Des Moines was of course very cold with about 6 inches of snow falling on the third night. Most of the guys had never seen snow, so that was a great experience as the snow continued to fall throughout the next morning, prompting a full scale snowball fight which was a fun start to the day.
We had a free day on the day after arrival and were able to train at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) at Boone, some 30 minutes from Des Moines. This helped stretch the legs and get the guys in the right mindset.
Iowa And Kansas City
We played a total of 5 games in Iowa and 1 in Kansas City against:
- Grand View College
- Iowa Western
- Southwest College
- Simpson College: JV
- Penn Valley
These were mainly Junior Colleges playing in various divisions and Conferences. The standard of these teams was very good, and somewhat better than we were expecting, with every team having at least a couple of very good players.
A lot of good players who have perhaps struggled with their grades will attend Juco’s in order to improve their grades and therefore seek a scholarship offer from a 4 Year School. Consequently, we were continually playing against players who were being offered full scholarships from some Division One 4 Year Schools such as Oregon State, Georgetown etc.
Every team that we played were training 7 days a week with each training session tough and intense. We encountered several Australian guys who were on scholarships and pretty happy to catch up with a bunch of Aussies for a chat. They all mentioned how intense the trainings were. It is something that we need to address in Australia, we need our guys to be intense throughout the entire game.
The things that really stood out and were significant about these players:
They were all extremely athletic and would simply jump over our guys, particularly if you did not block out properly.
Their defensive pressure was intense, especially on the ball, getting their hands in on any opportunity for a deflection or a steal, pressure that our guys were not used to.
Their shooting was excellent with every team hitting a high percentage from the 3 pt line. A lot of their guards were 6’4” or so, athletic and then great shooters as well.
They all drive hard to the basket and getting a charging foul called is nigh on impossible which makes defending them difficult.
What made it hard for us, was that our guys were all studying, mostly at University, they all had part-time jobs, were playing once or sometimes twice a week, but were only training once a week. Consequently, the shooting and the intensity compared to them were real issues for us initially.
On the positive, we were competitive in every game and we saw substantial improvement in each player during the Tour as the Tour progressed and as they got used to what level of play was required. We did encounter a couple of seven-footers, one at Prep School who was 7’3” and only 15 years old and the other who was heading for Georgetown.
Iowa and Kansas City were great for the basketball but the weather restricted sightseeing apart from shopping which was very popular with the guys. Driving in snow conditions also requires care.
We then flew to Florida spending 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale where we played against Broward College. We also managed to catch a College game in Miami: Miami Hurricanes v Illinois.
Bradenton And Orlando
That was a great experience and really enjoyable. We moved on to Bradenton and then Orlando, playing another 4 games against:
- Victory Rock Prep.
- West Oaks Academy: 3 Teams.
The West Oaks games were part of a tournament. Prep schools are year 13 High Schools and fulfill the same purpose as Juco’s in regard to improving grades. These schools also train daily and all had some real quality players, particularly shooters.
Orlando, of course, is all things Disney as well as a number of other attractions and the guys had a great time checking them out once the basketball had finished. Regrettably, due to our own scheduling and the NBA/College schedules as well, we were not able to get to any other NBA or College games other than in Miami. This was the only downside to the tour.
One very positive factor about touring in the US is the remarkably low cost of food and beverage. All meals are inexpensive with many establishments offering breakfast (eggs & bacon etc) for $4 with bottomless juice and coffee and good burgers and chips in restaurants from $7. Decent motel accommodation is also well priced and often includes breakfast. I could not recommend a USA Basketball Tour highly enough. It was truly a life-changing experience for our guys and something that they will remember and treasure for the rest of their lives.
One real highlight for us was that several of our boys attracted serious interest from College Scouts and are currently comparing several offers from various schools for full scholarships. There is great interest over there in playing Australian Teams and checking out Aussie Players.
Tour Organiser – Malcolm Simpson
Note: If you are interested in undertaking a tour, then please contact us for some more detailed information on 0417 390 939 or email us at Sales@globalstarholidays.com.au.
USA Basketball Tours
If your school or club is considering undertaking a Basketball Tour to the USA, please email Sales@globalstarholidays.com.au or call us on 0417 390 939 to discuss or request a copy of our flyer and brochure. Global Star Basketball Tour would be delighted to assist you with your tour itinerary planning. If you are unsure about undertaking a tour then read carefully the “10 Reasons to go on a Global Star Basketball Tour” on the right-hand side of this newsletter.