College hoop fans know that the state of North Carolina is part of the nation’s hoops heartland – it’s one of the most basketball-mad locales in the world.
As the global game grows, other nations have found their own epicenters, and Spain — considered to be the greatest challenger to Team USA in the London Olympics — has built a powerful basketball heritage on the sun-drenched shores of the Canary Islands. Graduates of the Canarias Basketball Academy have begun to show up in US college programs with growing regularity.
So, when the N.C. State Wolfpack arranged this summer’s overseas trip, they chose Spain as a logical destination. According to the Wilmington Star-News, Gottfried and company hope to define roles and find chemistry during the trip. It’s a pretty standard line from any team making a summer trip, but the cycle of players ebbing and flowing from any program make the cliche more of a truism.
Instead of going to London to watch the star-studded U.S. national team defend its gold medal, coach Mark Gottfried and his promising young team will be headed for Spain to begin building chemistry for what it hopes will be a championship run of its own.
The 10-day trip, which begins on Aug. 5 and features five exhibition games against professional and club teams from Spain and the Canary Islands, will include its share of sightseeing and cultural exchanges. And the players, many of whom have never been outside this country, are understandably excited about going.
Gottfried has a talented core returning, and he’s hoping to mesh ‘haves’ (his term) — Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie, Scott Wood and Richard Howell — with a slew of ‘have nots’. The Wolfpack made a Sweet 16 run last season, and have a legitimate expectation for more success with four starters returning. This trip to Spain will show them, and us, if the supporting cast is up to the task.