Huskies Embrace Culture, Academics On European Basketball Tour
Aug. 28, 2011
COPENHAGEN - The goal of this European Tour, of course, was to play a series of exhibition games in a foreign environment. Yet the experiences outside of basketball will be something to remember forever.
During this trip to the Scandinavian countries, the Washington women's basketball team has visited cathedrals, museums, and sculpture garden. The Huskies have soaked in the view high above Oslo, with the city's iconic ski jumping venue looming in the background. They rode bikes through Stockholm and posed for pictures in front of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. A walk through downtown Oslo provided a sobering reminder to the shooting tragedies on July 22, 2011.
These are the types of experiences available to student-athletes who compete for the University of Washington. The 10 days the Huskies will spend in a few of Europe's most picturesque capitals offered not only the opportunity to play basketball abroad, but a window into a new culture and academic enrichment.
Throughout the journey, the Huskies have also been engaged in a course of study that examines Norse mythology and Northern European folktales. While on a tour of Copenhagen, the team learned about Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote the popular fable. Then the team visited the statue, one of the premier tourist attractions in the city, adding a unique texture to the experience.
Classes were held on campus leading up to the trip, with professor James Clauss, the director of the UW honors program, leading the lectures. There are readings, and the students are required to write several essays in addition to keeping a journal. There will also be a final oral presentation on their experiences. During the morning, the Huskies meet in hotel lobbies to go over their assignments. On the eight-hour bus ride from Stockholm to Oslo, the team held class on the back of the bus.
From a basketball perspective, the Huskies are beginning to coalesce as a group. The team is 3-0, although results are meaningless on this trip. First-year coach Kevin McGuff would like to see his team learn his belief system, a process that will pay dividends when the regular season rolls around. But this group of Huskies has already begun to embrace aspects of McGuff's up-tempo style on the court, pushing the ball into the attacking zone while also increasing the pressure on the defensive end. McGuff has played the entire roster throughout the trip, experimenting with different player combinations to gauge strengths and weaknesses.
The Huskies have also shared their basketball knowledge, leading a clinic for around 75 youths in Norway. For two hours, the Huskies taught basketball fundamentals and played games with children from the Asker neighborhood, a suburb of Oslo. Afterward, the team signed autographs for around half an hour.
UW will next take on the Danish national team on Monday night in nearby Horsholm. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. It's the penultimate game of the trip, one that has offered an understanding of the world far beyond just basketball.