HOUSTON – It's the middle of the summer and the Rice basketball season is not set to begin until November, but the balls are bouncing and the sneakers are squeaking up and down the gym floor inside Tudor Fieldhouse.
That's because the Owls are on their way to a three-game basketball tour in Spain during the first two weeks of August. This very young group has been working hard at practice since July 9th in advance of the trip that will take them to Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona with a game set for each stop.
NCAA rules allow for for 10 days of practice prior to a foreign tour and the Owls are taking full advantage.
"It's an exciting time, especially with all these new young faces that we have," said head coach Scott Pera. "We're anxious to get 'em over there, play 'em against somebody else and see what we've got going into fall camp.
"We wanted to make sure that we took advantage of this opportunity," Pera added.
"Hopefully we come out of this healthy, feeling good about ourselves and excited to get ready to practice again."
The Owls have five freshman to work into the mix along with several transfers, so the time spent together both at practice and on this basketball tour is invaluable according to Pera.
"The time we spend together is the most important thing here," Pera said. "Because they have to get to know each other, trust each other, get to know the coaching staff and trust the coaching staff as well. It's a really valuable tool.
"Hopefully in February or March, if we're having a decent season we can look back on this really well."
For the players, it's a great opportunity to see a new part of the world and experience a different culture.
"It's obviously a great experience, I've never been," said junior guard Ako Adams. "I know the youngers guys haven't either," I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait."
'We kind of all have that same feeling," sophomore guard Josh Parrish said. "We don't know what to expect. We're just going in trying to take it all in and have fun."
They certainly feel it can also give them a great head start to the season as well.
"We've got to get everybody acclimated to what we're going to face in Spain," said Parrish. "We definitely face a lot of hardships in practice, but it's only going to get us better in the long run."
"It helps us for the regular season to get extra practices," Adams added. "(It) helps get the young guys incorporated into the system."
The Owls schedule while in Spain:
Aug. 4 vs CB Alcobendas (in Madrid)
Aug. 6 vs CC Basketball Academy (in Valencia)
Aug. 8 vs Barcelona All-Star (in Barcelona)