Tanaeya Boclair driving the lane on Tuesday, Nov 17,2015. Photo by Chris Ayers.

With a new season for the University of Utah women’s basketball team drawing near, the Utes are hoping to gain experience for their upcoming year when they embark on a 10-day trip to Italy on Saturday, Aug. 5.

The Italy tour is intended to help the Utes from a basketball standpoint and an educational standpoint. They will have the chance to explore cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice and Como, while also learning about the variety of cultures that are represented overseas. The Utes will also experience what it’s like to play against national and club teams as they are scheduled to compete in three games.

“This is a great opportunity for our program,” said Utah women’s basketball head coach Lynne Roberts. “Not many teams get the opportunity to have extra practices in the summer, so our number one goal is to get a head start on our competition. We’re allowed to have 10 practices this summer leading up the trip and if we really utilize the time that we’ll have together in those practices and the time we have in Italy, by the time we start the season, we should be tweaking instead of teaching.”

For the Utes to be able to come together like this early in the year helps with the chemistry aspect of the game and that’s something senior Emily Potter said she is looking forward to the most — learning and growing together.

“This is a great opportunity for us as a team to really get a head start in bonding,” Potter said. “We’ll get to know the freshman more and the other new players will have the opportunity to not have to think about school or anything else and can just focus on the team and each other so that when the season comes were ready to go.”

The Utes will first play in Florence on Aug. 9 against TK Hannover from Germany. TK Hannover competes in the Damen-Basketball-Bundesliga which is the premier women’s basketball league in the country. They will then face ASD Pallacanestro Inter Club Muggia of Italy on Aug. 12 in the Pala Sport Aguilinia before their final game against FSG Academy from Holland on Aug. 14 at the Costa Masnaga Sport Center.

“Playing against these teams will give us a good indicator for how our team is looking,” Roberts said. “We’ll be able to see how we’ll look and where we’re at, so that when we come home we know what we need to work on to get ready for the season.”

During the tour, the team will have the chance to visit different historic landmarks including the Trevi Fountain, Piazza De Spagna, the Pantheon and the Colosseum in Rome, Vatican City, Florence and the Italian Alps in Como.

“This trip will be a great learning experience for our players,” Roberts said. “They’ll have the opportunity to see and go places that a lot of people don’t get to do. They’ll learn about different cultures and cities and learn about the history of the cities. It’s an invaluable experience for all of us.”

As the Utes prepared for Italy, Roberts asked each player to study a different aspect of their trip, whether that be a city or a landmark, and come prepared to share what they learned with the rest of team so they can learn from each other.

“Learning about the cultures before I even go there has given me a better understanding of what’s out there in the world,” Potter said. “It’s really eye-opening to learn about cultures other than your own. I feel like its really made me and will make all of us more well-rounded people.”

s.funk@dailyutahchronicle.com

@scottfunk0

Scott Funk is currently interning as a sports writer for The Daily Utah Chronicle. He completed an internship with Cumulus Media before writing for The Globe at Salt Lake Community College. He also recently completed an internship with ESPN 700.

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