Who, what and where?
See, I really am a journalist. I’m asking some of the basic questions of reporting. Who is Iowa’s men’s basketball team playing on its six-game swing of England and France in August? What do these opponents bring to the table? And where are these games being played?
Like most overseas trips for college basketball teams, the trip is a mixture of high-quality and dubious oppostion, and of venues that would be considered unique in the U.S.
Here’s one tipoff that the London Lions won’t provide the Hawkeyes’ strongest competition of the journey. The game is not being played in front of the public.
Here’s another: The Lions were 13-20 last season in the British Basketball League, good for eighth place out of the 12 teams. The Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders rode to first place with a 20-3 mark.
I don’t recognize a player on the Lions’ roster, but the team has players who played at Western Michigan, Hartford, and Oklahoma City University.
Mike Martin, a 6-foot-7 forward, has been in the BBL since 1998. He has played for the Milton Keynes Lions, the Brighton Bears, the London Leopards, the Thames Valley Tigers, the Scottish Rocks, the Guildford Heat, and now the London Lions. He is 39 years old, which makes him older than Iowa’s Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell combined.
What I like about the London Lions is the names of two of their assistant coaches, Nigel Lloyd and Richard Scantlebury. Now those are Englishmen.
Also, the marketing director is named Lolly Marlborough. Everyone should work with at least one Lolly and one Nigel.
The games against the Lions will be played at Copper Box Arena. What a great name for a venue.
This will be the first time two club teams have square off in Copper Box since the 2012 Summer Olympics. The arena is in Olympic Park. But the games that were played there last year were handball, not basketball.
The venue seats 7.500. That’s a lot of empty seats for Game 1. But Game 2 is open to the public and is …
Game 2 – Wednesday, Aug. 14 vs. London Lions at Copper Box Arena @ 7:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. CT)
Londoner Gabriel Olaseni of the Hawkeyes can play in front of family and friends.
The Lions, meanwhile, are London’s only pro basketball team. They are calling the Copper Box “The Box That Rocks.”
Tickets to this game will range from £9 to £42.
Game 3 – Friday, Aug. 16 vs. AMW All-Stars (Pro A / Pro B players) Stade Pierre de Coubertin, Paris @ 8:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. CT)
I don’t know who or what the AMW All-Stars will consist of, but I know this:
Last Aug. 11, Kansas lost to a club called the AMW France Pro Team, 74-73, at the same arena in which Iowa will play in Paris.
The following day, Kansas lost to the same team, 79-60.
Bill Self didn’t play three seniors or freshman Ben McLemore in that game.
Virginia lost to AMW France last year, 71-67, last Aug. 13, then came back the next day and beat the same team, 82-65.
“The officials, to be polite, were letting guys basically maul each other out there,” said Virginia Coach Tony Bennett. “You just had to play, and you had to be strong with the ball, and you knew when shots went up there was going to be a lot of contact.”
The collegians were playing against pros, and Iowa will do likewise. That will only help the Hawkeyes.
Stade Pierre de Coubertin has seating for 4,835. It certainly seems nice enough.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, by the way, was a founder of the International Olympic Committee.
Game 4 – Saturday, Aug. 17 vs. Saint-Quentin (Pro B team) Stade Pierre de Coubertin, Paris @ 8:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. CT)
Saint-Quentin was 15-19 in France’s Pro B League. That was good for 12th-place in the 18-team league.
I don’t think this will be a team that rivals the AMW All-Stars, but who knows? It will be Iowa’s fourth game in five nights in two of the world’s great cities.
Saint-Quentin is a veteran club, based by its starting five at the end of the 2012-2013 season., on April 30. Three of the starters finished their American college careers at Akron, San Jose State and Old Dominion, respectively, between 2000 and 2003.
Former Iowa player J.R. Koch played two games for Saint-Quentin in the 2001-2002 season.
Game 5 – Monday, Aug. 19 vs. Hyeres-Toulon (Palais des Sports de Toulon; Toulon, France) @ 6 p.m. (11 a.m. CT)
Hyeres-Toulon is also a France Pro B team. It was tied with Saint-Quentin at 15-19.
Last season, Hyeres-Toulon featured Terence Dials, a 6-foot-9, 260-pounder who helped Ohio State to the 2006 Big Ten title.
I have absolutely no memory of this, but Dials was the Big Ten’s consensus Player of the Year. He averaged 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds for the Buckeyes.
Dials has played for teams in Cyprus, China, Taiwan, and now France. He averaged 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds in 23 games for Hyeres-Toulon.
Oh, wait. Dials left Hyeres-Toulon and went to France’s Pro A league with Orleans.
Toulon is on the southern coast of France, in Provence. It’s a port city of about 165,000 people. There are worse places to visit than Provence.
Palais des Sports de Toulon looks, well, palatial.
Game 6 – Tuesday, Aug. 20 vs. Fos Ouest Provence (Halle des Sports Parsemain, Fos-Sur-Mer, France) @ 6 p.m. (11 a.m. CT)
The Hawkeyes will keep moving, with their sixth game in eight days, and in four venues.
Fos Ouest tied for fourth in the Pro B league with a shiny 21-13 record. John Williamson, the University of Cincinnati’s Most Valuable Player in the 2006-07 season, averaged 15.4 points for Fos Ouest last season.
If you were going to play pro ball overseas, Provence would have to be one of the best places on Earth to do it.
Fos-sur-Mer is on the Mediterranean coast, 111 kilometers from Toulon. It has six kilometers of beach and a population of about 16,000.
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