Wildcats experience Italy, Switzerland in exhibition games

The Kansas State basketball team poses for a picture in front of the Colosseum during a 10-day trip to Italy and Switzerland from Aug. 8-19, 2016. (Photo Courtesy of Tom Gilbert)

While many college students spent their final days of summer relaxing, the Kansas State men’s basketball team took a trip overseas to Italy and Switzerland for some sightseeing and five exhibition games against international teams.

The trip didn’t start as expected after Delta Air Lines had a computer glitch that left the team stuck in Atlanta, Georgia, for a night.

“I got a text saying we couldn’t leave and I thought someone was just pulling a prank on me,” head coach Bruce Weber said.

After a long day of traveling, the Wildcats took on LCC International University at the Stella Azzurra Sports Complex in Italy.

The Wildcats stormed back after being down by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter, but lost 75-82.

K-State senior D.J. Johnson led the team with 15 points in the game and had a very solid trip, according to Weber.

“(Johnson) was probably our most consistent player on the whole trip,” Weber said. “He played very well for us.”

In game two, the Wildcats bounced back for a 97-80 win over BC Silute with sophomores Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes combining for 33 points in the winning effort. Stokes was coming back from an injury that kept him from finishing last season.

“I was a bit scared at first to make sure I didn’t hurt it again, but my teammates said I can’t play like that,” Stokes said. “I really felt good, especially after that first game and nothing bothered me at all.”

Game three was by far the easiest for K-State as they cruised after gaining a 15 point lead in a 90-55 win over Italian Select.

“It was nice to have this game to do some things, but we like the competitive games,” Weber said. “These trips are to push us and get us better, but our guys played very well against Italian Select.”

In the fourth game, the Wildcats stayed competitive with the Kosovo National Team, but lost 74-85.

“The most important thing is that we will learn from this game,” Weber said. “These are strong men, basketball professionals and we hung in with them very well.”

The trip finished on a positive note as the Wildcats defeated BBC Lausanne 68-47 in Switzerland. Sophomore Dean Wade led all scorers with 17 points in just three quarters.

Freshman Xavier Sneed was a highlight on the trip as he scored double digits in the first four exhibition games and said he just really enjoyed being on the trip with this team.

“We really got to know each other, and I really fit in well with the all the guys,” Sneed said. “It was a great experience and gets me that much more ready for the season to start.”

Weber said he was impressed with how the team played on the trip and the final game was a great way to finish.

“We have a lot to work on, but our players are excited to get back to Manhattan to start school and get into our workouts to prepare for what should be a fun season,” he said.