BLOG #2: The 'Cats sightsee and play first game in 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 in this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Sophomore Kamau Stokes
For me, it was really cool to see the ancient ruins and the Colosseum. I just imagined all the people at the Colosseum at once and how loud it would have been during the gladiatorial matches. It brought back memories of the movie, Gladiator. All in all, was an unforgettable experience. After the Colosseum tour, we had a quick pre-game meal of pasta and chicken and got ready for our first exhibition game. The gym was located about 30 minutes from our hotel. We knew this would be a challenge for our team because of the travel delays, but we all were looking forward to playing against someone other than our other teammates. We found ourselves down by 9 at half and 18 early in the 4th quarter, but kept playing hard and got it to within 79-75 with under a minute to play. Though we couldn't quite pull off the comeback, we have another game tonight to get back on track. These games will be great for our team chemistry and also to see what lineups might work well together. For some (Isaiah, Dante, Xavier, Brian, James), that was really their first games as collegiate players. 

Director of Player Development Matt McCumber
Today our travel party finally arrived in Rome, Italy after two cancelled flights, an overnight stay in Atlanta and a 5,024 mile, 9-hour flight. Though we were tired from travel, we checked into our hotel -- Hotel Mediterrano -- got cleaned up and headed straight to the Colosseum for a private two-hour tour. As someone (Matt) that took four years of Latin in high school, this was a bucket list item for me. Though the Colosseum was completed around 80 AD, it has somewhat withstood the test of time and was an engineering marvel to witness. It was home to public executions, gladiator matches and even sea battles. At one time, our tour guide said it could seat approximately 100,000 spectators. It really was fascinating. We also had a little time to walk nearby and visit the Roman Forum where Julius Caesar was murdered. 

That's all from Day 2 in Rome - Go Cats!