(Mark Schmidt Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)
By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Five Atlantic 10 basketball teams have gone abroad to participate in foreign summer tours this year, which raises an annual question: will St. Bonaventure ever go on one again?
Division I teams are allowed to participate in a summer or in-season international tour once every four years. Dayton, Duquesne George Washington, Richmond and VCU are taking advantage in 2016.
Dayton traveled to Spain for a 10-day, two-game trip. The Flyers lost to Spanish Select in Madrid but defeated the Barcelona All-Stars in the second game. They last went on a tour in summer 2011, when they traveled to Holland and France.
The Duquesne women visited France, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia on their 12-day, three-game tour. The Dukes won all three games, with a 35-point margin of victory.
George Washington is halfway through a four-game Japanese tour. The Colonials have won both games against the Japanese National Team, with one more matchup coming on Friday before they conclude against the Ryukyu Golden Kings on Sunday. The program toured Italy in 2012.
Richmond is in day nine of a 12-day European trip that includes stops in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The Spiders won their games in Dublin, Ireland and Antwerp, Belgium. They play in Weert, Netherlands tomorrow and finish in Houthalen, Belgium on Friday. The program toured Italy in 2012.
VCU is in Spain, halfway into a 10-day, four-game tour. The Rams recorded victories in both of their contests thus far, playing in Madrid and Valencia. Like GW and Richmond, VCU also went on an Italy tour in 2012.
The last time the Bonaventure men’s basketball team went on an international excursion was to Europe in 2001. The women’s squad visited Europe a year later.
Will either team go abroad in the future? Athletic director Tim Kenney, who helped plan UMass basketball’s trips to the Bahamas in 2006 and Europe in 2015, says he leaves it up to the head coaches.
“It’s something outside of the normal budget so fundraising is a big part of doing the trip,” Kenney said.
In addition to playing against professionals, the NCAA allows 10 practices in preparation for competition. This is beneficial for coaches and players, who have some restrictions on contact with each other during the summer. There are considerations that need to be made, however.
“Having done these (trips) before, personally I believe you have to understand that it makes the season significantly longer,” Kenney said. “Most of the time these are done in August, where normally the players get to go home for a break (after summer classes) before school starts. By doing this it doesn’t give them much time away.
“It can be very useful for teams with a lot of new players to gel early, but you have to be careful of the effects of an elongated season.”
If fans think this expeditions are guaranteed give their team an edge on the rest of the conference or country, they will be disappointed. Here’s how A-10 teams performed the season after their recent summer trips:
Year Team Previous season Season after trip
2015 Duquesne 12-19 (6-12 conf), 11th A-10 17-17 (6-12), 10th
2015 La Salle 17-16 (8-10 conf), 9th A-10 9-22 (4-14), 14th
2015 Saint Louis 11-21 (3-15 conf), 14th A-10 11-21 (5-13), 12th
2015 UMass 17-15 (10-8 conf), 6th A-10 14-18 (6-12), 10th
2013 Rhode Island 8-21 (3-13 conf), 14th A-10 14-18 (5-12), 11th
2013 Saint Joe’s 18-14 (8-8 conf), 8th A-10 24-10 (11-5), 3rd
2012 Charlotte 13-17 (5-11 conf), 11th A-10 21-12 (8-8), 8th
2012 George Wash 10-21 (5-11), 11th A-10 13-17 (7-9), 11th
2012 Richmond 16-16 (7-9), 9th A-10 19-15 (8-8), 8th
2012 VCU 29-7 (15-3), 2nd CAA 27-9 (12-4), 2nd
2001 St. Bonaventure 18-12 (9-7), 5th A-10 17-13 (8-8), 3- East
While there are other factors to these results, they show that the greatest benefits of these trips often occur off the court: the travel and the experience. Going to Europe won’t automatically make a 10-win team an NCAA Tournament team, but the bonding and memories are what make these trips special.
“These trips, if done right, are a great educational tool for the players as they get to experience another country and be exposed to other cultures around the world,” Kenney said.
If the fundraising and team structure was right, an international trip would be a future possibility for SBU. Whether the coaching staff and players would be committed to cutting their summer short would determine whether the possibility would become reality.