BYU basketball set to embark on four-game trip to Italy
Still coping with the disappointing news that star senior forward Yoeli Childs won’t be able to play in the first nine games of the season due to NCAA sanctions, the BYU basketball team is leaving for Europe Friday for a series of exhibition games.
PROVO — Still coping with the disappointing news that star senior forward Yoeli Childs won’t be able to play in the first nine games of the season due to NCAA sanctions, the BYU basketball team is leaving for Europe Friday for a series of exhibition games.
The Cougars are set to play four contests in five nights in Italy against Italian teams.
Leading up to this trip, BYU has had 10 days of practice, which is a good thing for a team that has a new coaching staff, including head coach Mark Pope, and several new players on the roster.
“Like every coach in America that gets to do this, I’m way more excited about the 10 days of practice,” Pope said. “The trip is going to be amazing.”
“I’m excited to go to Italy and play in these preseason games.” — Yoeli Childs
What do the Cougars hope to gain from this experience overseas?
“I hope we can develop some chemistry on the court. I feel like this team is super-close off the floor,” said senior guard TJ Haws. “We’re getting closer every single day. Guys like each other. There’s a good vibe in the gym. But I’m excited to be able to play against someone else and hopefully get some really good chemistry going.”
“It’s been a lot of fun to be on the court with the guys. We’re excited about this opportunity to go to Italy and have some fun and play some games,” said senior grad transfer Jake Toolson. “For me, it’s been cool to get to know my teammates and see how we’re going to piece together, and what we all bring to the table. This is just the beginning and it’s been a lot of fun so far.”
While Childs was slapped with a nine-game suspension after a paperwork misstep in connection to declaring early for the NBA draft last spring, he will be able to play in Italy.
“I’m excited to go to Italy and play in these preseason games,” Childs said.
In addition to practices, Pope has had prepared his team for Italy in other ways.
“We’ve been taking classes on the history and tradition of Italy and learning all about it,” Toolson said. “We’ll take care of business on the floor but it will be cool to experience new things together and develop that chemistry.”
Senior forward Dalton Nixon is looking forward to tipping off the season by traveling thousands miles away from Provo.
“It feels weird to be practicing full-on in August as we’re preparing for this Italy trip. But it’s been a great opportunity to get to know the staff and the new guys and be one step ahead and put this thing together. I’m excited to be able to go to Italy and bond with the team,” he said. “It will be good to have a road trip together, and to be able to be on the floor in a game setting before the game starts is a real advantage, especially with a new coaching staff. We hope to have some great Italian food, a lot of fun touring Italy, but let’s get some wins while we’re out there.”