What’s better than waiting until the fall to start practice for the new basketball season? Probably traveling the world with your new teammates and playing against overseas opponents, right?
NCAA teams are allowed to take one foreign tour every four years. Starting in 2010, newcomers to the team were allowed to join, giving them some valuable playing time before the beginning of the season. Teams get 10 days of full practice prior to the tour, as opposed to the handful of hours a week that teams are allowed to practice together otherwise.
But it’s not all about basketball — these tours also give players a chance to bond while learning about the country they’re visiting. And for many players, that comes with the added bonus of leaving the United States for the first time ever.
Here’s what Butler, Kent State, Nevada, Saint Francis U and UC Irvine were up to around the world this summer:
Butler Bulldogs — Italy
The Bulldogs faced the Dutch national team, the Florence All-Stars and Valbruno Bolzano in Rome, Florence and Venice, respectively. In between games, the team visited the Colosseum and Vatican City, and rode gondolas in Venice.
Butler opens its season against Wagner on Nov. 9, following a Nov. 2 exhibition against Indianapolis.
Kent State Golden Flashes — Canada
Kent State’s first-ever foreign tour took them to Vancouver, British Columbia, where the team won all three games against VK Select, the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Island University.
Kent State’s season begins Nov. 5 as it takes on Duquesne.
Nevada Wolf Pack — Spain
For Nevada, its first foreign trip was important for getting eight new team members some valuable experience. The team traveled to Madrid, Toledo, Valencia and Barcelona, and its excursions included a tour of Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (home of Real Madrid) and a boat trip around the Mediterranean Sea.
Thanks for the hospitality, Spain! We couldn’t be any more grateful for the opportunity to explore your beautiful country! Adiós for now! pic.twitter.com/wGxNM4qbE9— Nevada WBB (@NevadaWBB) August 19, 2019
Nevada opens play against Saint Mary’s on Nov. 5, after an Oct. 30 exhibition against the NAIA’s William Jessup.
Saint Francis U Red Flash — Australia
The Red Flash spent 11 days in Melbourne and Sydney this summer and played four games against semi-pro teams the Southern Peninsula Sharks, Ringwood Hawks, Sunbury Jets and Basketball Australia Center of Excellence. In addition to sightseeing, the team also got to participate in a youth basketball clinic.
Saint Francis U travels to Virginia Tech to open the season on Nov. 5.
UC Irvine Anteaters — Japan
UC Irvine visited several cities in Japan while running two youth clinics and playing two games. The team also went to Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Disneyland while sightseeing in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Osaka and more. Players shared stories and photos on the team blog during the trip.
UC Irvine begins its season against San Jose State on Nov. 5.