I never shy away from pointing out things that the NCAA gets wrong – and there's no shortage. So, to be fair, I need to comment on what they get right. Today's episode is "foreign trips." Once every four years basketball programs get to embark on a late summer trip somewhere abroad. This gives the teams and coaches more time to practice, but more importantly it fits into the collegiate idiom. Young student athletes get to travel somewhere – once in their career – and make a special trip in which they'll not only hoop, but also be immersed in foreign cultures and history. In other words, they get to be college students.
A number of trips are underway. This will get you caught up:
NC State played their first game in Spain on Monday. Previous reports of Lorenzo Brown sitting out this trip turned out to be false, as Brown came off the bench to score 25. Freshman TJ Warren was the next leading scorer with 20. And since this is basketball, and since Richard Howell was playing, a certain someone was whistled for three quick fouls.
VCU won their first game in Italy handily. Coach Smart noted that the additional summer workouts now allowed by the NCAA have helped acclimate the freshman. "(They are) learning what we do, learning to play at the pace we play at," Smart said. "The workouts have been great for the newcomers because usually we would not be allowed to be on the court with them until August. With the workouts and practices, they are way ahead of the game."
Purdue is another school in Italy. Their first game in Wednesday.
Georgia, yet another school in Italy, rolled the Vicenze All Stars in their opener. Sophomores Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nemanja Djurisic led the way with 14 each.
There couldn't possibly be more teams in Italy, right? And if there were more teams in Italy, they wouldn't sleep all afternoon and then go looking for McDonald's, right?
Kansas, after suffering through several travel delays, finally made it to Switzerland where they played – and beat – the Swiss National Team by three. Four players scored in double digits, and the Jayhawks committed 28 turnovers. That's 28, as in ten + ten + eight.
Utah couldn't win many basketball games last season, but against a Division II Brazilian team? No problem. The leading scorer, by the way, is from Brazil but plays for Utah.
In the most competitive game, Washington State needed a putback in the final seconds to beat the Melbourne Tigers. Washington State led by seven with 3:50 to play.