Aug 10, 2016
RICHMOND, Va. – A lifetime's worth of experience, not to mention stiff competition, await the VCU Men's Basketball team on its tour of Spain Aug. 12-22.
The Rams will visit Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia on their foreign tour, the team's first since a trip to Italy in 2012. Per NCAA rules, teams can take a foreign tour every four years.
Like many of his teammates, senior and Midlothian, Virginia native Jordan Burgess has never traveled abroad, and he's looking forward to spending 10 days with his teammates.
In addition to four games against professional and club teams, VCU student-athletes and coaches will visit a number of sights, including Madrid's Royal Palace, the beaches of Valencia, Sagrada Familia and the home of FC Barcelona, Camp Nou. Senior Torey Burston says the tour will allow this group to forge a bond for the 2016-17 season.
"We've been emphasizing that a lot in the locker room. Just when we go over there, to have fun, be tight, just get to know each other from a different standpoint," he said.
The trip also allows the Rams to conduct 10 additional team practices under NCAA rules.
"I think the practices have been good," said VCU Coach Will Wade. "We haven't gone more than an hour and a half in any practice. We've tried to be really short, really sharp in whatever we've been doing."
Freshmen De'Riante Jenkins, Marquell Fraser and Malik Crowfield will see their first action in VCU uniforms, as will redshirt freshman Samir Doughty. Each will look to distinguish themselves for November.
"We're looking forward to seeing what some of our younger guys have," Wade said. "Samir hasn't been on the court competitively in almost a year, so we need to knock the rust off of him a little bit. He's a tremendous player. He's been great in practice. We want to knock the rust off of him. We want to see how some of these freshmen react in tough situations, and we'll have a better idea when we get back on Aug. 22."
Wade also says he's challenged the team defensively in the early practices, and hopes to see growth on that end of the floor in the Rams' games abroad.
"I think we've gotten better defensively," he said. "We've put a lot of time into getting better on the defensive end. I would say out of the hour and a half [in practice], we spend an hour on halfcourt and fullcourt defenses. We've changed up some of our presses and changed up some of the things we've doing defensively. I'm hoping that we'll see it pay dividends in Spain. I'd really like to see us lock people down and really guard and rebound the ball."
From basketball to bonding, the Rams are looking forward to an unrivaled experience.
"We're just going to have fun," Burgess said. "It's just a good experience, a different culture and a different way of life over there, so it's a good time to have fun."