BLOG #1: 'Cats Begin Journey To Italy

Kansas State will get a jump start on its preparations for the 2016-17 men’s basketball season with a 10-day trip to Italy and Switzerland in mid-August during which it will play five games.

The Wildcats will depart on Monday, August 8 and return Friday, August 19 touring the Italian cities of Rome, Siena, Florence, Mestre, Venice, Verona and Lake Como as well as Vatican City before concluding the journey in Montreux, Lausanne and Lake Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to the cultural opportunities the tour will provide, the Wildcats will compete against various club, select and national teams, including LCC International University [August 10], BC Silute [August 11], Italian Select [August 13] the Kosovo National Team [August 16] and BBC Lausanne [August 18].

The NCAA permits teams to make an international trip once every four years and this will be the first by the men’s basketball team since Weber’s inaugural season of 2012 when it played four games in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Overall, this will be the program’s fifth trip outside the country, which includes excursions to Japan in 1981, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden in 1993 and Vancouver, British Columbia in 2004.

One player and a member of the staff each day will blog about their experiences on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Senior Austin Budke
The day started by waking up in the Kansas City hotel and reading on Twitter that Delta’s computers were down, and that flights were being delayed and canceled all around the world.  At that point I just disregarded what I had read because I was unaware that we were flying Delta.  After a long process of eating Chick-fil-a breakfast, busing to the airport, getting our bags checked, and waiting to go through security, we were informed that our flight from Kansas City to Atlanta had been delayed an hour, and that our flight from Atlanta to Rome had been delayed from 3 to 6.  Our first flight to Atlanta finally left around 11.  After landing, the pilot told us that the runway was backed up, and it could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and half before we were able to get off the plane.  I decided to start up a poker game on the TV monitors on the back of our seats during the wait, in which the table included a few players and members of the coaching staff.  The game froze a few hands into the game, but I think we all know who the winner would have been.  After finally getting off the plane, we were informed that our flight to Rome and been canceled for a second time, and we weren’t flying out until tomorrow night.  We all had a meal at the food court in the Atlanta airport, and then bused back to a hotel.  We had an hour or so to relax, before heading to the movies.  The night ended with some much needed rest at our hotel, and praying for better results the next day.

Sophomore Barry Brown

Today we woke up as a team and ate breakfast and went to the airport. Before the airport, we went to a tiny BBQ spot in Atlanta. Our travel party took up the entire restaurant and almost ran them out of their brisket, ribs and wings. It was really good and another chance to bond as a team. As we made our way to the airport, we were hoping our flight would take off on time. We already had a flight delay and another flight cancelled the day before so I knew today couldn't get any worse. Also, we all had to leave our checked in bags at the airport from the day before so not many people had clothes to change into for the new day. Fortunately for us, the plane was on time and we arrived in Rome with no problems. 

Associate Head Coach Chris Lowery
We got the news yesterday morning that it looked like our flight was not going to be cancelled, so we went to Georgia Tech & practiced for an hour Tuesday morning before we headed to to the airport for our 6:40 pm flight to Rome.  It was a smooth 9 hour flight that had a big-time selection of movies or you could just go to sleep. I'm sure it wasn't that easy for our "Big" guys with the long arms & legs. 

After several attempts to keep our initial travel date to get here early Tuesday morning we finally arrived in Rome on Wednesday afternoon. We landed and then traveled directly to the Roman Colosseum. What a history lesson and experience for our young men, despite the fact how tired they were I know that they really enjoyed it.   

We played our first game on Wednesday night. We played like we were playing above sea level, no legs and heavy breathing. We played every scholarship player on our roster because Coach Weber wanted to see how certain guys would respond to adversity within the game. We showed flashes but we were also very jet-lagged. We had several different lineups where we played really big and also really small. This game was very good from the standpoint where we were challenged by a team who was very smart and had very good shooters. 

Tomorrow morning we will tour the Vatican , and it will be a very spiritual journey for me. I can't wait to see more history here in Rome.