July 31, 2015
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By JIL PRICE
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team will hop a 9 ½ hour flight overseas on Aug. 11, but its journey to Italy officially began Wednesday afternoon. The 2015-16 Hawkeye roster of 14 gathered on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first of 10 team practices leading up to the trip.
“It feels great to be back in the gym,” 16th-year head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Our focus, communication, and intensity were good. We’ve been doing one-hour workouts and it’s a big jump to three hours, but they maintained their focus well.”
“It feels good to be back in full swing,” senior co-captain Kali Peschel said. “This is what we’ve been working for all summer. We’ve been looking forward to these 10 practices before going overseas, and it’s exciting to get back in the gym with the whole team.”
Iowa will spend 11 days on its Italian Tour, where it will compete in three exhibition games against Dream Team Italian Select, Asd Pallacanestro Muggia, and TK Hannover. The team will also have the opportunity to sightsee, take in the beauty of the Italian countryside, and experience another culture.
“Seeing the world with these girls is what I’m most looking forward to,” freshman Megan Gustafson said of her first trip overseas. “Playing basketball in that environment will be fun as well. I’m excited.”
Peschel, who studied abroad in Spain earlier this summer, is looking forward to making memories overseas again; this time with her Hawkeye teammates.
“The whole time I was thinking, I wish my teammates were here doing this with me,” Peschel said. “I’m looking forward to sharing these experiences and making great memories with my best friends.”
After losing a trio of starting seniors last season, the Hawkeyes are looking to fuse the roster, which includes eight underclassmen, on the trip.
“We’re getting more time together, and when you get more time together there is going to be more bonding opportunities,” Gustafson said. “Working together will be easier when the regular season comes.”
Bluder says the timing of the foreign trip, which occurs every four years, couldn’t be better.
“The timing is perfect,” Bluder said. “We have eight freshmen and sophomores on our team, so any extra practice we get is important to the success of our team this year. When you get 10 extra practices, that is significant. We only have 30 practices to get ready for our first game. Now we have 40, and it couldn’t have come at a better year.
“Also when you travel you build bonds, memories, and experiences together. That comradery when you have so many young players can be hard to form, but being thrown into an overseas situation escalates that process.”
Fans can follow the Hawkeyes as they compete and immerse themselves in another culture at hawkeyesports.com. Daily reports, photo galleries, video content, player blogs, audio commentary, and game recaps will be available.
“I look forward to taking players to places they’ve never been before,” Bluder said. “You may have been there before, but when you take someone new there it’s like doing it all over again. Seeing it through their eyes and being able to expose them to something they may never get to do again is great.”
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