Amaker Preps Big Ten Foreign Tour Team

Michigan Basketball coach Tommy Amaker will be heading up the 2006 edition of the Big Ten Foreign Tour Team that will be competing in Australia from August 8th through the 18th. As the team prepared to depart overseas, Amaker took time to address the media Monday about the trip.

“It’s amazing what basketball has been able to do for all of us,” said Amaker of the opportunity. “Take us to foreign places, to great places, have some life experiences through this game of basketball that we play. I think obviously we’re grateful for the Big Ten for sponsoring this, for putting this on, allowing us to go to Australia, a place I’ve never been!”

The squad will play a mixture of pro and club teams from Australia and Coach Amaker expects some stiff competition. “Over the years, many people have ranked different places and different parts of the world, different countries; and Australia has always ranked very high,” he said. With some tough opponents ahead for the team, they will also have to adjust to different rules, including a 24 second shot clock (NBA), a wider lane and a deeper three point line.

As for his roster, Coach Amaker expressed his pleasure in having some seasoned players at his disposal, including Michigan‘s own Lester Abram. “A lot of times players like Lester or Ron Lewis (Ohio State)…kids who are older guys like Rod Wilmont from Indiana…some of the older players that played a while throughout their time…sometimes they pass on something like this to have some fun and kick back. I’m impressed those guys really wanted to be here.”

Amaker was very excited to be accompanied by his fifth-year senior captain on the trip and believes it will help him make up for some of the time he lost due to injuries. “He deserves it, a kid that’s gone through tough stretches the last couple of years," said Amaker of Abram. "He hasn’t played a lot of games. He’s been able to practice, play up all summer and spring… but to get more games under his belt, get back in that kind of environment… he really wanted to do this.”

Amaker acknowledged other Big Ten coaches were looking for their team’s representative to step up during the trip as well. “When you send a kid on this trip or ask one of your kids to go, if one of them volunteers to want to participate I think the thing you find out is most programs and coaches are looking for these particular kids to do some good things for them next season," he said. "They are looking for some growth. A kid like John Williams from Minnesota, Seth Gorney from Iowa, you can look around the room and see these guys are going to play some prominent roles in their respective programs.”

When asked whether the team’s second representative, Jerret Smith had lost weight in preparation for the tour, Amaker jokingly responded “He’s dropped some, but I wouldn’t say a lot!”

Amaker acknowledged the second year point guard is heading in the right direction however. “He’s working toward where we want him to go," Michigan's sixth year headman said. "I think that’s important that he is aware of it. He knows that’s an area…to get in better shape and realize how tough this league is. He knows it having gone through it, the level of college basketball.”

The selection process went rather smoothly for the Wolverines, though Amaker admitted Smith was a bit hesitant at first. “I think very honestly, Jerret was a little nervous about the long plane ride," said Amaker. "It was the first thing he thought of, but I told him he was going! He was a little nervous about the long plane ride but I think once he got through that, we talked about that, he was great, he’s excited.”

As for Abram, he was the one convincing Amaker to let him join the tour. “He was knocking on my door to let me know right away, if he could go, he would love to have the opportunity to go, so I think that was great.”

Stay tuned in the coming days for more from Michigan's foreign tour representatives.

2006 Big Ten Men's Basketball Foreign Tour Roster

Player, School Pos.   Yr.    Ht.    Hometown Player Bio
Marcus Arnold, Illinois F Sr. 6-9 Chicago, Ill. Bio
Roderick Wilmont, Indiana G Sr. 6-4 Miramar, Fla. Bio
Seth Gorney, Iowa C Jr. 7-0 Vandalia, Ohio Bio
Lester Abram, Michigan W 5th-Sr. 6-6 Pontiac, Mich. Bio
Jerret Smith, Michigan G So. 6-3 Romulus, Mich. Bio
Travis Walton, Michigan State G So. 6-2 Lima, Ohio Bio
Jonathan Williams, Minnesota   F/C So. 6-9 St. Cloud, Minn. Bio
Tim Doyle, Northwestern F 5th-Sr. 6-5 Merrick, N.Y. Bio
Ron Lewis, Ohio State G Sr. 6-4 Columbus, Ohio   Bio
Michael Walker, Penn State G Jr. 6-2 Lewisberry, Pa. Bio
Gordon Watt, Purdue F So. 6-6   Evanston, Ill. Bio

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