Todd Lickliter had a choice to make when he decided to take his Iowa basketball team on Italy and Greece during upcoming days and he chose a May trip over a trip later in the summer for a practical reason.
Under NCAA rules, even though Iowa’s incoming players will arrive on campus early next month, they would not be allowed to participate in a foreign tour with the Hawkeyes before the start of fall semester classes.
“I didn’t want to have them work all summer, developing chemistry with their new team, and then have to leave the new guys behind when the returning players went on a trip in August,” Lickliter said Tuesday. “That didn’t make sense.”
Lickliter also felt the timing would have been too close to the start of practices, making an already long season from a time standpoint even longer.
“Guys need a break and after working all summer, we encourage them to spend a couple of weeks in August with their families before classes start in the fall,” Lickliter said.
Lickliter did his homework.
He spoke with coaches at Western Michigan who previously took their team to Italy and Greece, he talked with Washington State coaches about the late-May trip they took and he spoke with Iowa women’s coach Lisa Bluder about her team’s recent trip to Greece.
Lickliter believed having a team trip and exhibition games to work toward led his team to more focused and more energetic individual workouts during the spring months. He labeled his team’s offseason approach to date the best he has seen in his time at Iowa.
Iowa will play four exhibitions during its trip, facing a club team, Basket Ferentino in Rome on Sunday. The Hawkeyes will face the Greek Senior Select team in Athens on May 27 and finish with games against two club teams, Dukas on May 29 and Greek Club Team II on May 31.
The NCAA allows teams to have 10 full team practices before departing on a trip to prepare for competition. Iowa began its workouts about one week ago.
The trip is Iowa’s first overseas since visiting Australia in 2003. The Hawkeyes were scheduled to travel in the summer of 2007, but the coaching change at that time prompted the delay until now.
Funding for the trip is done through monies raised by exhibition games Iowa hosts prior to the start of each season and fundraising events. Regular gate receipts and other athletic department funds are not used to pay for the foreign trips that any Iowa teams take.