The University of Colorado women's basketball team is taking a 10-day tour of Italy, Aug. 12-21. The Buffaloes are scheduled to compete in four games against teams comprised of players from professional leagues all over Italy. Colorado players, coaches and staff will also have the chance to take in many of the historic and cultural sites of the country. Per NCAA rules, the Buffaloes were allowed to have 10 full team practices leading up to this trip, the last coming Monday morning at the Coors Events Center before heading to DIA later in the afternoon. This trip has been paid for by donors of the basketball program. Italy is eight hours ahead of the Mountain Time Zone.
Colorado Women's Basketball Itinerary:
Monday, Aug. 12
The team leaves Denver in the evening, and travels overnight to London, arriving Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday, Aug. 13 -- Lake Como
After a brief layover in London, the Buffaloes will arrive in Milan Tuesday afternoon and travel to Lake Como, located in the northern part of the country, near its border with Switzerland.
Wednesday, Aug. 14 -- Lake Como
In the shadows of the Rhaetian Alps, the Buffaloes will explore Lake Como, which stretches 75 miles. A boat trip to Bellagio is included in the itinerary. Following the day-long tour, Colorado will head east to Venice in the evening.
Thursday, Aug. 15 -- Venice
Colorado spends the day in Venice, including a guided walking tour of the city with stops at St. Mark's Basilica, St. Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge spanning the Grand Canal.
Friday, Aug. 16 -- Florence GAME #1 vs. Toscana All-Stars
Colorado travels south to Florence for the first of four its games, scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. MDT). The Toscana All-Stars are comprised of players from Firenze, San Giovanni Valdarno, Pontedera of the A2/B professional level.
Saturday, Aug. 17 -- Florence
The Buffaloes remain in Florence for a day of sightseeing in the rolling green hills of Tuscany, the region behind the inspiration for CU's architectural design.
Sunday, Aug. 18 -- Rome GAME #2 vs. Lazio All-Stars
It's off to the capital city of Rome for a 5 p.m. local time game (9 a.m. MDT. The three games in Rome will comprise of players from Rome, Latina, Santa Marinella of the A2/B professional level.
Monday, Aug. 19 -- Rome GAME #3 vs. Lazio All-Stars
Colorado is scheduled to tour the historic sites of ancient Rome including the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. Game time Monday is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. MDT).
Tuesday, Aug. 20 -- Rome GAME #4 vs. Lazio All-Stars
The Buffaloes are scheduled to tour the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica before tipping off their final game at 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. MDT).
Wednesday, Aug. 21
Travel day back to Colorado.
Head Coach Linda Lappe
Opening Statement - “We feel very blessed and grateful that we get to travel to Europe. We leave on Monday to go to Italy, where we are starting in Lake Como, then we’ll go to Venice, Florence and we’ll end in Rome. It’s a great opportunity for our team and for our coaching staff to be able to come together and really start to figure out what we have as a team. It will also give us the chance to experience the culture of a different country and figure out how other countries do things. So far, we’ve had nine practices and we have one more left on Monday before we take off on Monday night. We’ve had great practices so far and they’ve been fun. We have a great group of young women. Whenever you’re taking a trip overseas, you never know how it’s all going to play out, but we have a great group of ladies that I’m excited to take over there and get to know better. We have four freshman and it should be a great experience for us.”
On advice from men’s basketball and their Europe trip last summer -
“We actually just talked about this the other day. Tad [Boyle] and I’s schedules have not been together at all during the summer. He’s home while I’m recruiting and vice versa, so I finally got a chance to talk to him the other day. He just said to enjoy the experience, don’t worry too much about wins and losses and that it’s really nice to not have many people paying attention or caring about whether you win or lose. It’s really going to be our pride that we want to win. It should be something that we can use to help springboard us into next season. Especially after losing our point guard, Chucky Jeffery, and Meagan Malcolm-Peck, our captain, those are two huge positions that we have to try to fill and what a better way to do it than get an early start. It’s really helped our 2014 recruiting as well because we’ve been able to figure out exactly what it is that we need and what we’re missing.”
On the landmarks and culture that the team hopes to see in Europe - “There are a lot of things that I want the team to see. I’ve heard that Lake Como is outstanding and we’re starting there. Lake Como is probably the city that I’m most excited for because it’s a little bit slower. However, I think being able to see a coliseum in Rome, being able to see Florence and all of the different things there - I’ve heard we need to see the David. We’re really looking forward to that. You never really know what is going to be your favorite part of the trip until you go over there. Right now I think Lake Como will be great but I also think that there’s going to be different parts that I really enjoy. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve given four players the opportunity to brief our team on what we should see in each of those cities. They have to do the research and figure out what it is that we need to see. I know that Brittany Wilson has Lake Como and she says we have to go see George Clooney’s house. I’m sure there are a lot more places that she’ll brief us on when we head that way. It should be fun.”
On the advantages of getting an early start to prepare for the upcoming season -
“It’s a chance for our team to immediately come together. It’s been difficult to plan practices because just as I told our team, we have to be ready to play a game next week. We normally have 10-12 weeks of just a very slow progression that gives us a chance to build up to what we want to do both offensively and defensively. As a coach, I’ve had to figure out what the most important things are and what we have to get in, and then what we’re going to led slide in terms of fundamentals and different things like that. That’s been different and a challenge but I think the team building aspect of it is probably going to be the most important piece. We could have practiced this summer anyway because of the new NCAA rules, but I think being in a foreign country together where you may be the only people speaking English and everyone is uncomfortable. Not one person in our travel group is going to be completely comfortable and when you have that scenario, it brings you together because you rely on one another.”
On the level of competition expected in Italy - “We don’t quite know the level that we’ll be playing against. The time of the year that we are going, a lot of the club teams have players that haven’t necessarily come back yet. They usually start coming back at the end of August or the beginning of September. I know that we have the chance to be playing teams that are anywhere from 16-year-olds to 35-year-olds. These teams are very diverse in age and in playing ability as well. Our first game in Florence will be the toughest, so I think that’s a good thing. We then play three games in Rome. I’m not sure the level of competition there. As far as rules, there are quite a few different rules. We’ve been trying to practice with those as much as we can. The two that will probably effect us the most is the extended three-point line, which is a good foot behind ours. It seems considerably further when we’re practicing and when we’re taking shots. The second major difference will be the trapezoid lane. Even though they are changing this, most of the gym over there will still be of the trapezoid lane. So we’ll be dealing with that and having to think to be more spread out. We’ve really worked on spacing in practice. Our young players really want to hug that three-point line and with the lane, we’re really going to have to space out the floor on the outside. I think the other adjustment will be that after a dead ball, or if you throw the ball out of bounds, they aren’t going to make sure that everyone is set on the floor. They’ll have the official sprint over there and throw the ball to a spot and as fast as you can get it back in, they will let you do that. We’ve practiced that a little bit and I think it can actually be advantageous for us. Defensively, we’re going to have to be on our game and have a sense of urgency.”
On other universities that will be playing in Europe -
“I know that usually you cross paths with one or two other universities while you’re over there. I don’t know who that might be yet, but I imagine we’ll see one or two other universities while we’re in Europe.”
On going to Europe this summer instead of last summer -
“It’s actually been a blessing in disguise. We originally planned on going to Europe last year and then we had a few too many injuries and some off-season surgeries that we needed to take care of. We weren’t going to have our full squad so we postponed the trip until this year and it is the perfect time. A lot of times when you start practice in October, that’s when you first really start to understand what you’re missing and then you have to make sure you fix that by your first game. We know what we’re missing in August. We’re going to know our strengths and have the chance to get an idea of those. When we come back and through preseason, we can start to incorporate drills and concepts that we’ll need in order to be successful. It will also help us to develop some of the players that we really need this year. It’s good when you have a group of veteran players and you know what you’re going to get. It’s been fun to see them get better in the offseason, something they had to do. We lost Chucky [Jeffery] who did a lot of things for us. If everyone else on the team doesn’t get better, then we’re not going to be as good as a team. I think they really took that to heart and I’ve seen them improve a lot.
On the excitement level heading into Europe and the upcoming season -
“The first couple of practices were a little rough. They are used to playing pick-up all summer and that isn’t how we practice. There were some bad habits just as far as the effort and in terms of fundamental things. After about three practices, they were ready. We picked up the intensity and our young players have done a great job of watching and learning. We haven’t really had to coach anyone on effort in the last six or seven practices which has been really fun. We had our best practice yesterday. We actually went a little bit longer yesterday because I was having so much fun watching them. It was a great experience. It was the best and most fun practice we’ve had in a long time. They are ready to go and they are excited. They know they are going to have a great experience. It will be something they will never forget.”