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Aggies Prepare For European Tour
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Daily Blog
Each day, Aggie players, coaches and basketball staff looked back on their experiences as they traveled through Italy and France. Their daily experiences are chronicled by below. The most recent updates are listed first.

Wednesday, Sept. 5
By Tyler Ott (F, 6-5, 185, Fr., St. George, Utah)
Today was our last travel day back to the States. We flew from Nice, France to Frankfurt, Germany, and then hopped on an 11-hour flight to San Francisco. As I was traveling I realized how much I appreciated the United States and how fortunate we are to live in this country. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that I had to go on this trip. It taught me a lot about different cultures, as well as gave me a head start going into the season. I would like to thank all those who made this trip possible and for all of the great memories and friendships that it produced. It truly was the time of my life and I enjoyed every second of it!

Wednesday, Sept. 5
By Justin Dueck (P, 6-8, 235, RFr., San Jose, Calif.)
Well our 10-day European tour came to an end today. We arrived in San Francisco at about 1 p.m. and were all excited to finally be back home. However, this trip was definitely an amazing experience and one that we will remember for the rest of our lives. We all made memories that will last a lifetime and are so grateful for the chance that we had to see other parts of the world.

There were a lot of moments that stood out this trip. One of my favorites was seeing the Colosseum and being inside such an incredible piece of history. Before leaving for the trip I watched the movie "Gladiator" to see where all that took. Another thing that we all liked seeing was The Vatican. Being inside the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica was definitely a highlight for many of us. Something that meant a lot to me was playing at the military base. To be on the base and play the military team there was such a great opportunity. After the base we headed up to Nice, France and spent our last three days there. Here we enjoyed the beach while playing two more games. This trip was such an amazing experience and I know I speak for all of us when I say, thank you for all of your support and we look forward to a great season ahead.

Tuesday, Sept. 4
By Ryan Sypkens (G, 6-4, 195, Jr., Elk Grove, Calif.)
Tuesday was the last day before we left back to the USA. We had a free day up until we left for our game so naturally I wanted to do something that I would remember. We went to the beach and just chilled for a while. Walking up I saw people parasailing and my teammate Tyler Ott and I decided that we were going to do it right then and there. We went down to the beach, paid, and did it. That was one of the coolest things I've ever done. We then went back to the hotel and rested up for the game. The game went very well and we won big. At that point we were all exhausted and ready to get back home. The 10 days in all were amazing and definitely one of the best experiences of my life.

Tuesday, Sept. 4
By Olivier-Paul Betu (G, 6-1, 175, Fr., (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Today was a very relaxing day all around. After coming from a victory against a talented team, our coaches decided to give us more freedom during the day to rest or relax on the beach. I personally rested my body for the game and received useful tips on how to improve my game and my confidence with this new system by my roommate Corey Hawkins. While he was helping me for the hardwood, I helped him improve his French. I taught him the basics such as "Bonjour, comment ca va?" and other words that he could use during conversations. When it was time to eat with the team, I was a translator to everyone and that was pretty cool because I was able to speak French with the people in Nice. I wish the guys kept some of what I taught them to use it one day in the future, perhaps in Nice again. This place was the best place to end our foreign trip. As Kanye West said "Excuse my French but I'm in France, I'm just saying." We made it!

Monday, Sept. 3
By Ryan Howley (G, 6-5, 195, Sr., Flagstaff, Ariz.)

Today started off promising as we headed on to the bus for Monaco (the richest and one of the smallest nations in the world). However, upon arriving, we were surprised to be stuck in the middle of a rainstorm which we were told by our guide doesn't happen too often in this area (it is sunny 320 days of the year). We toured the area and saw the Prince's Palace and where the Grand Prix took place and then headed back to Nice. Everyone was pretty tired so we either took naps or, in my case, went to the beach to hang out. After the pregame meal we headed to our game against Golfe Juan. We started off a little sluggish but quickly adjusted and started to play hard and together. We finished the game winning by nearly 40 points and everyone played pretty well. We have one more game tomorrow, so it would be nice to finish 4-1 before we head back to the states.

Sunday, Sept. 2
By Corey Hawkins (G, 6-3, 195, So., Goodyear, Ariz.)
Today has brought about our new destination in Europe, leaving Italy and traveling to Nice, France. The bus ride was not too bad. We were able to see a lot of scenic views and nice cars as we talked and laughed like we always do. When we finally got to Nice it was incredible to see how nice and upscale the area was. High-priced restaurants and shops, fast cars and beautiful people roamed the streets. I have the privilege of rooming with Olivier, our French translator, which makes it a lot easier to communicate. We walked the streets, the beach, and rode segways to explore the new town. It's a great place to end our amazing journey through Europe.

Saturday, Sept. 1
By J.T. Adenrele (F, 6-7, 225, So, Roseville, Calif.)
Our day started our pretty well as we had breakfast at 9:30am. Many of us didn't do much before the game. The hotel was on the beach so the team went to the pool on the roof to check out the view. Of course, after seeing the view, we had to go down and walk on the beach for a bit. We saw some jellyfish as well as some interesting people on the beach. After the beach we went back to the hotel to relax before the game.

Come game time we were all ready to play. We started off slow and the other team built up a solid 10-point lead we could never overcome. The 10-point lead, poor shooting, as well as some physical play from the other team really made it a struggle for us. We ended up losing 80-71. However, after the game, coach told us to keep our heads up. He told us that we battled.

Friday, Aug. 31
By Tyler Les (G, 6-2, 185, Jr., Peoria, Ill.,)
Today was another unforgettable day in Rome. We started with a drive to the Livorno Military base. Most of us took this time to catch up on some sleep that we've missed out on the past few days. We stopped to have a pregame meal. When we arrived at the military base, we were all very surprised at how big the base was. We got to the gym and started with the clinic for some of the kids who lived in the base. They picked up the fundamentals of the game pretty easily and had a great time. At the end, the kids got to pick a player to team up with and we had a shooting competition. Darius and his partner took the win in the shooting competition. After all that, it was game time. The Aggies played well. We ran the floor extremely well and moved the ball well against the zone the other team played. It was a good team win and we were extremely honored and humbled to visit the base and say thank you to the men and women who are serving our country overseas. Time to rest up and get ready for another game tomorrow! #3-0

Thursday, Aug. 30
By Josh Ritchart (G/F, 6-9, 135, Jr., Auburn, Calif.)
Today was a great day of sightseeing for the team after getting a good win yesterday! We started out early at around 9:30 and went to our tour of the Colosseum, which was amazing. It was awesome to see such a historic piece of history that all of us have known about and we all got to go inside and see it up close. After that we got to see a bunch of the ancient ruins still left from the ancient Roman plaza. It is amazing that after two thousand years that some of these building are still standing; it is unbelievable. It was very hot today in Rome and being in the sun for so long was very tough. After all this we had a short lunch break and then continued the tour to go on to see the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Everything that we got to see today was incredible and it really shows how awesome the Roman Empire was and how powerful it was that they put that much time and effort into their architecture. It was truly an awesome day for everybody on the team that we all got to experience seeing these tremendous places.

Wednesday, Aug. 29
By Paolo Mancasola (G, 6-1, 180, Sr., Redding, Calif.)
Day two in Rome was a success! We began by briefly getting loose in preparation for our game against Latina Basket; however, much of the afternoon was spent walking around downtown Rome and catching up on some much-needed sleep. Having spent the last two weeks preparing for European competition, it was a relief to finally play against another team. Many of the customs and regulations of FIBA basketball differ from what we are used to in the U.S. Not only are the FIBA rules different from the NCAA rules, the teams relate to one another differently than back home. Before the game, both teams exchanged gifts, and after the game had ended, both teams came together to show appreciation for a highly competitive game. Rome continues to amaze everyone with its rich culture, and also by the overall warmth of the people. The history of Rome is seen in the city's incredible architecture, and it has truly been a joy to walk the streets and take in the sights. I expect tomorrow to be full of even more exciting new experiences as we will be taking a tour of the Colosseum... can't wait!

Tuesday, Aug. 28
By Darius Graham (G, 5-10, 180, Fr., Sacramento, Calif.)
Today was definitely a day to remember. Woke up this morning and the team and I went to the Vatican and was able to see historic landmarks and paintings. One of those paintings, and also one of the most famous buildings in the world, was the Sistine Chapel. The detail and precision used in the painting is incredible knowing that Michelangelo had to look straight up to paint. It was really a breathtaking experience. We also went into St. Peter's Basilica, which is humongous! The letters that border the church alone were taller than me, although I stand extremely tall at around 5' 10". The body of Pope John-Paul II is on display there which was interesting. This trip is really a once in a lifetime experience and I speak for the team when I say we are extremely grateful, fortunate, and thankful for this opportunity we have. I can't wait for tomorrow to handle business on the hardwood!

Sunday, Aug. 26/Monday, Aug. 27
By Spencer Clayton (P, 6-10, 230, Jr., Gresham, Wash.)
Well, it's finally here. Today was the much-anticipated day that we finally left for Europe! Everybody arrived at UC Davis to load the busses filled with enthusiasm and ready to head out. We began our journey with a bus ride to San Francisco to the airport and our journey had begun. Our travels went fairly smooth and despite spending a total of 13 hours on a plane (split between flights), during which the majority of us got little to no sleep, we finally arrived in Rome. We were exhausted but our excitement hadn't wavered one bit.

Upon our arrival to the magnificent city of Rome and once we had gathered all of our luggage, we boarded our bus and took an hour long guided tour of the many different sites of Rome. I've never been to or seen such a beautiful city filled with so much history. Some of the many places we passed by and go glimpses of include the Coliseum, the Vatican, St. Paul's Basilica, and Trevi Fountain. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I'm incredibly excited to see what the next few days here have in store for us.