“Allons jouer au basket,” “Andiamo a giocare a basket” and “Vamos a jugar al baloncesto” are all phrases the 2013-2014 St. John’s University, Jamaica, men’s basketball team better get used to.
Translated as “Let’s play basketball” in French, Italian and Spanish, respectively, these phrases will be vital as the Johnnies take Europe by storm – “Red Storm,” that is.
The St. John’s team is currently in Europe for a two-week, five-game stay through France, Italy and Spain. As part of the “#SJUBB: Taking Europe By Storm” tour, the team has played games against professional European teams and has also experienced European culture.
“This tour provides a number of excellent opportunities for our student-athletes and in various ways, will be a microcosm of the St. John’s University educational experience,” said Chris Monasch, director of athletics. “St. John’s has historic ties to the areas our team will be visiting, including campuses in Paris, France and Rome, Italy. This trip is about more than athletic competition for our team; it will encompass a spirit of global education and the Vincentian mission of the university via the cultural and service opportunities provided for our student-athletes over the course of the two weeks.”
The NCAA allows men’s basketball teams one foreign trip every four years and 10 practices prior to the team’s departure. The last international trip the Red Storm took was in August, 2009, when the squad traveled to Canada for four days.
“It’s a great opportunity for our 15 student-athletes,“ St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said. “The practices prior to our departure have been helpful to jumpstart our teaching progression and implement our system at an earlier stage than usual.
“Equally valuable will be the competitive games in Europe as they will allow our redshirts and transfers to shake the rust off after having sat out this past season. Clearly this foreign tour will be an instructive piece for our staff as we continue building our program. The tour provides our team with an early basketball report card as we move towards the 2013-14 season.”
Father Richard Rock, C.M., university chaplain, will lead the team in a daily reflection as it soaks in the European sites. Notable tour stops include visits to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre Museum in Paris; a guided tour of the Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius archaeological sites as well as Mass at the Cattedrale dei Sante Filippo Giacomo in Sorrento, Italy; visits to the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Sistine Chapel and the Vatican while in Rome; and a soup kitchen service project and Mass at the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
While experiencing the culture is a major part of the European tour, Lavin expects his team’s effort to pick up in anticipation of the season.
“We want to sustain our level of effort, especially at the defensive end of the floor,” he said. “Offensively…sharing the basketball…getting a better sense and feel for one another because we have some new pieces.
“For our staff, it’s an opportunity to see our players against good competition and get a better sense for how to best utilize our personnel. We can come back with our report card in hand and devise a blueprint for the 2013-14 season. Practice is one thing, but when you go up against good competition, it gives you a more accurate barometer of where we are and how to best proceed as we build our team this fall.”
Red Storm fans can stay up-to-date with daily reports, video recaps and photo galleries from the European tour by visiting the new “StormTracker” social media directory at RedStormSports.com.