There’s plenty of work to do on the court, Boston University coach Joe Jones acknowledged in a recent interview in his office off Comm. Ave. in Boston, but that can’t mean life off the court stops.
In fact, to know where they are, the Terriers may just have to go somewhere they’ve never been.
“I love our team. I love their attitude. I like our talent level,” Jones said. “But we’re young, and we just need to go through the process. We need to play, we need to practice, we need to get to know each other. We need to learn, we need to grow, we need to develop.
“I’m just kinda looking forward to going through it. But there’s a lot of inexperience out there.”
The Terriers have already put in 10 practice sessions, focusing mainly on fundamentals like closeouts and rotations on defense and moving the ball on offense, getting an early start on the 2014-15 season’s work not because their youth and inexperience says they need it but because of < ahref=http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/colleges/post/_/id/5301/bu-has-big-travel-plans-for-2014-15>their travel plans.
Luckily for Jones and his charges, there are basketball courts seemingly everywhere these days. And that leads to photos like this one, shared by BU assistant coach Shaun Morris (that’s him on the left, in sunglasses) on Tuesday:
Landed in Italy and went straight to the Roman Colosseum with the squad pic.twitter.com/XlgAhP4n8V
— Shaun Morris (@SMorrisBU) August 19, 2014
The Terriers have taken their learning experience across the Atlantic to Italy, where Jones hopes they soak in the history of the place and get a glimpse of life as it’s lived in Rome, Venice and Vatican City. He also hopes the experience brings his young team together, off the court and on.
“From an athletic sense, just spending time together, the brotherhood, the ability to bond and get to know each other at a deeper level is very powerful and very important,” he said.
Before the team left the country, Jones said he’d been pleased with what he saw in practice. The juniors (including leading returning scorer John Papale and Nathan Dieudonne) have been good leaders and communicators, he said, the sophomores have shown improvement (though Cedric Hankerson has been hampered by a hamstring injury), and the freshmen (including likely ballhandlers Cheddi Mosely and Eric Johnson) have flashed skills that say they belong.
There’s a long way to go before the season tips off against crosstown rival Northeastern on Nov. 16 (in the Coaches vs. Cancer tripleheader at TD Garden), but for now the Terriers are focused on their experiences far from home (which you can follow along with on social media via the hashtag “#ciaoBU”).
BU will play four games against professionals on the trip, and that live action should give Jones and his assistants plenty of time to assess where they stand.
“I think the staff will walk away with a ton of information, a report card of things that we need to continue to work on and things that we’re probably a little bit better [at that] we didn’t know,” Jones said. “I think we’ll have a better idea of who we are.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.