Danielle's European Diary - Part 3

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Kansas State senior guard/forward Danielle Zanotti is keeping a diary during the women's basketball team's 10-day trip to Europe. The following entries include the previous two days and K-State's game against the U-20 Czech Republic national team.

Danielle’s Diary

Entry #5 June 28

 

Hello from Bratislava!

We won our second game!! It was a very tough, physical game but we really dug in at the end and hit some big time shots when it mattered the most. It’s a really good feeling going on such a big trip and winning...it really makes the trip a lot more fun! But let me rewind for a second and fill you in on the rest of our day before the game.

 

Kimberly Dietz and I got up early to pick up our rings that we had to get re-sized but on the way we encountered a little bit of drama. The jewelry store is right around the block from our hotel and across from one of the biggest Jewish synagogues in Prague. We came around the corner and ran right into a police blockade guarding the church and roping off the side streets. We had no idea what was going on but nothing was going to stop Dietz and I from getting our rings so we ran around the block and were able to get to the jewelry store that way. When we asked the store owner what was going on, she said that they had received a threat that someone had put a bomb in the synagogue and that this was a fairly regular occurrence. Needless to say Dietz and I paid for our rings and hightailed it out of there. Although it was a very odd (and scary) situation for us it was a reminder that religious violence is still prevalent all over the world.

 

Thankfully the rest of our afternoon was much less eventful and a whole lot more peaceful. We were all sad to say goodbye to Prague, but we were all looking forward to traveling to a different city and seeing more of the Czech countryside. As we got closer to Luhakovice, where we played, we got to drive through a forest and up into the hills where we got an amazing view of the village houses below. It really feels like an entirely different world over here. The architecture of the houses and the cobblestone streets make me feel like we’ve time warped to the 1800’s.

 

The game was so close the entire time. The style of play is really fast over here. Even on made baskets you can’t relax for a second because they inbound it so quickly and are looking to score in the first 10 seconds or so. I think that this experience of playing against different types of international players is really going to help us as we compete in the Big 12. The Czech players were excellent defenders so it gave us a great opportunity to work on our offensive execution in a competitive format. We were down with a few minutes left in the game but a lot of players really stepped up and made big shots and thankfully we were able to come away with the win. 2-0 in summer games, baby. We will take that for sure! After the game both teams got to eat sandwiches and fruit together outside the gym on their patio that overlooked the hills and forest that surround Luhakovice. It was a beautiful view and a great ending to a marvelous day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        

As I write this diary entry we are busing two more hours to Bratislava. As we’ve been driving we’ve passed a few castles that look straight out of a movie. I would have to say the scenery is a bit different than our own Kansas farmlands. Since this is a bit shorter entry and some of my teammates are in need of some entertainment as we drive I’ve decided to conduct my own little interviews so that you guys can get some good inside information about our trip from some of the other players. I’m no Oprah but hopefully you will enjoy some more stories of our adventure in Europe!!

 

First up my good friend Marlies....

Me: “ So Marlies, any funny stories about our time in Prague?”

Marlies: “First off I want to start by saying that you’re my favorite player on the team and could easily beat me in a game of one on one.” (Okay she didn’t really say that. That was me using my blogging powers for evil HAHA!)

Marlies (FOR REAL THIS TIME): “Well I definitely enjoyed a lot of Prague, but the funniest moment would have to go to the amazing and free bike ride Shana (Wheeler), Dani, and I were given by two Czech boys. Shana, Dani, and I had just got some tasty kabobs from a tent in Old Town and all of a sudden two boys came riding up on this bike like I’ve never seen before. It was a circular bike which seated six people and below each seat was a set of pedals for everyone. The bike had one wheel which was used to steer the bike by one of the boys. The boys told us they were headed to park their bike at their shop and then dinner and that we should hop on the bike and join them. We were headed back to our hotel so we told them we couldn’t go to dinner, but they insisted on giving us a ride. They said it was free so we couldn’t pass on the offer. Shana, Dani, and I hopped on and hung on for dear life and my kabob. While riding we talked to the boys and told them we played basketball and that we were from Kansas. After telling them that we were from Kansas one of the boys said, “Is it slow?” The three of us looked at each other and laughed and said yes. As we continued to zoom down the streets of Prague, Shana was a little worried about running into cars as we passed by them. She definitely had me laughing as she let out gasps. After an exhilarating ride, we got to their bike shop where they needed to park their bike. We thanked them for the ride and then took a picture with them. That bike ride will always be something the three of us will remember forever.”

 

That concludes the interview, as we have arrived in Bratislava. I’ll fill you in on what Bratislava has to offer in my next entry. Take care Wildcat fans!

 

Danielle

 

 

Danielle’s Diary

Entry #6 June 29

 

Hello Wildcat Fans!!

After a good night’s rest we began our only day in Slovakia. We took a bus tour around Bratislava and then got dropped off at Bratislava Castle. When you’re on the castle grounds you have a great view of the Danube River and in the distance you can even see Austria. It was an amazing view! We walked down through Old Town Bratislava and got to see St. Martin’s Cathedral where they used to hold their royal coronation ceremonies. Pope John Paul II visited there in 1995. We spent the rest of the afternoon just browsing in the shops and cafes.  I think that Shalin (Spani) and Kelsey Hill bought out the jewelry carts that the local merchants have set up in the street so hopefully their large families will be seeing some of those goodies!

 

In the late afternoon half of the team went to a Catholic Mass and the rest went back to the hotel to lounge around or nap. The Catholic Mass was in all Slovakian so I don’t think they understood much, but it was definitely a great experience for them. We all met up downtown for a nice dinner and ice cream. The Euro Cup 2008 is going on right now in Vienna, so while we were eating there were lots of people crowded around cheering for their favorite team. We wanted to appear like we knew what was going on but we didn’t know who was the local favorite so we just cheered for both teams whenever something good happened. After dinner we took cabs back to our hotel. Even though almost everything is different over here compared to America, one thing is definitely the same....the cab drivers. We drove like 90 miles an hour on these very, very tight roads and I was just waiting for some pedestrian to step out in front of us. Back in Manhattan we observe this little rule called pedestrians have the right away’ but I’m pretty sure that rule doesn’t translate the same in Slovakia.  I’m not known for my driving skills (hopefully none of you guys are part of the driving conspiracy I think is occurring in Manhattan to make sure I got honked at on a daily basis ;) ) but I look like a grandma compared to the drivers over here. Luckily, we all made it back safe and are going to call it a night pretty early because we leave for Vienna tomorrow.  

 

Here’s another Q&A with sharp shooting guard Kari Kincaid:

 

Me: “I hear that you met a new friend yesterday when we played the Czech under-20 team. Can you tell us a little more about that?”

 

Kari: “Shalee was talking to Eva, my new friend, and she discovered that Eva was a foreign exchange student at Chaparral High School. Chaparral High is outside the Wichita area like my hometown Andover. I was shocked! When I was in high school we frequently played Chaparral. So I asked her if she had ever heard of my high school, Andover Central. And without hesitation she replied YES! I couldn’t believe it! It ended up that she actually knew one of my close friends from Andover Central. We then exchanged names and are now Facebook friends. I spoke with her today on Facebook and she told me that she actually watched multiple Kansas State women’s basketball games on TV last year. She said she was really excited when she found out she would have a chance to play us this summer! What a small world, right?”

 

Until next time from Vienna Wildcat fans!

Danielle