UCA’s men’s basketball team went abroad to prepare for the upcoming season, taking a 10-day tour of France that included four days of competition against semi-pro teams.
Jordan Howard said the trip’s main goal was to give the team an outlook on the upcoming season and to grow closer together.
“Overall, the main goal was to come closer as a group and spend time together to develop more chemistry,” Howard said. “Coach really wanted us to enjoy our time and see everything that France has to offer.”
Before leaving, the team underwent 10 consecutive days of practice, where Howard said the team learned its new playing style and how to become more cohesive as a group.
The teammates gathered at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 8 at the Farris Center to bus to the airport.
The 10-day itinerary was interlaced with new food, culture, sightseeing and, of course, basketball.
The Bears took their first game in France 81-74 against AMW Select on Aug. 11. The following day, the Bears fell 85-70 to Bretigny Select. The Bears regained their momentum for the third game day, beating Bretigny Select 91-71 on Aug. 13, continuing the momentum in their final game of the trip, beating Roche La Moliere 121-77 Aug. 14.
After the trip, Howard said the team is playing like a completely new team.
“We definitely accomplished coming closer together as a team, and we played extremely well together,” he said.
Tyler Simmons agreed that the trip brought the Bears closer together and said it helped them prepare for the upcoming season.
“All the work we’ve been putting in showed while we were out in France,” he said. “I think it helped a lot. It gave us an opportunity to run our stuff and play our style against someone besides our own team.”
Simmons said his favorite part of the trip was sightseeing in Paris and experiencing the different culture.
The team took a bus tour of the city, stopping at the Eiffel Tower and driving through the Arc de Triomphe and past the Louvre Museum, later taking a boat tour where they saw the sunset while passing the Eiffel Tower.
One day, the team broke into teams and competed in their own version of the Amazing Race, walking around Paris taking pictures with the items on the list.
For sophomore Thatch, the trip was his first time out of the country.
“Playing, touring all the cities with the team, and just bonding and having a great time with all the guys,” he said. “[We] definitely got a lot closer, and it’s a trip I’ll never forget.”
Thatch said the team’s chemistry on and off the court grew, which he said is important for the upcoming season. Thatch said that this season the team would focus on getting better every day.
“If we focus on pushing ourselves to do that, then I think success will come,” he said.