"Basketball Master" Huh Jae (39, TG Sambo, photo) is in a leadership training program in the United States. He is physically overseas, but his heart is still at home.
Being an honorary coach at Pepperdine University in California, he is preoccupied with watching the training sessions and games as the NCAA Basketball season officially opened this week.
And yet, he is even busier calling his friends in Korea every chance he gets to ask for news about his home team, TG. Last weekend, when TG lost three straight games after a winning streak of seven games, he called team owner Choi Hyung-gil and director Jeon Chang-jin on their cell phones to express concern and offer advice.
"I was so anxious, I couldn`t help it. I have the time difference figured out, and I have the entire schedule memorized by heart."
Huh Jae, who flew to the United States in July, noted how he was impressed by how well the players` at Pepperdine were trained with the basics and how they were as serious during training as they were for the real games. "When I was at Chung-Ang University, I used to be slightly passive during practice games so that I wouldnt injure myself. But these guys don`t seem to spare anything."
The broad scope of members and their center-led strategy with a higher chance of scoring compared to a shooter-centered scheme were also new.
Huh is also interested in the news about Ha Seung-jin and Bang Sung-yoon, who are playing in the U.S. "I sometimes wonder how it would be like if I had a chance to play abroad. They have some role to play as they are the first case. Their success will encourage younger players to take on the challenge, and the Korean league will also benefit hugely from their experiences."
He is worried that his English is not improving as fast as he would like. The initial plan was to attend a language school within Pepperdine, but the schedule overlapped with the training schedules. So he plans to look for a tutor if there is nothing else.