Stanford and Xavier play just before the Cardinal upended UConn. I was impressed with them and thought they had a great chance at home for that upset. Stanford is a tough, fundamentally sound defensive team that also moves the ball well on offense without turning it over. Of course, Jen Pohlen is playing as well as anybody in the country right now and watch out for Nnemkadi Ogwumike coming out in the draft next year. She reminds me a lot of Sophia Young of San Antonio, but she may be a little taller with more inside game. Kayla Pederson is another no-frills, hardworking 3-4 at Stanford that I like. She's physical and rebounds and has some nice offensive skills.

I'll check back in a few days after a few games. We play the Chinese junior national team tomorrow and they are pretty good with three 7-footers. The game is televised all over China so I think probably a few hundred million Chinese will be watching. They absolutely love basketball over here. You guys probably can't tune it in at home, but I'll keep you posted!