Women's Hoops: Team leaves for Europe

The Vanderbilt women's basketball team is off to Europe for 10 days of basketball and site seeing. Whitney D. files this report for VandyMania.com.

The Vanderbilt women's basketball team left Nashville bright and early Wednesday morning for a 10-day trip to Italy.

The travelers include all of the returning members of the basketball team, the managers, the coaching staff, and most of the support staff, including administrative assistant Vicki Spina, trainer Kris Mack, team physician Andrew Gregory, academic counselor Garry Gibson, and Tammy Boclair, who handles media relations for the womens basketball team. Unfortunately, preseason conditioning for the soccer team will keep strength and conditioning coach Lori Alexander home in Nashville, and NCAA regulations prevent the incoming freshmen from making the trip.

While most of the staff and coaches have been to Europe several times, many of the players will be making their first trip abroad. Others will be making their first trip to Europe. Chantelle Anderson, for example, has traveled to Asia with USA Basketball, but hasn't ever been to Europe. Jutta Korkko and Abi Ramsey have visited Italy before, but a quick poll Wednesday morning showed that they're the exceptions rather than the rule.

Three games against club teams are scheduled during the trip, but Head Coach Melanie Balcomb says that they're not the most important items on the agenda.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know the players and to have a lot of time off the court where we can get to know each other as people," she said in her office on Tuesday. "And I think that's the most important part. When you take over a team, it's so hectic, and you haven't spent the time with these players because you didn't recruit them. So you don't know them, their families, all those kinds of things."

Barring late changes to the itinerary, the team will spend Thursday and Friday in Rome for sightseeing, then travel on Saturday to Sorrento with a stop in Pompeii. On Sunday, they'll play their first game, then go to Florence on Monday for more sightseeing and a game on Tuesday night. And then it's on to Venice on Wednesday, where they'll play their third game Wednesday night. On Friday, they'll fly out of Milan back to the United States.

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