GREENSBORO, NC – The UNC Greensboro men’s and women’s basketball teams are hitting the hardwood a little early – but with good reason.
Both Spartan basketball teams have resumed practice schedules in preparation for a trip to Italy next week. The teams will fly from Atlanta to Milan on an overnight flight next Monday. Arriving in Milan at 8:40 am local time (2:40 am EDT), the teams will bus to their first destination, Lake Como on the Italian/Swiss border.
The rosters will be comprised of last year’s team members, meaning that seniors will have one more chance to wear a Spartan uniform, while getting a chance to showcase their talents to European professional scouts. It will also give the underclassmen a chance to play together and also establish themselves in front of the foreign scouts.
UNCG’s basketball squads last took an overseas trip in the summer of 2001 when they visited Norway and Sweden for a five-game tour.
“This is a great opportunity for our student-athletes,” said UNCG men’s coach Mike Dement. “Obviously, something like this goes way beyond basketball. It is an opportunity for our kids to experience another culture, see some amazing venues, and spend time together as teammates doing something that they will never in their lives forget. It gives some of our players a look at what life is like over there should they be able to have the opportunity to play overseas. We are all looking forward to the trip and hope that in the process, we can play some good basketball, as well.”
“We are very excited to have this unique opportunity to take our team to Italy," said head women's coach Lynne Agee. “We are looking forward to not only the international basketball experience but also to the educational experience. We're thrilled to learn more about the country, culture and language.
“It’s great for us to be able to take this trip with an experienced group and is a great reward for our seniors who have meant so much to the program throughout their careers. This trip is also great for our underclassmen because we'll get to take an early look at next year's squad.”
The teams will play the first of their three games on Wednesday night. The women will take on Azzura San Bonifacio, an Italian second division team, at 8:30 pm local time in San Bonifacio. The men will face Castelletto Ricino in Como on Wednesday night at 8:30 pm local time.
The teams will then bus to Venice on Thursday. The women will take on Thermal Abano that night at Abano Terme. The trip continues down the Adriatic Coast and the sovereign country of San Marino on Friday. Later that night, the men’s team will face KK Rovinj, a Croatian professional team. The teams will have a day off in San Marino on Saturday, May 19 before busing the next day to Florence.
On Sunday night, the women will take on another professional team, Basket Pontedera, in Florence at 7 pm (local). The teams will then have off on Monday to tour the city of Florence before bussing to Rome on Tuesday. The men’s team will face a local college team, College Italia, on Tuesday night. Both teams will tour Rome on Wednesday, including a trip to the Vatican, before flying back to the United States on Thursday, May 24.
The UNCG men’s squad finished the 2006-07 season with a 16-14 mark, finishing second in the Southern Conference’s North Division. The Spartan women’s team finished last season with a 20-10 mark, finishing in a tie for third in the Southern Conference.
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