Belmont’s men’s and women’s basketball teams spent time abroad this summer playing in high-scoring exhibition games and getting a taste of international culture.
The women’s team secured wins in both games, 77-46 against the Italy All-Stars and 86-36 against the Rome All-Stars.
The men’s trip included a close 99-97 win over Madrid Select and a 96-62 win over CC Basketball Academy.
But the team lost to Catalonia Elite, 99-92, ending the weekend 2-1.
For the Lady Bruins, the trip to Italy included a few firsts for the team.
It was the first time the women’s team has traveled to Europe for the summer and the first international trip it has taken since its 2018 stint in Rio de Janeiro.
It was also the first time since 2019 that the team played without its star guard Destinee Wells, who transferred to the University of Tennessee, and star forward Madison Bartley, who transferred to Baylor University.
And for head coach Bart Brooks, the trip meant more than basketball.
It was an opportunity for his team to bond without feeling the stress of being a student athlete.
"This will be a once in a lifetime trip to experience a new culture while visiting some of the world's most historical places,” said Brooks before the trip.
“One of the best things about working at Belmont is helping our athletes understand their value extends way beyond the basketball court. This trip will allow us to represent Belmont abroad as members of the leading Christ-centered university in the world."
When the Lady Bruins weren’t competing on the hardwood, they spent time visiting some famous Italian landmarks, such as the Vatican City, the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Now, it’s time for the Lady Bruins to prepare for its season opener when they travel to the University of Missouri on Nov. 6.
Two days after the women’s trip ended, the men’s trip to Spain started.
Head coach Casey Alexander also viewed the trip as a way to further develop team chemistry after 10 days of practice in Nashville.
“The primary goal is to give this team a great experience. Being together has far-reaching benefits,’’ Alexander told Joe Sullivan of NashvilleHoops.
“We were together 20 straight days - 10 for practice and 10 in Spain. That really accelerates our team building.”
This bonding included a tour of Madrid, seeing Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the soon-to-be new home of Real Madrid, and Barcelona, visiting the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
When it was time to compete, Alexander said that the record meant very little.
Instead, he made sure every player was able to see the floor.
“I would substitute five guys at a time. They’d play three minutes, then sit three minutes. There wasn’t a lot of fluidity,” said Alexander to Sullivan.
Now, Belmont is looking to prepare for Nov. 6, when Georgia State comes to the Curb Event Center for the season opener.
The last four times Belmont went on a foreign tour, the Bruins reached postseason play.
Can they continue the streak this year?
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer