<
>

Huskies' trip mixes basketball, culture

SEATTLE -- Lorenzo Romar called Washington’s trip to Europe and Africa a “prelude to the preseason.”

Washington’s coach embarks with his Huskies Saturday on a 15-day trip that will take the team to Spain, France and Senegal.

It will be a chance to work out kinks in the program’s newly implemented high-post offense against European club teams while providing a cultural experience with trips planned to the Eiffel Tower, the Picasso Museum and the Monte Carlo Casino.

“It’s going to be a life experience for them, because they haven’t been out of the states, most of them,” said 7-foot senior center Aziz N’Diaye, who is from Dakar, Senegal.

Romar plans to play the full roster on the trip and, by the time they return, he hopes to have “a little better idea of where we’re going to be this year.”

As important as it has been for the Huskies to take advantage of their 10 practices before the trip and as important as it will be for Washington’s coaching staff to gauge where this team is headed after the seven games scheduled, Romar is looking forward to taking the team to Africa.

It will be a chance for N’Diaye to play in his home city. A chance for his teammates to share cuisine and culture. And a chance go on a safari, put on a basketball clinic and visit Goree Island -- a place that had deep roots in the slave trade.

“I thought, with our tour coming up, it would be great to go there and play a game, let Aziz’s family see who he’s been living with the last few years,” Romar said. “Let them get to know us a little bit in the brief time we’re there, but then give our guys a chance to see what Aziz is all about, see where he’s coming from.

“All of it is going to be good, but that leg of the trip, going to Senegal, is something that is going to put a lot of things in perspective.”

Now that the team’s preparation is complete, Romar called the upcoming games the Huskies’ “exam.”

With each test comes a cultural experience. Not a bad way to wrap up a summer vacation.