Aug. 6, 2012
Stillwater, Okla. — Oklahoma State's Cowboy Basketball team has been practicing for nearly 10 days in preparation for a foreign exhibition tour to Spain, which begins this week. OSU will depart Oklahoma City on Wednesday morning and travel to Barcelona, Spain, for a 10-day tour which will include four games against international competition as well as several educational tours.
The foreign tour not only serves as an educational experience for the players, but it also gives the coaching staff 10 extra days of practice time with the team before school starts on August 20. The Cowboys will play two games in Sabadell, a suburb of Barcelona, before traveling to the Canary Islands for a pair of games in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
When asked about the benefits of scheduling a foreign tour, head coach Travis Ford was clearly excited.
"The biggest advantage we’ve achieved from preparing for the Spain trip is that during the 10 days of practice, we’ve been able to install a lot of things," Ford said. "The new players are learning all the terminology we use. We’ve put in as many drills and plays in these 10 days as we would during the first two weeks in October, when we begin practice for the season. We’ve got a lot of the system already in, so when October gets here, we’ll be way ahead.”
The extra practice time has given the coaching staff an opportunity to push the Cowboys and see what they've accomplished during the off-season.
“In the practices thus far, the biggest thing that has stood out is the competitiveness and the physicality of all the players," said Ford. "All of the returning guys seem to have matured quite a bit, both mentally and physically. You can see their maturity in how hard they’re playing and the competition they’re bringing to the court. The new players are bringing a new level of physicality and competition that we don’t normally see from freshmen. This is a very mature group of freshmen that is competing physically as well as any freshman group that I’ve ever had. All three of the freshmen — Kamari Murphy, Marcus Smart and Phil Forte — will all play and contribute quite a bit to this basketball team, from what we’ve seen thus far.”
Similar to spring practice in football, the coaches will be able to determine a 'depth chart' of sorts for the upcoming season.
“Once we get over to Spain, and as we play the games, we want to see players playing different positions, and start to define everyone’s role on the team," Ford said.
The Cowboys will play the Sant Nicholas Basketball Club on Friday, August 10, and the Barcelona Select team on Sunday, August 12, both games in Sabadell. OSU will play the Gran Canaria U20 team on Tuesday, August 14, and the Gran Canaria Select team on Thursday, August 16, both games in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
It won't all be about basketball, however, as the Cowboys will have several opportunities to tour the cities of Barcelona and Las Palmas and get a feel for a different culture.
“This trip will be the experience of a lifetime for our players, something they may never be able to do again," said Ford. "It will help our team grow as a unit and continue to grow as a team. It will be a great educational experience for them, because we have several tours planned, guided tours so that our guys can learn about the geography and the history of the areas we’re going to. It will be a great trip and it will accomplish so many things for us; the trip of a lifetime. This is a great group of guys who have worked extremely hard for this, and they’re all very excited.”