Tyrel Reed's Postcard Diaries from Belgium

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011
The Fine Line Between Winning and Losing
After starting the season out with a record of 6-2, we have struggled these past few weeks and lost three straight games. Looking back at my time at Kansas, I don’t think I ever lost three straight games. That’s crazy! It just reminds me of how fortunate I was at Kansas to have such great coaches, teammates, and fans supporting me during my time in school.

Being a professional you begin to understand that losing is part of the game, but one you never want to get comfortable with. It seems that as good and satisfied as I may feel after getting a big win, the losses stick with me that much more. I hate having the feeling that someone or some team outplayed you on that particular occasion, but that’s competition. That’s what keeps you hungry and wanting to improve each and every day. I know that if we stick together as a team and rely on one another we can turn those losses around in a hurry.

Being around sports my whole life; I better understand how fine the line is between winning and losing. Changing just a few minor details, such as how to guard the pick and roll or by making an extra pass to get a teammate a wide-open shot, can really change the outcome. It’s not always about making shots or playing great defense because at the professional level those are expected of you.

So far my experience in Europe has had its ups and downs but it has been an awesome experience nonetheless. I would like to finish this entry by saying thank you to all of the amazing fans that have supported me on and off the court over the course of my time at Kansas and beyond. I am truly blessed and proud to call Kansas my home and look forward to seeing everyone when I’m back for the holidays doing book signings for my new book, Reed All About It. Please come out and say hello. It will be good to be home!God Bless!

Monday, Oct. 31, 2011
Lost in Translation
As I mentioned before, I am currently living in Verviers, Belgium a town of about 55,000 people. The main language spoken in this area is French, however I am located within an hour of both Germany and Holland so German and Dutch are also popular. Boy, I wish I took more foreign languages in high school now. Since I only speak English and a little Spanish it has definitely been a transition as far as language goes. Most of the guys on the team who are foreigners speak enough English, however, to allow all of us to communicate with them on the basketball court. Plus, once you play ball with guys enough in practice, you get a “sense” of what to do and where you should go. There’s a special look you can give a guy on the court that is universal and doesn’t need any words spoken.

As far as my French vocabulary, I can only say the basic hello, please, and thank you. I should have invested in Rosetta Stone before I left the states! The only time I have been frustrated with the language barrier has been when I try and pick up a package at the post office. There always seems to be a problem with the address or it getting hung up in customs and I can’t ever explain myself clearly.

As for grocery shopping, this has been a challenge at times as well. Generally, you can tell what a product might be by looking at its packaging, but you may not be able to find something specific within that product range. For example, looking at different cuts of beef is confusing; especially since they may call it by another name than we do in the States. Also, my wife has had trouble finding baking ingredients like pumpkin puree and wheat flour. She of course is a food connoisseur and has had withdrawals at not being able to bake exactly what she wants to all the time. Well, that gives you a little bit of the adjustments that we have had to make over here in Belgium, but hey, we’re getting by and it gets better with each day.

My next report will focus on the real reason I am over here–to play pro basketball!

Wednesday, Oc
t. 26, 2011
Adjusting to Life in Belgium

Life in Europe is definitely different than my life in Lawrence, Kansas. First off, I still find it hard to fathom that almost everything is closed on Sundays throughout Europe and all stores close by 8 PM daily. I guess I’m just spoiled in Lawrence to be able to stop at Wal-Mart or Target any time/day of the week and get what I need. However, one thing Lawrence lacks is a waffle stand on every corner. Let me tell you, they are fabulous! But let me get my mind off my stomach for a moment and tell you about life as a basketball player.

At least I am playing pro ball, unlike what the NBA players are going through back in the United States. I’ve tried to follow that a bit via the newspapers and TV, but it still looks like the same mess it was before I left. So at least I know I am playing ball over here.

Training camp is Monday through Saturday and consists of running, weightlifting, and practice. The first week we were on the track running each morning at 8. We started out running about 2 miles per day and after a few weeks we reached the 5 mile mark. Three times a week we would head to the weight room after conditioning and get a good lift in. Throughout all of this we practice from 10-12 and 4:30-6:30 each day. I guess you could kind of say it was like a 6-week Jayhawk boot camp!

Our first regular season game was October 8th. We have cut out some of the hard core conditioning, but I also know from my past experiences at KU that you need to be in top shape to perform. It’s like a car, gotta get it tuned up and ready to put into drive.

Monday, Oct. 24, 2011
Basketball After KU Begins
How do I write a basketball diary? They never taught me this while I was at Kansas! But my friends at Ascend Books proposed the opportunity for me to let KU fans know about what is going on in my life, and how different–and at times difficult—it is to take yourself to a new country, far away from your comfort zone, and play a game you love in front of fans that you have never played in front of in the past. It’s very different than playing on the road at say Mizzou or Oklahoma or Texas. At first I was skeptical, like any basketball player being asked to write outside of school, but after further examination I thought it would be a great way for people to get to know me, learn some things about European basketball, and also learn some of my random takes on various topics. Currently, I am playing for Voo Verviers-Pepinster in Belgium.

I was notified that I would be playing in Belgium on August 17th and left on a plane four days later. Upon arrival in Belgium with my wife, Jessica, we soon learned we were going to be challenged with some real interesting changes in our lives. When our plane landed we went straight from the airport to the team’s gym in Verviers. After a quick physical evaluation, I participated in practice that morning at 10. Can anyone say JETLAG! Try focusing on a basketball hoop and dribbling a ball when your legs are begging you to go to sleep and rest! That was my first real introduction into European basketball.

The rest of that week was a blur for me. Sleep…practice…eat…sleep…practice…eat…sleep and then start it over again. Kind of like a rat inside a maze. After the first week I had finally adjusted to the 7 hour time difference and was getting more comfortable in my new surroundings. Now it was time to get down to earning a living in a far off land. Stay tuned.

REED ALL ABOUT IT: DRIVEN TO BE A JAYHAWK is written by former Jayhawk Academic All-American guard Tyrel Reed. REED ALL ABOUT IT: DRIVEN TO BE A JAYHAWK, from Ascend Books of Overland Park, Kansas, is now available at most local book stores as well as select grocery stores and specialty retailers. This book is also available on all popular e-book platforms including iPad, Kindle and Nook.