Basketball team takes game to Europe

Published 9:08 pm Friday, August 14, 2009

The Troy Trojans men’s basketball team returned home from a weeklong tour of Europe Tuesday.

The trip gave the Trojans opportunities to not only learn more from a basketball standpoint, but from a cultural standpoint as well.

“What a trip, what an experience,” head coach Don Maestri said. “There were many great experiences, but I think the thing that stands out the most to me was that it was a great educational experience. The basketball experience was good, but I think for our team and our coaches and our support people the educational portion was tremendous.”

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Maestri said the opportunity to experience some of Europe’s finest traditions was one he would savor.

“To me as a whole from the time we stepped off the plane, when we watched someone make wooden shoes and cheese and all the farm lands we went through – from that until the final boat tour at night in Paris when we saw the ‘City of Lights’, it was just a great experience,” Maestri said.

A trip such as the one that the Trojans embarked on will undoubtedly leave long-lasting memories with players and coaches alike.

“I think even us coaches as we get away from it, the more we will appreciate it,” Maestri said. I know the players will appreciate it more the older they get.”

While the cultural and educational experiences of the trip were important, Troy also played four games of basketball while in Europe.

The opportunity for more practice and more game experience was one that Maestri said helped the team.

“The practice time, trying some new things out we wanted to see, Trayce Macon and Bernard Toombs putting a uniform back on after redshirting and playing four games was a positive,” Maestri said. “There were some good things that happened basketball-wise.”

Troy won all four games that it played in Europe, facing off against such teams as the Urk Orcas of Amsterdam, the Meppel Red Giants of Amsterdam and St. Jan basketball in Ghent, Belgium.

Troy’s performance was helped by the fact that The Trojans were accustomed to the European style of play, thanks in large part to having implemented a European-style offense last season.

“It wasn’t that big of a change for our style of basketball,” Maestri said. “The style of play we use is very European with lots of spacing and trying to dribble attack people then pass out after the defense collapses. It’s more of an outside game over there than it is a throw it inside to a big guy and let him pound it out game.”

Troy’s so-called “Big Three” of Brandon Hazzard, Michael Vogler and Richard Delk all made major contributions in the games.

Hazzard scored 94 points over the four games, while also pulling down eight rebounds and recording 10 assists

Vogler scored 45 points, but had 12 rebounds, 20 assists and 16 steals.

Delk had 48 points while also pulling down 21 rebounds, dishing 11 assists, blocking two shots and swiping 14 steals.

One of the positions of need on the 2009-10 Troy team will be center, where Toombs and Macon will be counted on to produce after redshirting during the 2008-09 season.

Both Toombs and Macon were certainly productive on both ends of the floor while in Europe.

Toombs scored 34 points and led the team in rebounds with 45.

Macon also scored 34 points, but only had 17 rebou nds.

Another player who stood out in Europe was Travis Lee. Lee scored 58 points in the four European games.

Despite the added basketball experience the trip gave the Trojans, Maestri said the biggest moment for him came in Amsterdam at the home of Anne Frank.

“I’ve watched a lot and read a lot on World War II and the Nazi’s, but to actually be there and to get the feeling of how terrible this must have been was moving,” Maestri said. “Being in the exact same house they were in made me re-read the book. I would say that is the biggest moment for me from the trip.”

While the trip may be over, the team will never forget their experiences, both educational and otherwise, in Europe.

“This truly was a trip of a lifetime,” Maestri said.

Additional reporting was done by Taylor Bryan and Alyson Steed, both of