Northwestern basketball departs for Europe today for it's 10-day, three-city preseason tour. And as we are all of course aware, it's a well known fact that teams that go on preseason trips abroad are 1,000 times more likely to make the postseason in the subsequent season than those that don't.
Clearly, Jim Phillips and Chris Collins were well aware of that fact when the trip was planned. And clearly, they chose carefully. They decided to take Northwestern basketball on a scenic trip to España, the home of basketball. Or at least the home of European basketball. Or at least a place where basketball is played professionally.
The trips itinerary, full of sight-seeing, is enough to make any fan jealous. But make no mistake, this is a business trip, and Northwestern should treat it as such.
Northwestern ain't going to Spain to watch bullfights and whatever else happened in The Sun Also Rises. The Wildcats are going overseas to get better. I've taken it upon myself to set forth some reachable and 100-percent reasonable goals for Chris Collins and company to accomplish while they're conquering Europe. Falling short of these goals makes the entire trip a failure and completely not worthwhile, and perhaps calls into question the direction of the program.
1) Recruit the next Gasol Brothers
There are a sizable handful of Spanish players in the NBA, most notably Marc and Pau Gasol, but also Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Nikola Mirotic, and Jose Calderon. Yet there are a grand total of zero active Spaniards in college basketball today according to the ever reliable Wikipedia. There's an untapped market that Northwestern should be using.
Chris Collins, Armon Gates, Patrick Baldwin and Brian James should be camped out on Madrid's blacktops finding the next generation of Spanish superstars. I'd suggest finding a pair of 13-year-olds who are 6-foot-5. Seems like a decent place to start.
2) End the trip with at least the same number of players as when it started
Do we want to remember the whole Kevin Coble fiasco? Because I'd rather not. In fact, let's just pretend it never happened! (But it did and I just reminded you of it)
Please nobody leave the team this time.
3) Eat a lot of Serrano Ham
Because it's really tasty.
4) Drink a lot of Sangria*
*drink a lot of Sangria responsibly.
**and only do it if it's legal.
***and only if it's good Sangria.
5) Finish the construction of the Sagrada Familia
If there's anything that NU basketball recruiting has taught us, it's that if you give Chris Collins the keys to the car and enough time, he can build anything. So a church that's been being built for over a century shouldn't be too much of an ask.
6) Convince Cristiano Ronaldo to play basketball, convince the NCAA that he has eligibility
Because he's really fast, just bought a moderately sized crib here in the states, and can probably fly:
7) Whoop every single team that dares to stand in the Wildcats' way
Bottom line, I want to see (well not technically see since there's no way of watching) this team kick some serious Spanish backside on this trip. I want to see Vic Law jump over someone en route to a tomahawk jam. I want to see Alex Olah expand his range out to not just the college three-point line, but the FIBA three-point line. I want to see some good ol' fashioned Tre magic.
I just want basketball season to be here already.