TCU Looking Forward to Aussie Experience
July 20, 2017
FORT WORTH, Texas - In just over two weeks, the TCU men's basketball team will join the women's squad for a 10-day trip to Australia, Aug. 5-16.
For head coach Jamie Dixon, the foreign tour, which will include five games, will be well worth the 16-hour DFW to Sydney flight. Dixon, who often frequents one of the longest flights in the world, spends a lot of time recruiting in that area, as does women's coach Raegan Pebley.
"I think it's unique," said Dixon. "It will be fun and will be a good experience. We both recruit Australia and both have connections down there. The plan is to play three doubleheaders. It will be a nice environment for us and will be a great trip."
Dixon, who played professionally in New Zealand, and associate head coach David Patrick, who grew up and played professionally in Australia, helped lure current Horned Frogs Lat Mayen and Kouat Noi to campus.
"When I got here, that has been one place I've wanted to target," said Dixon. "I was watching the NBA summer league and the announcers were talking about how almost one-third of all NBA players are international. That's trickled down to college basketball as well. I think because of the city, the metroplex, the (Dallas) Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki, it resonates with international players even more so. The airport with the direct flight to Australia, that's nice too."
It will be the fourth foreign tour for Dixon as a head coach. In his 13 years as the head man at Pitt, the Panthers toured and competed in Canada (2004), Ireland (2010) and Bahamas (2014). The common theme is that all are predominantly English-speaking countries.
"That's been one of the things I've looked at," said Dixon. "I've had a chance to take a team to Spain and France, but I just thought they were going to have a better experience by being able to talk and interact with people."
In addition to the 10 days of practice leading up to departure, being able to face competition in August has proven to pay dividends when the regular season tips off in November. Dixon's Panthers used the 6-0 showing in Ireland as a springboard for a banner 2010-11 season where they won the Big East regular season title and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Returning its top six scorers off last season's NIT championship team, senior guard Kenrich Williams hopes this experience leads to big things in year two of the Dixon era.
"We are going to be able to bond with each other and spend time with each other," said Williams. "Some of us stay on campus and some stay off campus so for this trip we will be all together. It will be great for our team."
Noi Eager to Play, Eager to Host
"We get a lot of stereotypes that the animals there are dangerous," said Noi. "But they are going to know first-hand so I'm anxious to see their expressions."
TCU is still finalizing its opponents for the trip, but one team it will face will be a collection of "all-stars" made up of Noi's former club teammates.
"They are all going to come at us," said Noi, whose mother lives in Sydney and father lives in Melbourne. "I grew up playing against them all when I was young so getting to play them again is going to be a great experience."
TCU's other Australian native, Lat Mayen, along with Kevin Samuel from Houston, have not practiced with the team yet and might not travel with the team to Australia. However, both will be on campus this fall.
Fisher Feeling Fine
"He's back to 100 percent," Williams said about Fisher. "I see him in the gym every day. He is back to normal."
Despite the injury, Fisher kept his spirits high as he cheered on his teammates from the bench at Madison Square Garden.
"I wasn't mad," said Fisher about missing most of the NIT run. "To be honest with you it was a blessing in disguise. All the players got to play and win the NIT by a large margin. The bench players got in. It was just wonderful for the school and for the seniors and for the program."
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