Aug. 21, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - Education, team bonding, cultural awareness and competition will characterize the UC Davis men's basketball team's upcoming 10-day trip to Italy and France which will feature the Aggies taking on tough European teams.
UC Davis will arrive in Rome next Monday and spend five days in Italy before traveling to Nice, France, for the remainder of the trip. The team will return home on Sept. 5.
The Aggies, entering their second season under head coach Jim Les, will play five games - three in Italy and two in France - against club, professional and U.S. military teams while also visiting many of the world's most famous sites such as the Colosseum, Vatican City, the Pantheon and the City of Monaco.
Under NCAA rules, collegiate teams can make a foreign trip every four years. Nearly 60 Div. I teams are making such excursions this summer including Pacific (France, Aug. 10-20) and Cal State Northridge (Canada, Aug. 21-26) from the Big West. Seven Pac-12 members and three from the Mountain West are also traveling.
The Aggies' trip is completely funded by Basketball Travelers, Inc., which organizes many of the tours taken by collegiate men's and women's basketball teams. In return, UC Davis will play in three tournaments sponsored by the tour organizers over the next three seasons.
The trips bring many benefits to college programs besides the opportunity to experience an overseas tour. They're also allowed to practice 10 days prior to leaving, helping them gain valuable experience before official practices begin in the fall. For the Aggies, who will have six players making their debut this season, the extra court time in the summer is critical.
"This is a great opportunity for our new players to get acclimated to a new system and new teammates," Les said. "It also gives them a chance to play competitive European teams that play a physical brand of basketball."
Among the players that will wear the UC Davis uniform for the first time is Arizona State transfer Corey Hawkins, who joined the program prior to last season but had to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules. Standout junior Ryan Sypkens, who played just four games before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year, will also see valuable court time.
Returning forwards J.T. Adenrele and Josh Ritchart, and guards Tyler Les, Ryan Howley and Paolo Mancasola, will be joined on the trip by redshirt freshman Justin Dueck and newcomers Darius Graham, Olivier-Paul Betu, Tyler Ott, Clint Bozner and Spencer Clayton.
The games will be played using FIBA international rules, and against teams that are seasoned and talented.
UC Davis will play its first game against Latina Basket, a member of the Italian B-1 League, on Aug. 29 before traveling on Aug. 31 to Camp Darby in Livorno, Italy to play a U.S. military team based there. The Aggies will stay in Livorno and face Don Bosco Livorno on Sept. 1 before heading to Nice, France where they'll play Golf-Juan, a French National 2 team, on Sept. 3.
The tour finishes in Nice with a matchup against Cagnes Sur Mer, member of the NM3 Division in France, on Sept. 4.
"We get a jump-start on our season in August and I am excited about seeing this team grow together," said Les.
Les said the practices prior to the tour and the competition will provide valuable on-court benefits. However, the opportunities afforded by visiting different countries as a team will hopefully provide personal growth and help build team cohesiveness.
"As much as this is a trip motivated by basketball, we also want to be sure the players take advantage of the cultural and educational experiences," Les said. "We will also work on some team-building exercises during our trip."
Among the sites UC Davis is scheduled to visit in Italy are the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. France will offer an opportunity to visit the Promenade De Anglais in Nice, while a brief visit to Monaco will offer a stop at the Prince's Palace and the Oceanographic Museum.
UC Davis made its last foreign trip in 2008, visiting France and Switzerland and winning three of four games.