IOWA CITY — Men’s college basketball teams that go on international trips in the summer are better in the following winter.
That isn’t a theory. Two years ago, The Sporting News did a random sample of 27 teams that took such tours between 2006 and 2010. Teams won an average of two more games than in the season before the trip. Teams that traveled in the summer of 2010 averaged 23.3 wins in the 2010-11 season, up from 21.1 the season before.
Iowa is going overseas next week. Programs can only do it once every four years under NCAA rules, and this is the Hawkeyes’ year. So they’re headed to England and France for a total of six games, with a veteran team buffeted by the additions of freshman Peter Jok and 2012-13 red-shirts Jarrod Uthoff and Kyle Meyer.
You would expect the Hawkeyes will be better than an NIT team next season simply because of their experience and added depth. But this jaunt to London, Paris and Provence can only help.
“We’ll try to do what we do and perfect what we do with this present roster,” McCaffery said Monday.
There will be plenty of experimentation. Lineups will constantly be shuffled. Six games is more than are played on most foreign trips, and the games will be jammed into an 8-day period in four different cities. Which is NBA-like.
“It’s purely the result of the fact that I have a lot of guys I want to get minutes for,” said McCaffery. “I didn’t want to go over there and play a small number of games and not having guys get enough playing time.
“There might be games where I don’t play certain guys much at all. Maybe (Devyn) Marble and (Aaron) White play hardly at all in a game over there. I want to be able to leave Gabe (Olaseni) and (Adam) Woodbury together on the floor for long periods of time.
“That said, you don’t know how fatigue is going to play into that. I might have that in mind, and halfway through the game I have to sub anyway because they’re exhausted.”
If anybody has a reason to get gassed, it would be Uthoff and White. Uthoff is fresh off a 3-game trip to Estonia on a team called the East Coast All-Stars, which featured seven players from the conference formerly known as the Big East. Among Uthoff’s teammates was Louisville star guard Russ Smith.
Was it fun?
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’ll say that,” Uthoff replied. “It was a good experience, playing against professional players.
“But I couldn’t be more excited going with my teammates for basketball and the team-bonding experience.”
White said seven days of tryouts and eight games in 18 days in Kazan, Russia was “Grueling. It was a learning curve. Everything was new.
“I’m very comfortable with my role here with the guys and coaches. This trip will be a totally different event, a totally different feel.”
The Hawkeyes are allowed 10 days of practice with their team in Iowa City before the trip under NCAA rules. The trick is to avoid basketball burnout this winter.
“We’re not going to have crazy 4-hour practices in September and October,” McCaffery said. “We’ll space it out and I’ll make sure I get them to where we’re playing our best basketball in February and March, and that they still have their legs.
“I want them to work (on this trip), I want them to grow as a team. But I want them to have fun. I want it to be a trip that they remember for the rest of their lives.”
Oh, one more thing: Iowa’s all-time winningest team was the 1986-87 squad that went 30-5. It had a lot of talent and depth. It also went on an overseas trip the summer before that season.