WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- On August 20 the Williams College men's basketball team will travel to Spain for a one-week basketball excursion. Over the course of the week, the Ephs will play three games and hold a couple practices in addition to making day trips to various attractions in Spain. The Ephs will stay in a hotel outside Barcelona for the duration of the week.
Head coach Kevin App outlined the team's three central goals for the trip in three words: chemistry, competition, and culture. "[The trip] will be a great opportunity to build team chemistry and grow together as a competitive unit," said App. "It will help us see where we are heading into the fall. For some guys, it will be their first time in Europe, so it's also an opportunity to see another culture and expand our world view," said App.
Due to NCAA and NESCAC rules, no incoming first years are allowed to join the team on the foreign excursion. All 12 returning Eph players will be making the trip. However, only 11 players will get on the court since junior guard Mike Greenman is still recovering from an injury suffered early last season.
App plans to take the games very seriously, but also said that the coaching staff will use the trip as an opportunity to test out different lineups. "We will try to win, but I think part of our strength is going to be our depth," noted App. "We are going to play everybody and use that depth. It's not an experience we get every year, so we'll try out some lineups that we might not necessarily play during the season."
Six of the returning players for the Eph team played in all 25 games a year ago for App's 15-10 team that advanced to the NESCAC semifinal round.
Headlining the list of returning players on the trip will be senior Dan Aronowitz who averaged 18.2 points per game last season. Two additional Ephs who averaged in double figures last season will be on the trip in sophomore forward Kyle Scadlock (11.1 ppg), junior guard Cole Teal (10.5).
In the three games, the Ephs will have to adjust to some rule differences because the games will be played under international basketball rules. The three-point line will be deeper than U.S. collegiate play and the goaltending rules are much more lenient.
App also mentioned that referees overseas tend to be stricter with travels and footwork. Perhaps the biggest rule difference will be the 24-second shot clock as opposed to standard 30 seconds in NCAA Division III. "[The 24-second shot clock] will be good for us," stated App. "It will force us to move the ball quickly and be aggressive."
The Ephs' three opponents will be Club Esportiu Bisbal Basquet, Mataro Parc Boet, and Club Basquet Cornella. Cornella plays in the Liga EBA, the fourth division of Spanish professional basketball, while the other two clubs play in the FCBQ, a lower division of Catalan professional basketball.
An overseas trip for the Ephs men's basketball team has been a couple years in the making. Shortly after App became the head coach in 2014, a few parents approached him and showed interest in the idea of a summer trip. From there, App reached out to various travel agencies that handle competitive trips. Barcelona was one of the highlighted trips as most of the players and coaches had not been there before. The idea of a new place and culture played a major role in the decision to choose Spain as the destination.
Per NCAA rules, teams are only allowed to make trips overseas once every four years. The Ephs last traveled abroad in 2008, when former head coach Mike Maker took his first Eph team to Italy.
App also made the trip to Italy as his first intercollegiate coaching position was as an assistant to Maker at Williams. "After going on the trip in 2008 as an assistant, I'm really looking forward to this experience with these guys. I know how much the 2008 guys still talk about that trip and how much of a part that trip played in allowing that group to grow and play in future Final Fours," said App.
The Ephs return to Boston on August 28th.
Updates from the players and coaching staff will be provided here on the Williams athletics website.