Missouri men’s basketball will have an international flair in the coming seasons.
The Tigers are set to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-off in San Juan next season, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg — and it’s not even the team’s first international event.
Missouri will go on an international tour through Italy this summer from Aug. 5-15 and also is set to play in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Island Jam in November 2018, according to documents obtained by The Star.
The Tigers men’s team also has agreed to play in the 2017 Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., The tournament is scheduled for Nov. 23, 24 and 26, 2017.
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Additionally, Missouri’s women’s basketball team will participate in the 2016 Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
This will be the Tigers women’s first appearance in the preseason NIT, which is scheduled for Nov. 11-21, 2016.
Those games will be played on campus sites, not exotic places like Rome and Venice.
Missouri’s men basketball hasn’t been on an international tour since 2012. NCAA rules only allow one tour every four years, but the benefits can be immense.
The Tigers will be permitted 10 practices before the trip and can play up to 10 games in Italy, though teams usually play far fewer games and coach Kim Anderson’s squad is contracted for three to four exhibitions against pro/club teams.
“It will be great,” Anderson said. “You get 10 days and it’s pretty much like full practice. … Everybody will be done with school in the summer and we’re doing it before school starts, so we won’t have to worry about any school or anything.”
Missouri is not allowed to player other college teams or U.S. national teams, but any eligible player — including incoming students who complete summer school — can participate.
When Missouri toured Europe four years ago, its record dipped from 30-5 in 2011-12 to 23-11 in 2012-13.
Of course, the Tigers also lost every player except point guard Phil Pressey from the 2011-12 roster, so perhaps the European tour was pivotal in allowing coach Frank Haith’s second team to reach the NCAA Tournament despite so much attrition.
Mike Anderson’s squad improved from 16-16 to 31-7 after an international tour through Canada in the summer of 2008 between his second and third seasons at Missouri as he sought to incorporate seven fresh faces on the roster.
“I think it played a huge role,” senior forward Ryan Rosburg said of the impact it had on Missouri’s breakthrough season. “Having four or five games under our belt helped just being around each other and getting a feel for each other. You scrimmage each other all the time, but when you’re actually against another team, you kind of see more of people’s roles and things like that. It was a great bonding experience.”
In fact, he’d love to do it again.
“I’m really jealous for the guys this summer,” Rosburg said. “I wish somehow I could still go on the trip, but it will be a great time for them and they’ll learn a lot about themselves.”
The 2018 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16-19 and the schedule for the event will be set during the summer before the tournament.
Missouri — which opens next season against Evansville, a source told The Star — will host Northwestern (La.) State on either Nov. 25 or 26 and welcomes Western Kentucky on Dec. 3. Both visiting teams will receive $90,000 as an appearance fee.