WSU Hoops is headed Down Under

WASHINGTON STATE'S HOOPS team is headed Down Under. The Cougs' men's basketball team will travel to Australia early next month for an international tour, WSU announced Thursday in a release.

The Cougs will depart Pullman Aug. 3, arriving in Melbourne on Aug. 5. The jam-packed tour will take the Cougars to four different areas; Melbourne (Aug. 5-8), Sydney (Aug. 8-12), Brisbane/Gold Coast (Aug. 12-14) and Cairns (pronounced Cans) (Aug. 14-16).

Highlights include games against the National Basketball League's (NBL) Melbourne Tigers (Aug. 7 - Melbourne), Wollongong Hawks (Aug. 10 – Sydney) and Cairns Taipans (Aug. 14 – Cairns).

The Tigers represent the state of Victoria and have won four NBL Championships (1993, '97, 2006, and '08). Out of South Wales, the Hawks have won one NBL Championship (2001) and are two-time runners-up, most recently in 2010. The Taipans have were runners-up in 2011.

The Cougars will also play games against the North Invitational Team, an ABA (Australian Basketball Association) team which is currently second in the conference, along with some NBL players to improve the strength of the team, (Aug. 9 – Sydney) and the Brisbane Spartans of the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) (Aug. 13 – Gold Coast).

Along with five games, the team will get a full culture experience along the way. Although still in the tentative planning stages, Washington State is scheduled for activities such as a tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol, a tour of the Sydney Opera House, a trip to Steve Erwin's Crocodile Hunter Zoo, and a visit to the Great Barrier Reef.

"Not only will we have a great opportunity to compete against elite international competition, but we will also have the chance to really experience Australia and different cultures," said Ken Bone in the release. "With three Australians on our team, I think it will be very special for the guys to see more about where their teammates are from, as it will be great for the Aussies to make a trip home and play in front of family and friends.

"I really think this trip is going to help us as a team as we get to know each other better both on and off the court. I can't thank Bill Moos enough for this opportunity."

The NCAA allows teams to travel overseas for a summer tour once every four years. Washington State most recently toured Australia and New Zealand in the June of 2007, the summer between NCAA Tournament appearances under then-head coach Tony Bennett.