COLUMBIA – Missouri basketball will head to Europe next week for a five-game, 10-day tour.
After completing their NCAA-sanctioned 10 pre-season practices, the Tigers will leave Wednesday, Aug. 8 and return Saturday, Aug. 18 before the fall term begins on Aug. 20. They will travel to Holland, Belgium and France.
"We are going to utilize this time to really get to know our team," Head Coach Frank Haith said in a press conference Friday morning.
A relatively new Missouri team will be heading to Europe, with only Phil Pressey, Lawrence Bowers and Mike Dixon returning from last season. Bowers has participated in two practices and is pleased with his progress after missing last season due to injury. He, along with Pressey, who recently suffered a mild sprain, will not be playing in Europe.
Despite missing two veteran players, Haith is not worried.
"When we look at this new team, the versatility is the strength of this team," Haith said.
Haith said the coaching staff has been matching up different players in different positions and being creative about seeing where the players can excel.
"We are going to utilize this time to get to know our team. Last year's team was so cohesive, but looking at this team, we can do a lot of different things," he said.
The Tigers are planning to see some good competition, and while they will use the same style that was successful last year, Haith said the goal is to bring a new team together.
"Cohesiveness is important," Haith said.
Lawrence Bowers, who traveled to Canada with the 2008 team, hopes this year's trip will have a similar bonding effect.
"Any time you get to spend with your teammates, without any other distractions, is always a plus," said Bowers.
In Europe, players will have to adapt to FIBA, or International Basketball Federation, rules. Haith said the team will be playing against older European teams and on different courts. FIBA competition has wider lanes and different basketballs.
"I have never touched a FIBA ball before, and I hope these next two weeks are the last time I ever have to touch this ball," said Mike Dixon, senior guard.
Also, players are enrolled to take a class in Europe. Pressey said the class is focused on differences between advertising in athletics overseas compared to America. However, the coaching staff is more concerned with the education they will be receiving by watching their new team play in live competition.
"We will learn a lot about our basketball team," Haith said. "And that's the biggest thing – us learning about our basketball team."
Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.