In preparation for the upcoming campaign, the Saint Joseph's College men's basketball team will travel to England for a series of four exhibition games against club teams in London and Oxford in late August.
The Monks depart for the U.K. on Tuesday, August 23rd and will return to New England on Wednesday, August 31st. While abroad St. Joe's will face the Bristol Flyers, Milton Keynes Lions, Reading Rockets and Hemel Storm teams.
The trip, which is the Monks' first European Tour since the team visited the countryside of Finland and Sweden in the spring of 1981, begins with a game against the Bristol Flyers of the English Basketball League (EBL) at Oxford Brookes University on Friday, August 26th. The Monks face Milton Keynes of the British Basketball League (BBL) the following day at the Milton Keynes Arena and the Reading Rockets (EBL) at Oxford Brooks University on August 29th. The overseas trek concludes with a game against the Hemel Storm (EBL) at Hemel on August 30th.
While overseas, the Saint Joseph's College coaches and players will also conduct a pair of one-day basketball clinics at Oxford Brookes' Centre for Sport - one for 17-20 year-olds and one for 14-16 year-olds.
"This is an outstanding opportunity for our returning players to get an early start on their season," adds Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99, who is about to begin his ninth season as the Monks' clipboard carrier. "With twelve returners, we hope this tour will continue to foster the close-knit family we have in our program, but will also be a springboard to the upcoming year. This trip will also provide a great opportunity for these young men to experience the culture, tradition and rich history of England and provide lasting memories."
The team also plans on doing some sightseeing during the busy slate of games, practices and clinics. The coaching staff and players will ride the London Hop On & Hop Off Double Decker Bus Tour and while aboard they will see the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, The Palace of Westminster, and the Churchill War Rooms along many other noteworthy attractions.
The Monks return 12 players and four starters from a team that went 20-8 and advanced to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship game last winter. This season's returners include senior guards Zach O'Brien (Schenectady, N.Y.) and Chris Petzy (Kensington, N.H.), two of the Monks' top scorers last year.
O'Brien, a 2011 First Team All-GNAC selection, paced the Monks in scoring (16.9 PPG), rebounding (4.8 RPG) and assists (4.3 APG) as a junior while Petzy shot a team-best 45.5% (65-143) from three-point range and averaged 15.4 points per game during the 2010-11 campaign.
Other returners include senior swingman Tom Ray (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), junior point guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.), sophomore center Clark Noonan (Bangor, Maine), sophomore forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) and sophomore guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.).
In accordance with NCAA rules regarding foreign exhibition trips and to allow the team to get into game-ready shape, the Royal Blue will be allowed to have 10 days of practice before departing.