Men's basketball to play exhibition series in Dominican Republic
Monday, July 11, 2011
Men's basketball to play exhibition series in Dominican Republic

With so many new faces on this year’s roster, the basketball season can’t start soon enough for Lipscomb men’s basketball Coach Scott Sanderson. At least, with the Bisons’ upcoming tour through the Dominican Republic taking place later this summer, Sanderson won’t have to wait very long.

The NCAA allows basketball teams to take “foreign” tours every four years. Lipscomb’s trip to the Dominican Republic will take place August 10-16 and was organized by the group Score International.

Lipscomb’s last “foreign” tour was five years ago, a 2006 trip to Canada.

“I think it’s huge from a team camaraderie standpoint,” said Sanderson. “For a new team, it’s a great opportunity in so many ways. We can do some great team-building work and all our guys can start to really learn their new roles.”

Sanderson said he can’t emphasize enough how important the trip will be with so many new players on hand. Eight of his team’s 14 members are new to the team and include five freshmen, two red-shirted freshman and one JUCO transfer.

“We’ve got so many new pieces and we get 10 extra days to practice with them ahead of the trip,” Sanderson said. “It’s great for our players, but it might be even better for our coaches since we have so many new guys. We want to see what these guys can do and get a feel for what it’s going to be like working with them.

“We may play a little bit differently this year in some ways, but having a chance to work with these new players a little more with the extra practice can tell the coaches a lot of things.”

This year Lipscomb is also playing in an exempt event (the Cancun Challenge) during the regular season which gives the team four games that will only count as three.  This means instead of entering the conference tournament having played 30 games including an exhibition, the Bisons will enter having played 35 games including the Dominican Republic trip and an exhibition.

Sanderson said he waited an extra year to schedule this year’s trip because he knew he would have a lot of young players on this year's roster and he wanted to build their experience quickly.

“I wanted to wait until we had a new team so we’d get as much out of the trip as possible,” Sanderson said. But Sanderson wasn’t just talking about his team’s opposition in the Dominican Republic, which he said will likely include strong, professional competition, but he was also talking about the character-building mission work that his players will be partaking in while on the trip. It's the first time the program has incorporated mission work in a "foreign" trip.

“We saw former player Josh Slater go down to the Dominican Republic a few years ago and saw pictures of him working with kids and we saw how it changed him,” Sanderson said. “Josh was a good person before he went down there, but he came back an even greater person.

“That’s what we wanted for the rest of us. Doing mission work in the local community while we’re down there should really be an eye-opening experience for all of us. It’s a chance for us to give back to some people that are less fortunate than us. We have it so great here, but it will be good for us to go experience helping others that don't have it as well as we do.”

Sanderson said that he and his staff and players are really starting to look forward to the trip and the work that lies ahead of them on and off the court.

“It’ll be good competition and a good chance to do some good work,” said Sanderson. “We’re really excited about it. A friend of mine sent a team down there and said it went very well. We just feel really comfortable with the group that helped us put this together and we’re ready to get to work.”