Q: How important is this European tour for the growth of this team?

We want to play the best competition in the world. Eight of the eleven teams we’re playing are preparing for the world championships. It’s a real tough thing to go into other countries and play on their home courts in front of their nationalism and pride, and we’re doing that six times on this upcoming trip. It’s not going to be easy for our guys, but we have a really young group.

We’re going to learn a lot of lessons while we’re over there, but that’s what these players need. We need to learn the international game, and that’s why we’re playing these games this summer.

For some of these guys, it will be eye-opening, to see how passionate their fans are in their countries, and how fine-tuned these teams are. Because the world championships, in a lot of these countries, is bigger than the olympic games where more teams participate and more teams have the opportunity to compete.

It was unfortunate that we didn’t qualify for the [World Championships], but in hindsight, this might be a better situation for us. We play so many games on foreign soil. We might [not] have gotten that in the World Championships.