MADISON – Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard and his players plan to spend a good chunk of August playing, bonding and experiencing a different culture.
The Badgers are scheduled to travel to France on Aug. 7, play a total of four games in the cities of Paris, Lyon and Nice and return home Aug. 17.
UW’s last overseas trip was in August 2017, when the team played five games in Australia and New Zealand.
The NCAA allows teams to take such trips every four years but the COVID-19 pandemic affected schools’ travel plans.
“It is great educationally and culturally,” Gard said Thursday. “It is great bonding. You get extra practices. You get the four games.”
UW is scheduled to play two games against teams from the academy of Tony Parker, a native of Belgium who won four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs, and two professional teams.
The Badgers must replace their top two scorers (Johnny Davis and Brad Davison) and reserves Chris Vogt, Lorne Bowman and Ben Carlson from the team that won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title last season and finished 25-8 overall.
Incoming transfers Kamari McGee (UW-Green Bay) and Max Klesmit (Wofford) and freshman Connor Essegian are eligible to make the trip.
That trio should benefit from the experience, along with several returning players who likely will have expanded roles next season.
“There are guys who were in the backseat, so to speak, who will be stepping up,” Gard said.
That group includes guard Jordan Davis and forwards Markus Ilver, Chris Hodges and Carter Gilmore.
“There’s going to be different roles,” Gard said.
UW’s eight-week summer program is set to start June 13 and end Aug. 5, two days before the team leaves for France.
“We get 10 extra practices in addition to what we can do in the eight weeks,” Gard said. “It gives us extra time together and the games will be important to get some guys experience.”