BLOG #11: K-State Returns Home from a Trip of Lifetime

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 in this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Freshman Brian Patrick
Today we drove to the airport in Switzerland which was like an hour away from our hotel. We flew to Amsterdam which was like an hour and a half. Once we got to Amsterdam we flew to Atlanta, Georgia which was over a nine-hour flight. The flight was pretty tough for me because it was uncomfortable and I felt like I was getting a cold. Our flight from Atlanta to Kansas City was delayed by 15 minutes but it wasn't so bad. We arrived in Kansas City and took a charter bus back to Manhattan. Personally, I loved the trip and the once in a lifetime experience. I was really thankful to be a part of something so special.

Head coach Bruce Weber
As I sit on the plane ready to depart Switzerland, so many thoughts are going through my head about our 12-day journey. There are special moments in our players’ careers such as graduation, winning championships, participating in NCAA Tournament, however, being part of a team basketball international excursion has to be part of that list of memorable moments. I have been blessed to part of 10 plus team trip of this type and there is no doubt this has to be one of the most unbelievable trips that I have been part of during my coaching career. 

As our staff approached the trip, we felt it was important that our team developed the mental toughness to deal with the adversity and tough times that come up in every season. I always say that these adventures are a microcosms of a season. The ups and downs that come with a season. However, I couldn’t have imagined waking on Monday morning, August 8 to find out that our Delta Airlines’ entire computer system was down. The next 60 hours of the trip definitely provided more adversity than you can imagine! Our journey to Rome was not a pleasant one. Then to try and play a game after 48 hours of airports, hotels and little or no sleep definitely not an easy task. Not to mention a throwing in a quick tour of the Roman Colosseum and Forum before the game. Needless to say our first game was not a thing of beauty. The players’ minds said yes but their bodies said no. To our players’ credit they battled and competed and gave themselves a chance to win the game. 

Things did settle down after the hectic start of the trip. The next week provided amazing opportunities to see places such as The Vatican City, Florence and the statue of David, Venice and the magnificent Lake Como. Mixed in the sightseeing we also did play some better basketball in the upcoming games. Obviously our staff wanted to not only get a jump start to our upcoming season by implementing part of our system but we also needed to get our players, especially the new ones, extra game experience. As a coaches it’s a fine line between trying to win the games and trying to get the experience we need. You never know the competition level of your opponents as you approach the tour. 

We were fortunate to play three organized and quality opponents. The Kosovo National provided the most difficult task. A team with veteran professional players who are well schooled at basketball especially FIBA basketball philosophies. Their ball movement and floor spacing were a pleasure to watch as a coach. After a very slow start and missing our first nine shot we compete with our crafty opponent. Although whenever we made a run they made the right play. A disappointing loss but a game and a style of play we need to learn from as we approach the upcoming season. 

Each day our travel party would comment that things couldn’t get better than the last day. Our last long bus ride (eight hours) from Lake Como through Switzerland was breathtaking. Things that you do not see on an average day like mountains, castles, chalets, waterfalls and lakes. Upon arriving at Montreux, known as the Swiss Riviera, on Lake Geneva we round another most beautiful place. The trip ended on a positive as all the players played quality minutes in an easy win versus BBC Laussane, a new member of the Swiss A-1 League.

I want to personally thing all of our travel party (which included family, friends, fans and administrators) for making the trip an enjoyable one! It was not an easy tour, but everyone made the best of the situation. The unique part of the trip is the interaction of all of the travel party with our players and staff. New friendships and memories were definitely a product of this journey. After a long day of travel, it is back into reality. Classes begin on Monday, weight workouts later in the week and recruiting visits next weekend. And real practice begins in 43 days. 

What a trip! Special memories and a great opportunity to jump start our season. Our staff and players are looking forward to an exciting season! Go Cats!