Men's Basketball Readies for Return to the Hardwood

July 28, 2005

ORLANDO - The UCF men's basketball team will have the opportunity to tour the globe this summer, as the Golden Knights will embark on European tour in August. While overseas, UCF will compete in five exhibition games against foreign professional teams.

During their tour, which begins Aug. 8, head coach Kirk Speraw's squad will visit Holland, Belgium and France. To prepare for the trip, the team will practice for 10 days on campus, starting Friday.

"The team will benefit from the games and competition, but also get the benefit of 10 days practice prior to the trip," said Speraw. "We will be playing against some good competition. Traveling overseas also helps with the development of team camaraderie and chemistry."

The Golden Knights seven returning letterwinners will make the trip, along with sophomore guards Dave Noel and Mike O'Donnell, who both sat out last season after transferring to UCF. Due to NCAA regulations, the team's newcomers are not able to participate in the tour.

While in Europe, team members will have the chance to explore and sightsee in each country they visit. The squad will start the trip in Amsterdam, Holland followed by a short stop in Brussels, Belgium. UCF will conclude their stay in France, spending time in Paris and Nice before returning home on Aug. 19.

"This trip is a tremendous opportunity from a cultural standpoint. They (the players) get a chance to see a different part of the world," said Speraw. "The players enjoy the opportunity to see different places and to interact with people from different cultures.

The NCAA allows teams to make a foreign trip every four years. The Golden Knights last traveled overseas in 2001, visiting Belgium, Germany and England.

The Golden Knights, who went 24-9 last season and participated in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, open the 2005-06 regular season at home on Nov. 18 against Rollins. Dating back to the start of the 2002-03 campaign, UCF has won 70 contests, a mark that ranks 23rd nationally and first in the state of Florida during that span.

The team will be making its Conference USA debut this year after moving from the Atlantic Sun.

Fans can follow the Golden Knights on their overseas tour by visiting www.UCFathletics.com. The web site will feature game reports as well as photo galleries.