Men’s Basketball Team to Travel to Europe in August

MANHATTAN, Kan. – 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].

“We are all very excited and grateful for this opportunity,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “It’s a great chance for our players to not only grow and learn in a great basketball experience, but also to take part in a great life experience. [Athletics director] John Currie always touts the World Class Student-Athlete Experience at K-State and this will certainly be a trip our players and staff will remember for a lifetime.”  

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.

K-State will spend its first three days (August 9-11) in Rome, where the team will enjoy sightseeing excursions to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon/Rome Temple, Colosseum and Roman Forum before a tour of Vatican City, including the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. 

The Wildcats will play their first game on Wednesday, August 10 against LCC International University of Klaipeda, Lithuania before a tilt with BC Silute, a Lithuanian Basketball Club, on Thursday, August 11, both in Rome.

The team will then start the trip north with visits to the Tuscan cities of Siena and Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, on August 12 and 13 before moving to Mestre and Venice on August 14 and Verona and Lake Como in the Italian Alps on August 15 and 16. These five days will be highlighted by sightseeing tours of Florence, including the Accademia Gallery, which houses Michaelangelo’s David, as well as Venice, Verona (made famous by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” and Lake Como, which is the most famous lake in Italy.  

The Wildcats will play their third contest on Saturday, August 13 against the Italian Select team in Tuscany before playing the Kosovo National Team in Como on Tuesday, August 16.

K-State will end its 10-day trip in Switzerland, where the team will visit Montreux on August 17 and Chateau de Chillon near Lake Geneva on August 18. Montreux, which is near Lake Geneva bay, is surrounded by vineyards with the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, while Chateau de Chillon is a medieval fort that dates to 1160 A.D. on the shores of Lake Geneva. 

The team will play its final game against BBC Lausanne in nearby Lausanne on Thursday, August 18. 

The Wildcats will depart to return to the U.S., on Friday, August 19.

“The last time we were able to do this [to Brazil in 2012], we were able to take the lessons we learned from that trip and win a Big 12 Championship,” Weber continued. “I think you ask any player from that team and they will tell that the trip was a major factor in our success that season. These types of experiences build tremendous team chemistry and develop a toughness that players get from the extra games and practices. But it won’t be just about basketball. There will be great sightseeing excursions to places like the Colosseum, the Vatican and Lake Como. It will be an unbelievable opportunity for our guys to learn about another culture.”

In addition to travel and competition, K-State will hold 10 on-campus practice sessions prior to the trip that Weber intends to spread out between the months of June, July and August. 

Weber anticipates holding an open practice at Bramlage Coliseum prior to the team’s departure on August 8. More information on the open practice as well as other activities will be announced at a later date.

The Wildcats will return a veteran roster in 2016-17 with nine returning lettermen and six players returning with starting experience, highlighted by All-Big 12 Third Team selection Wesley Iwundu and All-Newcomer honorees Barry Brown and Dean Wade. Overall, the squad returns five of their top six scorers from last season, along with nearly 70 percent of their rebounding, assist, steal and minute totals. Iwundu (11.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) is the team’s top returner in scoring, assists and steals, while rising senior D.J. Johnson (9.3 ppg., 5.2 rpg.) is the leader among three returning players (along with Iwundu and Wade) who averaged better than 4 rebounds per contest a season ago.

The squad will also be boosted by the return of a healthy Kamau Stokes, who started 20 of the first 21 games before a knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the year, as well as the continued development of redshirt freshmen Isaiah Maurice and Dante Williams, who measure at 6-foot-10 and 7-foot, respectively. 

Additionally, the Wildcats’ four incoming freshmen will be able to participate in the foreign tour, as they will arrive on campus the week of June 6-10. Forwards Xavier Sneed, the 6-foot-5 Rivals150 and 4-star standout from Florissant, Mo., and James Love III, a 6-foot-10 center from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were inked during the Fall Signing Period in November, while guards Cartier Diarra, a 6-foot-4 point guard from West Florence, S.C., and Brian Patrick, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from famed Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, signed during the Spring Period in April.

Fans will be able to follow the Wildcats throughout the tour, which is coordinated by Basketball Travelers, on www.kstatesports.com and various department social media channels, along with K-StateHD.TV video updates.

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change)
Day 1 [August 8]
Overnight flight to Rome, Italy

Day 2 [August 9]
Tour Rome – Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon/Rome Temple, Piazza Navonna, Villa Borghese, Via Del Corso

Day 3 [August 10]
Tour Rome – Colosseum, Roman Forum, Campidoglio
Game #1 – vs. LCC International University [Rome]

Day 4 [August 11]
Tour Vatican City – Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel
Game #2 – vs. BC Silute [Rome]

Day 5 [August 12]
Travel and tour Siena/Florence, Italy

Day 6 [August 13]
Tour Florence – Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Cathedral
Game #3 – vs. Italian Select [Tuscany]

Day 7 [August 14]
Travel and tour Mestre/Venice, Italy

Day 8 [August 15]
Travel and tour Verona/Lake Como, Italy

Day 9 [August 16]
Tour Lake Como
Game #4 – vs. Kosovo National Team [Como]

Day 10 [August 17]
Travel and tour Montreux, Switzerland

Day 11 [August 18]
Tour Chateau de Chillion - Lake Geneva
Game #5 – vs. BBC Lausanne [Lausanne]

Day 12 [August 19]
Overnight flight to U.S. via Geneva/Amsterdam/Atlanta/Kansas City