Personal file: the positive impact of foreign tours

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Successful teams generally get along well. Sometimes, a significant experience bonds the group. Nurturing the team aspect is tricky, especially when a lot of new faces are integrated.

The 2012 Iowa State men’s basketball team will feature nine players, who have never played in a college game for the Cyclones. It’s a combination of transfers and new recruits.

Coach Fred Hoiberg and his club will travel this August to Italy for 4-5 games  against local professional teams. The Cyclones also get 10 practices before the tour.

"This trip will definitely give us a head start," Hoiberg said, "and the big thing is the 10 extra days of practice."

A by-product of the trip is the amount of time they’ll spend with one another while touring and playing. International trips often set the table for future success. I’m familiar with three such trips personally.

While I was serving as the men’s basketball SID at Iowa in the mid-1980s, the Hawkeyes travelled to China in advance of Tom Davis’ first season as head coach. Iowa went 30-5 that season and Davis felt the overseas trip kick started the process.

My wife is the former Sports Information Director at Illinois and one of the teams she worked with went to Australia in 1999. The Illini had won 14 games in the season before the trip. After a couple of weeks together in Australia, Illinois returned home and went onto earn an NCAA Tournament berth.

In the fall of 2007, after Drake’s Tom Davis had passed the coaching baton to his son (Keno), the Bulldogs took a four-game tour of the Bahamas. Drake, which was 17-15 in 2006-07 gained some momentum from their trip and recorded a school-record 28 wins in Keno’s first season. The development of Adam Emmenecker (the eventual Valley Player of the Year) came during the trip.

There are no guarantees of on-court success after foreign trips. But, my personal experience with these tours is surely a positive indicator.

Email feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

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