The University of Oklahoma men's basketball team will travel to Europe this summer as part of a 10-day trip in which it will play games against international competition in preparation for the 2013-14 season.
Head coach Lon Kruger's Sooners will depart Oklahoma City on Aug. 6 and will play five contests, the majority of them against teams from Europe's top two professional divisions. OU will return to Oklahoma on Aug. 16.
The Sooners will play their first two games (tentatively scheduled for Aug. 8 and 9) in Ghent, Belgium, before traveling to France where they will play three more contests (scheduled for Aug 11, 14 and 15). The games in France will be held in Normandy and Paris.
OU will also be afforded several sightseeing opportunities, including a tour of Normandy, site of the World War II D-Day invasions of 1944.
"Foreign tour opportunities are not only good from a basketball development standpoint," said Kruger, "but also from a cultural and educational standpoint. To go to Belgium and Paris and Normandy Beach will be a fantastic experience for the guys. It's something they're very excited about.
"As far as the basketball end of things, we've got three players who redshirted last year and several more who are new to the roster. The five games we play will be very beneficial, but probably more important are the 10 days of practice we'll get before we leave Oklahoma. I think the guys are really looking forward to the whole experience."
The NCAA allows basketball teams the opportunity to travel outside the U.S. to face foreign competition once every four years. This will mark the Sooners' third foreign tour. They traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, in 2003 under head coach Kelvin Sampson and to Vancouver, B.C., in 2007 under Jeff Capel. Both trips occurred over Labor Day Weekend and both OU squads went undefeated.
"I think this will be a great experience for our team," said OU senior-to-be Cameron Clark. "It's a chance for us to get an early start on coming together and forming a bond. We lost some key guys from last year and this will give us an opportunity to learn about each other and really start forming team chemistry."
Sophomore Ryan Spangler, a 6-8 sophomore forward who transferred from Gonzaga, said he is particularly anxious for the trip.
"I can't wait," said Spangler, who practiced with the team last year but could not play in games due to NCAA transfer regulations. "By the time August gets here, it will have been about a year and a half since I've played in a game against outside competition. I'm ready for this. All of us are really looking forward to it. It's going to give us the opportunity to learn a lot both on the court and off of it."
The Sooners are coming off a 20-12 season that saw them participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. They finished 11-7 in the Big 12 Conference, tying for fourth place.