With hopes to gain experience, bond together as a team and learn what the culture and environment is like overseas, the University of Utah men’s basketball team will embark on a 10-day tour through Europe. The Runnin’ Utes take off on Saturday, Aug. 5 to go sightseeing and play basketball on a trip that will take them through Barcelona, Spain and Paris, France.
“It’s kind of a bucket list deal,” said Utah men’s basketball head coach Larry Krystkowiak. ”It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. I think it’s going to trickle into a lot of different areas and it’s just super beneficial in a lot of ways.”
The Runnin’ Utes will play three games over the span of its 10-day tour. Both games one and two will be played in Spain with game three in Paris. Utah’s first matchup will be Monday, Aug. 7 against the Sant Julià All-Stars before it takes on Dax Gamarde Basketball Club two days later. The final contest on the Runnin’ Utes tour will be played in Paris on Saturday, Aug. 12 against a team that is yet to be announced.
Playing against international teams will allow Utah to witness something new and experience how the game is different overseas. From the 24-second shot clock, further three-point line and the referring and calls, the Runnin’ Utes will have to adjust to the style of play and tempo during their tour.
Krystkowiak played three straight summers during college as a member of a United States team where he visited Korea, Spain and Barcelona. He gained a new perspective on life through those opportunities, and he is looking forward to his team being able to do the same.
“It’s pretty neat when you see how we’re all creatures of habit,” Krystkowiak said. “And then you realize that there’s a lot of different ways to do things and a lot of people are living in different environments and the culture. They’ll all reflect on it and it’ll probably effect each of them a little bit differently.”
Utah will visit La Sagrada Familia, LaBoqueria Food Market, the Barceloneta boardwalk and Cambrils while in Barcelona. In Paris the team will see the Latin Quarter, the Eiffel Tower and the Montmartre District.
Note only is this an opportunity to learn more about basketball and life, but this is also a time for the Runnin’ Utes to represent the soil they live on. Utah held a three-hour clinic session before departing on its European Tour. The meeting was on media and what to do, what not to do and what it means to represent their high school, college, state and country.
“At the end of the day, each of us have a brand,” Krystkowiak said. “Whether you know it or not, you have an identity and a brand. Making a mistake can be a lifelong problem for you when it comes to representing that brand. This is a little bigger than that. Really around here we’re not representing the United States, but on a bigger stage, we go over there and we don’t want to be ugly Americans.”
Working on building and strengthening the team on and off the court is something Utah is hoping to take advantage of as they’ll be together 24 hours a day for 10 days in a row. The Runnin’ Utes have welcomed new faces to the program this season and they feel that this trip can help bring everyone together – returner or not – before their season begins.
“I think the biggest thing is for us to bond and get to know each other as people, as teammates,” said junior Sedrick Barefield. “I think that’s what we’re looking forward to the most.”