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Dawkins Previews Spain Trip; Cardinal Holds Final Practice
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 09/02/2011

Sept. 2, 2011


Cardinal Players Looking Forward To Spain

ESPN.com's Diamond Leung: Season Preview

Spain Previews: San Francisco Chronicle | San Jose Mercury News

My Foreign Trip Experience: Goods | Borchardt

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STANFORD, Calif.- With only one practice remaining before tomorrow's early-morning flight to Spain, Stanford's Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men's Basketball Johnny Dawkins previews the upcoming trip.

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The team first began practicing last Thursday, allowing the coaching staff to get an early look at each player.

Dawkins: "The practices have been great. They serve as an opportunity for us to get together and build team chemistry, while continuing to get our younger players experience working through our system. All in all, I think it's been a real positive for us to get out on the court early."

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Last year's squad was the first in school history without a senior. With almost the entire roster returning this year, and knowing that you'll need contributions from a few of the younger guys, this has to be the perfect time for such a trip.

Dawkins: "It's a great opportunity for this group for a lot of reasons. First off, the bulk of our players are freshmen and sophomores, so with that, the experience we will gain competing over there is invaluable. We want to prepare ourselves well for our non-conference schedule and the Pac-12 season. In terms of chemistry and continuity, this trip represents all positives for us with this group. We will get a chance to identify rotations and schemes that are going to be important to our overall production during the season."

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How much of what you plan for during these foreign trips is also transitioned into your planning for the regular season?

Dawkins: "As much as anything, not only do you find out some things you like to do with your team chemistry-wise, but you may also find out some things you don't like. Some of the things you are putting into place might not look as good, now that you have actually seen them in practice. Really, it affords you an opportunity to change your mind if there is something there you don't like. Whereas if that happens during the season, it's very hard to just make wholesale changes like that."

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Was there a foreign trip you took during your tenure at Duke, either as a player or coach, that stands out?

Dawkins: "I will always remember going to France when I was a rising sophomore. The competition was great; we were playing against men. It's extremely physical. It's very competitive. Therefore, you really have to be prepared. I thought our team benefitted from the trip, not just because of what we did on the court, but also off the court. You spend so much time with your teammates, whether it be staying in the hotel for the entire time or dealing with the language. We didn't have pagers, cell phones or any of those things then, so we spent a lot of time just getting to know each other. I think it's good for our group to do the same, even in this day and age, because they'll have limited access to those communication devices. This is really an invaluable team-building opportunity for our guys."

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Every team Stanford will face is a member of the ACB League (or Liga ACB, The Asociacion de Clubs de Baloncesto). Throw in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Regal, which will be facing a college team for the first time, and this is an extremely challenging schedule.

Dawkins: "The competition is going to be terrific. The ACB League is the second-best league in the world behind the NBA. Several of the teams over there in Spain have actually won against our NBA teams, including FC Barcelona Regal beating the Lakers last year. So, we realize that we are going to be playing against some of the best players in the world. It's a great opportunity for this group. We will need to be prepared both physically and mentally for a tough test."

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How will you approach these games as a staff?

Dawkins: "I think we have to approach the games with the mindset of getting better. Of course, we're going to compete hard in every game. But we also want to see how our guys react in certain situations: against zone, man, half court sets, in transition while also testing out different defensive schemes. This trip gives us a chance to see all that against another opponent. So during the course of this trip, we are going to put our players in different situations."

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Regardless of the team's record at the end of the trip, are there a couple takeaways you want our guys to get out of this experience?

Dawkins: "First, I think the team aspect of togetherness. I really want us to grow in that area. The kind of team chemistry that is required to become a successful team. I think we have a chance to really foster that, considering how long we are going to be on this trip. Second, I'd like to see us come away with some good offensive and defensive execution. This is a chance for us to improve and get a little bit of a head start in those areas. So I hope we take advantage of that during the trip. And of course, for everyone to have fun and just enjoy the cultural experience."

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Here is a quick look at Stanford's current game schedule during the trip:

Monday, Sept. 5 Estudiantes (ACB) in Madrid - scrimmage
Tuesday, Sept. 6 Real Madrid (ACB) in Madrid
Wednesday, Sept. 7 CB Murcia (promoted to ACB) in Totana
Thursday, Sept. 8 Meridiano Alicante (ACB) in Alicante
Saturday, Sept. 10 Assignia Manresa (ACB) in Barcelona
Sunday, Sept. 11 Regal Barcelona (ACB) in Barcelona

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