Men's basketball prepares for Europe trip
Men's basketball prepares for Europe trip
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nittany Lion basketball embarks on a six-night European tour Saturday (Aug. 10) afternoon that will see Penn State play three games. During the trip, the Nittany Lions will visit Belgium, France, England and the Netherlands.
Penn State will be based in Mechelen, Belgium outside of Brussels. The Nittany Lions are slated to play three games against Belgian squads Okapi Aalstar 2 (Aug. 12, 2:30 p.m. ET), St Jan (Aug. 13, 2:30 p.m. ET) and Dutch side Binnenland (Aug. 15, 1:30 p.m. ET). Game sites will be announced closer to tip-off.
In addition to Brussels and Mechelen, the Nittany Lions will visit the historic Belgian cities of Bruges and Antwerp along with day trips to Paris and London. The team will return stateside on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Okapi Aalstar 2 (17-11) finished fourth in Belgium's Ethias League, which is the highest tier of pro basketball in the country, falling in the league semifinals. Aalstar is led by former Gonzaga standout Derek Raivio, who was named Ethias League Guard of the Year and earned first-team honors. John Tofi, formerly of UTEP, and Chris Young, formerly of Michigan, each garnered second-team All-League accolades for Aalstar. Other notable Americans on the team are second-round Miami Heat draft pick Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia '10) and Travis Releford, who just graduated from Kansas this May.
St Jan of Antwerp finished in a tie for second in the Belgium's Division II. Led by Mario Brown, a 2006 graduate Jacksonville, St Jan went 16-12 last season. Penn State wraps up its play against the All-Dutch team Binnenland, a Promotiedivisie team (second division). Binnenland (19-8) finished fourth last year and qualified for the promotional playoffs winning its semifinal matchup before falling in the championship game.
Penn State welcomes back 2011-12 All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas), who returns for a fifth year of eligibility following a season-ending Achilles tendon injury on Nov. 18, 2012. During his junior year in 2011-12, Frazier led the Big Ten in assists (6.2 per game) and was second in scoring (18.8 points per game).
Junior guard D.J. Newbill (Philadelphia, Pa.) is the top returning scorer for the Nittany Lions following an honorable mention All-Big Ten season where he finished fifth in scoring (16.3 points per game) and assists (4.0 per game). Newbill was PSU's floor general in Frazier's absence, logging a team-high 36.5 minutes per game.
Junior forward Ross Travis (Chaska, Minn.) returns as the second-leading rebounder in the Big Ten following a 2012-13 campaign that saw him pull down 7.4 boards a game along with three double-doubles in the final seven contests.
Sophomore forward Brandon Taylor (Tabernacle, N.J.) will be vital to the Nittany Lions following his 31-appearance, 18-start season a year ago. Taylor canned 32 three-pointers and averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a freshman.
Added to the fold is graduate student transfer Allen Roberts (Middletown, Ohio) who is a high-caliber addition to Patrick Chambers' arsenal. Roberts suits up for the Blue and White following a four-year career at Miami University (Ohio), leading the RedHawks in scoring last season (12.3 points per game). Roberts redshirted his junior season in 2011-12 due to a knee injury. Roberts earned his bachelor's degree in family studies at MU.
Key freshmen ready to contribute and get a head start on the 2013-14 season are Geno Thorpe (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Graham Woodward (Edina, Minn.). Both student-athletes averaged better than 26 points per game in their final prep seasons, while forwards Payton Banks (Orange, Calif.) and Julian Moore (Fort Washington, Pa.) are expected to compete for early playing time.
NITTANY LION EUROPEAN TOUR GAME SCHEDULE
Monday, Aug. 12: Okapi Aalstar, 2:30 p.m. ET (at Generali Forum; Aalst, Belgium)
Tuesday, Aug. 13: St Jan Antwerpen, 2:30 p.m. ET (at Sporthal Arena; Antwerp, Belgium)
Thursday, Aug. 15: Binneland, 1:30 p.m. ET (at Sporthal de Driesprong; Brenderlecht, Netherlands
Note: Belgium is six hours ahead of Pennsylvania