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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Watch out Europe, here come the Cats”

    Watch out Europe, here come the Cats

    Going Global

    The Arizona men’s basketball team will embark on the ultimate road trip about a week after finals end.

    The Wildcats’ version of “”Euro Trip,”” a two-week tour of some of Europe’s most popular destinations, will begin May 21 when they land in London and travel directly to Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, home of junior forward Ivan Radenovic. Radenovic’s mother plans to cook the team a typical Serbian meal, and Arizona will stay for three nights while playing two games in the war-torn town.

    “”When you take a look at Belgrade and what the people in that area have had to go through, it’s really been about 5,000 years of war,”” Arizona head coach Lute Olson said. “”From Ivan’s standpoint, he’s excited about the fact that the guys are going to see the differences in how they’ve had to deal with all of these problems through the years.

    “”We face the terrorism thing now, but that’s something that’s been there for thousands of years.””

    In Belgrade, the team will go see a town that has stood for 6,000 years, according to Radenovic.

    “”It’s definitely going to be a cool experience,”” he said.

    Radenovic thinks the trip will benefit more than just the Wildcats.

    “”It’s going to be a good experience for Serbian fans and also for our players,”” he said.

    From Belgrade, the team will fly to Milan, Italy, then immediately travel to Venice, Italy, to take a tour, according to the tentative schedule. After the tour, Arizona will play one of the Benetton teams in Treviso, Italy. Benetton Treviso is one of Europe’s best-known basketball clubs. The Wildcats then will go to Bologna, Italy, an Olson-described “”college town”” and a place with which assistant coach Miles Simon is very familiar.

    Simon played professionally just outside of Bologna and said it was one of his favorite places, according to Olson. The team will play two games in Bologna and stay for two nights.

    Sophomore walk-on forward Bret Brielmaier, a self-proclaimed “”big art history guy,”” said he was the most excited to see Italy.

    “”I’m really excited to go see the Vatican, a lot of artwork in Rome … and all those spots,”” he said. “”The games will be great, but I’m going for more of the cultural aspect.””

    Following Bologna, the Wildcats will take a train ride to Florence, Italy, a city they will tour for half a day with the possibility of playing a game there. If they are unable to schedule a game, they will travel during the second half of the day to Rome, where they will stay for three days and play two games.

    “”We’ll take one day to tour the Vatican and the southern hills of Rome,”” Olson said. “”The great thing about Rome is … it’s like an open-air museum.””

    Having Olson as its head coach, Arizona will receive some perks other tourists may not, like Olson’s favorite tour guide.

    “”We’ll visit the Vatican with probably the best tour guide I’ve ever had anything to do with,”” Olson said. “”In Florence it will be two people that I know that can present more than what the normal tour guide can provide.””

    After staying in Rome, Arizona will fly to Barcelona, Spain, and stay in a seaside community called Sitges, an artist colony.

    “”They will have a day at the beach,”” Olson said. “”We’ll play a game in Barcelona (and then) fly to Paris. The first day will be for tours of Paris, and then we will play two games there and fly back (to Arizona) on Sunday.””

    The Wildcats have quite a bit of international flavor, but Australia native and sophomore guard Daniel Dillon said it will be “”a cultural experience.””

    “”Shock,”” Radenovic interrupted.

    More than just seeing Europe, the trip may serve as a team chemistry builder.

    “”It’s a bonding experience for the guys,”” Olson said.

    Itinerary change

    Initially, the Wildcats considered making a stop in Mali, home of redshirt freshman forward Mohamed Tangara. Those plans were canceled, however, because of security concerns.

    Tangara said a virus similar to yellow fever prevented Arizona from visiting his village.

    “”It’s not very scary, but we have to take care of our team,”” Tangara said. “”We don’t want to bring anyone over there. We don’t want to take any chances.””

    Tangara is hopeful that he can one day show off his homeland to his teammates and vice versa.

    “”It’s very disappointing because no one ever brings (their teammates back to Mali),”” Tangara said. “”I would have been the first one to bring people back, but it didn’t work out. Hopefully in the future we can go there.””

    McClellan and Shakur out for Europe trip’s games

    Redshirted sophomore guard Jawann McClellan will not participate in any of the games on the road trip but will accompany the team.

    “”I don’t think I’m gonna do it,”” McClellan said. “”My goal is to be ready for next season. I’m not trying to push towards anything. If I’m not ready, I’m not ready.””

    Junior point guard Mustafa Shakur will not join the team on the trip as he evaluates his NBA Draft status.

    Preparing for Europe

    Before Arizona ever sets foot on the European continent, the Wildcats will have more knowledge of the place they are visiting than today. A week before the trip, the Wildcats will be in a classroom, studying.

    “”The class that they are going to take they will spend the first week here studying about all of the places they are going to visit,”” Olson said. “”And not just about the physical things there, but the cultural.””

    Olson said that Donna Swaim, a retired classics and humanities lecturer, will teach the class and has a lot of experience in teaching students internationally and taking students on tour.

    “”I think it’s going to be the kind of educational experience that they will look back on the rest of their lives and say that that was a wonderful opportunity,”” he said. “”Playing in the games will be great because we can play everybody equal time, but I think that would be the third thing that I would look at.

    “”I’d look at No. 1 the team bonding and probably the cultural experience that it’s going to be.””

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