BYU Basketball Cougars Down Under

BYU's highly anticipated 2003-2004 basketball team start their season early, thanks to an NCAA policy that allows college teams to take one summer-time overseas trip every four years.

The team's destination is Australia, land of koalas and wombats, where the Cougars will face Aussie "professional" teams on the court. It will be an extraordinary experience, and not just because the team will be playing on the other side of the world.

The sightseeing stops and the b-ball court action begins August 13 with the Cougars suiting up for four games in four grueling days, plus a fifth game two days later, allowing two days to rest up.

We will do our best at to keep you informed.

The Cougars' itinerary clearly indicates they will be playing against "professional" opponents, so we aren't sure what to expect. This mini-invasion of our tall Blue heroes into Aussie territory can only be good preparation for the upcoming hoop season.

Australia is on the other side of the International Dateline, so subtract one day from whatever day it is in Australia to get the U.S. date.

The Aussie "professional" league teams include players of college age, which lowers the formidable opponent bar a couple of notches. On the other hand, there is also some former U.S. college stars playing there that didn't make the NBA cut.

Our second game, against AIS (Australian Institute of Sports), will have the Cougars facing off against a team that includes Utah signee Andrew Bogut. That might be a preview of stateside contests to come during the next two years when the Cougars face Bogut again in a Utah red uniform.

Now a few details, mostly for fans that live in Australia, that want to pick up one or more of these games.

8/13 – Wednesday – BYU vs. the Hunter Pirates (Sydney area): This game will be played at Gosford City Sports Arena, Duffy's Road, Terrigal, NSW, with tip-off at 7 p.m. For more information about tickets, prices, etc., phone (02) 4385 3577.

The Pirates are a new team joining the league this year. This will be their first-ever game.

8/14 – Thursday – BYU vs. AIS/Australian Institute of Sports (Sydney area): This game will be played at Alexandria Basketball Stadium, 53-57 Maddox Street, Alexandria, NSW with tip-off at 6:30 p.m. For more information about tickets, prices, etc., phone (02) 9699 3822.

This game will be the first half of a double-header that will pit another NCAA traveling team, the University of Iowa, facing the Sydney Kings. The AIS team we will be facing includes Andrew Bogut, who will be playing for the Utes this year. He recently led Australia to first place in the World Championships. That's a little upsetting; USA (comprised of college players only)didn't even medal in this event!

The AIS team includes a 7-3 center. It looks like this team will be one of the best the Cougars will face on the trip. This is a team that is currently still involved in the professional play-offs. Can you imagine the Jazz or the Lakers playing an exhibition game DURING the playoffs?

8/15 – Friday – Cougars vs. the Brisbane Bullets (Brisbane area): This game will be played at Sleeman Sports Complex, Old Cleveland & Tilly Roads, Chandler, with tip-off at 8:30 p.m. For more information about tickets, prices, etc., phone (07) 3131 9611.

This match-up is the second game of a double header involving the Arizona State women's team.

8/16 – Saturday – Cougars vs. SEQ Invitational Black (Brisbane area) This game will be played at Boondal Sports Center, Melualeuca Drive, Boondal, with tip-off at 7:30 p.m. For more information about tickets, prices, etc., phone (04) 0324 4114.

This is the second game of a double header involving the Bullets and SEQ Invitational Red. The following day, Iowa will play the Bullets. I'm guessing these "invitational" teams are the product of some sort of All-Star selection process, but I haven't been able to ferret out a definitive answer.

8/19 – Tuesday – Cougars vs. the Kuyiam Pride (Brisbane area)

This game will be played in the Cairns area at Fretwell Park, Robert Road, Edmonton. For more information about tickets, prices, etc., phone (61 7) 3237 9906.

The Pride is a team that came in middle of the pack in their professional league, but recently beat up on the team that came in No. 1.

In the land down under, people are measured in centimeters and kilograms on Australian team rosters. Here is how some BYU players measure up:

Dan Howard is 213 centimeters tall, while Terry Nashif is 178. Rafael Araujo and Jake Shoff weigh 120 kilograms, while Nashif weighs 75 kilograms.

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