Lost in the excitement of the looming football season, the Tiger basketball team concluded a ten-day, four match exhibition tour in Spain Wednesday with a 101-77 win over FC Barcelona Silver.
LSU dropped its opening match against the Dominican Republic national team, ranked 18th in FIBA’s world rankings, on August 15, put reeled off three straight wins over the Valencia All-Stars, Barcelona All-Stars and Barcelona Silver. LSU scored more than 100 points in each of the three wins. LSU flew back to Baton Rouge Thursday with classes beginning on this upcoming Monday.
The results of these exhibition games are largely meaningless, though it’s worth noting Skylar Mays absolutely yammed it on some poor soul for the Valencia All-Stars, while Marlon Taylor was held out from playing after having foot surgery.
These trips abroad allow for ten extra days of practice, similar to the 15 extra practices football teams get for bowl games. Because Will Wade has an experienced returning backcourt in Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart, the duo only played about 15 minutes in the four games. The bulk of the minutes were primarily for incoming players like true freshmen Trendon Watford and James Bishop, and reserves from last season that are expected to be starters in 2019 like sophomore forwards Emmitt Williams and Darius Days. Wade used four different starting lineups in all four games.
College programs taking late summer trips abroad isn’t a new development, but its prevalence took off at the start of the decade when incoming freshmen were cleared to practice and travel with teams upon completing summer classes. In 2014, Kentucky made headlines with an eight-night trip to the Bahamas that cost nearly $800,000. Last summer Duke played a three-game exhibition stretch in Canada.
NCAA rules allow for schools to take a foriegn trip once every four years. Dozens of schools are on, or have completed its trip abroad, including fellow SEC program Texas A&M and in-state school McNeese State.