Mizzou Prepares to Hoop Overseas
COLUMBIA -- The Tiger basketball team is three months away from the start of it's season, but they're getting some games in this next month.
Mizzou basketball leaves on a five game, ten day European trip on August 8th. They'll play in places like the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. The team is headed thousands of miles from home, and it's not just about basketball.
Senior guard, Michael Dixon, said, "I think the Eiffel Tower. I always wanted to see that. It's really big. I always wanted to go to that and see what all the fuss was about."
Senior forward Laurence Bowers told us why he was excited: "Just to experience overseas. For us to go over there and experience that together. That's going to make our brotherhood a lot stronger."
Speaking of strength... the team has more size this season. Figuring out how to mesh is Mizzou's number one goal. Senior guard and transfer, Keion Bell, talked about it: "Some of the things we're going to learn on this trip will be on court chemistry, 'cause off the court we're real close knit. We got that from last year's group."
Another of Mizzou's senior transfers, Alex Oriahki, said, "This is a trip that is going to bring out everybody's identity. Show what everybody's role is. You're playing 4-5 games so things are going to get real."
Mizzou senior Laurence Bowers is back practicing with team. He missed last season with a torn ACL. "Obviously I'm not the same guy. I've bulked up a little bit. Hopefully I can continue to build on from where I left off. I can dunk now. I might not get as high as I could before I got hurt, but it's going to get back that way."
Coach Haith says Bowers won't play in Europe, and neither will point guard Phil Pressey. He's dealing with a knee sprain.
Oriakhi commented, "The show must go on. That just means other guys are going to have to step up. Other guys are going to have to prove themselves." And there are plenty of candidates... The latest edition of the tigers features four eligible transfers and five new freshmen.
Keion Bell said, "I haven't played in forever, so just playing to see what it feels like to play with referees and get up and down with these guys." New teammates aren't the only new part of preparation. Mizzou is using a new FIBA ball, the type they only use in Europe. Bell commented, "I got all these band aids on my fingers... I've been getting cut up because the balls are so brand new. I'm getting blisters on my fingers. Once they get broken in we'll get used to them." Dixon said, "I've never touched a FIBA ball before, and I hope these next few weeks are the last time I ever have to touch this ball... I want to play in the NBA."
Along with all the basketball, the trip is also educational. Coach Haith says the team is going to get class credit for what they learn on their trip. Last time Mizzou basketball went on a summer trip out of the country, it was Laurence Bowers' freshman season... when the tigers finished in the Elite Eight.