Joe Jones is taking his Boston University Terriers to some historic places in 2014-15 and, no, we’re not talking about the pre-Thanksgiving trip to Durham, New Hampshire, to face off with the former America East rival Wildcats.
BU announced its 2014-15 men’s basketball schedule on Monday, and the highlights include a preseason tour of Italy, a nonconference road trip to Kentucky’s Rupp Arena and the season-opening matchup against crosstown rival Northeastern at TD Garden.
Ten days after starting practice Aug. 8, the Terriers will jet to Rome for their first overseas trip since 2007 (when they went to South Korea).
The journey across the Atlantic briefly turned the Terriers’ schedule release into a travel brochure, the section on the trip reading:
Besides facing off against four professional Italian squads (Stella Azzurra Roma, Indiana Pesre, All-Star Vicenza Basket and Fulgor Omegna), the Terriers will take a guided tour of the Colosseum before busing over to Vatican City for tours of St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Other highlights of the trip include seeing the famed Michelangelo's David, touring Venice by boat and spending a day in Lake Como, where the Alps ascend up to 8,500 feet above the crystal clear water.
But after an offseason of intense turnover, the foreign excursion represents more than just a few great photo-ops -- it’s an opportunity to accelerate the acclimation process for the two transfers (Eric Fanning and Blaise Mbargorba) and three freshmen (Nick Havener, Eric Johnson and Cheddi Mosely) who will be added to the mix this season.
"The trip to Italy is a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity for these young men to experience foreign travel and to also immerse themselves in another culture with their teammates," Jones said in a statement. "We are looking forward to defending our Patriot League title, and with the addition of two transfers and three freshmen to the rotation, the extra time spent together before the school year starts will allow everyone to get on the same page in preparation for the regular season.”
After D.J. Irving, Dom Morris and Travis Robinson graduated and star point guard Maurice Watson Jr. transferred to Creighton, John Papale is BU’s leading returning scorer. He averaged 9.3 points per game in 2013-14.
The Terriers ran roughshod through the majority of their first Patriot League slate in 2013-14 before falling short against American in the conference tournament final, missing out on the NCAA tournament. They then lost to Illinois in the first round of the NIT.
Year 2 of Patriot League play will begin Dec. 31 at Holy Cross. The first shot at American comes Jan. 21 in Agganis Arena.
Three teams on BU’s 2014-15 slate won at least one NCAA tournament game (Dayton, Kentucky and Harvard) last season.
The season begins Nov. 16 versus Northeastern at TD Garden, in the second Coaches vs. Cancer tripleheader. The Terriers’ first home game isn’t until Nov. 30, when UMass-Lowell will come to town, five games into the new campaign.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.