SANTA CLARA, Calif. – First-year Santa Clara head basketball coach Herb Sendek is no stranger to summer exhibition tours.
Sendek, heading into his 23rd season as a head coach, will be making his third foreign trip. Per NCAA rules, basketball programs may schedule a summer exhibition trip once every four years and the Broncos head to Italy later this month.
In the summer of 1999, Sendek took his NC State squad to Italy and just three years ago at Arizona State he led his team on a trip to China.
"The best part about these tours is the ability to see each other in different lights, to spend time together, breaking bread and traveling," Sendek said. "It's just a wonderful opportunity to bond as a team, in addition to the value that obviously the practice time affords us."
The Italy tour comes at a perfect time for the Broncos, who gain valuable experience working in a new system.
The team had a two-month period from mid-June until early August when it could be on the court for two hours per week, but the exhibition tour allows even more indoctrination time before the 11-day trip, featuring three games, begins on Aug. 20.
"The 10 days of practice that we're navigating right now are proving invaluable," Sendek said. "We're learning so much about our team and about each other and it has really given us some important time to establish our system, everything from our vocabulary to how we're going to play on both ends of the floor."
After one year away from the court, Sendek has relished his time getting to know his team, which started tour practice July 26.
"I really have enjoyed coaching and teaching our players," Sendek said. "They are eager to learn, they want to get better, and they are very coachable. We haven't had a bad day, they come and give tremendous effort, our leadership has been outstanding, and we have a really good spirit."
As important as it is to improve fundamentals, developing cohesiveness and chemistry away from the court plays a key role in success.
"Off the court I'm really enjoying the relationships and the company of our players," Sendek said. "There's no question we have a team that will be easy to cheer for that we can all be proud of because of the kind of young men that we have on our roster."
Italy Tour Schedule: The Broncos will play three games during their Italy exhibition tour and be based in Rome, Florence and Milan. Opponents have not been finalized, but games are set for Thursday, Aug. 25 (in Piombino), Saturday, Aug. 27 (in Milan), and Saturday, Aug. 28 (in Brescia). The team leaves Aug. 20, arriving the following day in Rome. There is a nine-hour time difference between the West Coast and Italy. Check for updates on the Santa Clara Athletics social media accounts.
Summer Time Key for Broncos: In addition to the normal eight-week summer program, the Italy trip practices have given the Broncos a chance to not only work on fundamentals, but also install new offensive and defensive schemes. "We're trying to advance on a broad-based front, so we're most certainly spending time on our skills but we're also putting in the foundation of our offense and our defense and getting our system in place as much as possible," Sendek said. The Italy exhibition tour 10-day practice schedule gives a first-year coaching staff valuable time on the court at a key point in the year. "Given the fact that we're on a quarter system and we won't start school until Sept. 19, this time is even more critical for us," Sendek said. "A lot of schools start that third week in August then have a good six weeks together putting in their systems before regular season practice begins. Without that opportunity, because of our quarter system, summer days are very vital to us."
Season Tickets: The season ticket renewal process is underway and concludes Friday, Sept. 16. Prospective season ticket holders may place a $50 deposit for priority access once the renewal window ends. Beginning Monday, Sept. 19, new season ticket holders may begin selecting their seat locations. For questions, please contact the ticket office weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at (408) 554-4660 or BroncoTickets@scu.edu.
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