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WSU men’s hoops headed to Australia


WSU made it official today -- the men's basketball team is all set for a tour of Australia that will begin in early August and include games against five different Australian teams. Read on for more details from the school's official release.


Here's what the school sent out ...

PULLMAN, Wash.– The Washington State University men’s basketball team will head to Australia in early August for an international tour, head coach Ken Bone announced.

WSU will depart Pullman Aug. 3, arriving in Melbourne Aug. 5. The tour will take the Cougars to four different areas; Melbourne (Aug. 5-8), Sydney (Aug. 8-12), Brisbane/Gold Coast (Aug. 12-14) and Cairns (pronounced Cans) (Aug. 14-16).

“We are very excited, as a team, to make this trip to Australia,” Bone said. “Not only will we have a great opportunity to compete against elite international competition, but we will also have the chance to really experience Australia and different cultures. With three Australians on our team, I think it will be very special for the guys to see more about where their teammates are from, as it will be great for the Aussies to make a trip home and play in front of family and friends. I really think this trip is going to help us as a team as we get to know each other better both on and off the court. I can’t thank Bill Moos enough for this opportunity.”

Highlighting the tour are games against the National Basketball League’s (NBL) Melbourne Tigers (Aug. 7 - Melbourne), Wollongong Hawks (Aug. 10 – Sydney) and Cairns Taipans (Aug. 14 – Cairns). The Tigers represent the state of Victoria and have won four NBL Championships (1993, ’97, 2006, and ’08). Out of South Wales, the Hawks have won one NBL Championship (2001) and are two-time runners-up, most recently in 2010. Named for a snake native to Australia, the Taipans have not won an NBL title, but were runners-up in 2011.

The Cougars will also play games against the North Invitational Team, an ABA (Australian Basketball Association) team which is currently second in the conference, along with some NBL players to improve the strength of the team, (Aug. 9 – Sydney) and the Brisbane Spartans of the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) (Aug. 13 – Gold Coast).

Along with five games, the team will get a full culture experience along the way. Although tentative, Washington State is scheduled for activities such as a tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol, a tour of the Sydney Opera House, a trip to Steve Erwin’s Crocodile Hunter Zoo, and a visit to the Great Barrier Reef.

The game scheduling and tour coordination is being handled by Basketball Travelers, Inc., a company established in 1985 to arrange domestic and international basketball competition. Over 200 collegiate and high school teams participate annually in tours and tournaments organized by Basketball Travelers, Inc. In addition, it organizes NCAA foreign exhibition games as well as international Olympic-qualifying tournaments for national teams.

“It has been great working with Basketball Travelers, Inc. in planning this trip,” Bone said. “Their experience and expertise in organizing foreign tours is outstanding. We’re very grateful to have them help us with this exciting tour.”

The NCAA allows teams to travel overseas for a summer tour once every four years. Washington State most recently toured Australia and New Zealand in the June of 2007, the summer between NCAA Tournament appearances under then-head coach Tony Bennett.

Be sure to check back with for game and tour updates, including photos, blogs and more.

As noted in the release, it'll be a bit of a homecoming for the Cougars' three Australian players, Brock Motum (Brisbane), Dexter Kernich-Drew (Melbourne) and incoming junior college transfer James Hunter (Sydney). Obviously, assistant coach Ben Johnson has developed some strong relationships in that country, and this trip will be another chance for the Cougars coaching staff to further their connections over there. It will also be the second international trip of the summer for sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy, who traveled to East Asia in June with the U.S. Eagles, a team coached by Washington assistant Paul Fortier.

-- In semi-related news -- and I'm admittedly late to this -- Jeff Hironaka was one of three finalists for the head coaching job at Division-II Bemidji State, but lost out to Mike Boschee.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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