Loyola gets jump with France trip

'Hounds leave tomorrow to play four club teams

August 18, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Their idyll of summer pickup games abruptly interrupted, those on the Loyola men's basketball team recently forsook the charms of a warm day to run drills at Reitz Arena under the tutelage of coach Dino Gaudio.

Tomorrow, the Greyhounds are headed to France to play four games against club teams over an eight-day period. So players ran their drills with aplomb, smiling more often than not.

Even a chronic ankle sprain couldn't douse the spirits of the team's star player, Jason Rowe, who sat out practice and instead operated the scoreboard in his temporary role of de facto team manager.

For Rowe, a guard who scored nearly 22 points a game last season, the trip offers redemption. The Buffalo, N.Y., native remembers his last trip to France, as a high school sophomore traveling with his AAU team for a tournament. He was disappointed his team lost in the final to a squad from Greece, but he has deeper regrets that he didn't take a camera.

"From last time, I'm working only on memory," Rowe said. "This time, I'm taking two cameras and a camcorder. I want to have the pictures, the video, everything."

Loyola, which had a 13-15 overall record last season and went 6-12 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, will play Fos Provence, Hyres Toulon, Poissy-Yvelines and AS Bondy 93 during its time overseas. Gaudio classified the teams as mid-level professionals, two of which were part of Navy's current tour of Europe.

"These are pro teams, good teams," Gaudio said. "One of the teams there [Hyres Toulon] beat Navy by 24 points, so these are good teams that we're playing."

Programs like Loyola in Division I are allowed to take overseas exhibition trips once every four years. For teams with the money to afford the outlay of $40,000 to $80,000 necessary for such an excursion (with approximately 20 people in the travel party), there comes the opportunity for coaches to evaluate their teams at an early stage.

The Greyhounds have 10 scholarship players returning from last season's team, including four starters. The three incoming freshmen -- center Ronnie Parmer and forwards Delonnie Southhall and Donovan Thomas -- won't go to France because of NCAA rules that prohibit the participation of players who haven't begun to take college classes.

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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