Tyler Griffey Enjoys Another Trip To Europe

When three Illini made the trip to Europe for a series of five basketball games recently, each had hopes of learning things that could help them in the future. For assistant coach Jay Price it was a chance to coach a team. For Brandon Paul, it was improving ball handling and passing. For Tyler Griffey, it was learning more about play in the low post.

Illinois sophomore Tyler Griffey has traveled to a number of countries in Europe. But he still enjoyed his recent tour of England, Germany and Belgium.

"It was an awesome trip. We were 5-0 and played some pretty good teams. It was a great experience for us. We all got better, we all had fun."

The opponents were professional club teams, some of whom challenged Griffey and his teammates.

"The first team in Belgium and the third game, first team in Germany, they were probably low major Division I teams. We beat them by 6 and 2. Then the other couple teams were Division II to Division III teams. We all got to play equal minutes and could work on our games."

Griffey is one of the best shooters on the Illinois team. That's saying something given Mike Tisdale's career shooting percentages. But Griffey is a tremendous three point shooter despite his 6'-8", 230 pound frame. What he needs to learn is how to post up and defend among the tall trees in the paint area.

"I tried to work on things that I needed to work on, especially with the games that weren't as competitive. Coach (Jay) Price did a good job of drawing up plays for me to get in the post, pick and dive and pick and roll."

The European style required a defensive adjustment for Griffey that may ultimately prove beneficial for him.

"When they're posting up you can't play behind because they have such good footwork. They have an extra step in there someway, so they can just go right around you. You have to deny them the ball. It was good for me to work on my defense denying the post. It was different."

Without question, Griffey feels the trip was beneficial.

"I could showcase my game for Coach Price in a different setting he's never seen me in before. I tried to take advantage of it."

The team was composed of players from 8 different schools. This gave everyone a chance to learn about different systems and coaches.

"They all come from different backgrounds, different schools. It was kind of funny. Ryan Evans from Wisconsin and D.J. Byrd from Purdue, we were talking about Coach (Bo) Ryan, Coach (Matt) Painter and Coach (Bruce ) Weber, how they do things differently and similar. Coach Painter and Coach Weber come from the same system. It was interesting to see the kind of drills they do and how hard they work."

Despite his worldly past, Griffey said one country stood out above the rest he has visited.

"London was by far the coolest city I've ever been to. I'm a big soccer fan, Manchester United, so I tried to talk to all the people with Manchester United gear on. We saw Buckingham Palace, Parliament, where the Prime Minister lives, the world's second largest Ferris Wheel. It was cool."

It was a fun and successful trip, but even then the focus was on the upcoming season for Griffey and his fellow Illini.

"We talked about what our goals are, what are roles are. We're excited to get started. We've got one mindset, Houston 2011."

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