STARKVILLE, Miss. – With the anticipation building for the 2014-15 season, Mississippi State will get a jump on the campaign as it heads overseas for a tour of France and Belgium Aug. 4-14.
Third-year head coach Vic Schaefer returns eight veterans, including five players who started 20 or more games a year ago, from a squad that posted a 22-14 record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT.
Combine that experience with a heralded Top 20 recruiting class, and the excitement level for Hail State Hoops is at an all-time high.
“Our returnees are improved and our new kids bring a skill set that is a breath of fresh air for our returnees,” Schaefer said. “I’m excited about the potential of this team. We have a long way to go, but they are a fun group that comes in here with a great attitude and works hard.”
The opportunity has given the squad practice time together before embarking on the trip, which includes four games in a six-day span.
State arrives in Paris Tuesday and buses to its first destination, Ghent, Belgium.
On the first day in Ghent, the Bulldogs will have the opportunity to see some of the sights, including Gravensteen Castle, which was built in 1180, and St. Bavo Cathedral, which houses the 15th century polyptych, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.
“It’s going to be a great educational experience for our team. We are thankful our administration is providing us this opportunity,” Schaefer said. “This will be a once in a lifetime experience for these kids, and it will enhance our program as well with the team bonding that takes place.”
State wraps the first full day with a game against Sparta Laarne at 12:30 p.m. CST.
The Bulldogs conclude the final day in Belgium with a trip to Brugge before returning to Ghent for a contest against Waregem Basket in a 1:15 p.m. CST tip.
On Friday the Dawgs head to Paris and will have the opportunity to sightsee before taking on AMW Select at 11 a.m. CST.
“The competition will be different and it will be physical. It’s an off time for their professional athletes, so it’s been hard to get some really good teams together,” Schaefer said. “There will be an All-Star Game one night, so that will be a very good game for us.”
For the final day in Paris the team will get to visit some of the most well-known sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre before wrapping the day with a trip to Bateaux Mouche for a tour of the River Seine.
State will leave Paris Sunday and head to Lyon. The following day the team will enjoy the city before venturing to Aoste for its final game of the trip, a 1 p.m. CST contest against Union Basket.The team finishes the trip with a day on the coast in Nice before heading to take in the sights and smells of perfume factories in Monaco and Monte Carlo.