May 19, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. - The California women's basketball team began final preparations for the Golden Bears May 24-June 3 Africa trip on Monday. In addition to enjoying various cultural experiences, Cal will play three games against foreign teams during its visit to Tunisia and Senegal.
Cal held its first of four pre-trip practices today. The Bears are also scheduled to practice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Fans are encouraged to check CalBears.com daily during the trip for player diaries, game recaps, photo galleries, video highlights and interviews, and background information about the Bears' sightseeing stops. Due to the nine-hour time difference from the West Coast and Tunisia and seven-hour difference from Senegal, be prepared for lag time in the posting of information.
After assembling the best season in school history, all 10 players from the 2007-08 team, along with the coaches and support staff, will depart the Bay Area Saturday, May 24, to begin their journey to Tunisia. The travel party doesn't arrive in Tunisia until Sunday, May 25.
The Tunisian portion of the trip includes two games with the Tunisian national team, a sightseeing excursion to ride camels, a visit to Sousse (the third largest town in Tunisia) and a trip to the Coliseum of El-Jem.
On Thursday, May 29, Cal leaves Tunisia to conclude its adventure in Senegal, the homeland of Bears sophomore forward/center Rama N'diaye. Cal will face the Senegal under-20 national team during this phase of their journey.
The Senegal itinerary also includes spending time with the N'diaye family in Dakar, teaming with World Vision to conduct a basketball clinic for over 300 kids at a grammar school, visiting an orphanage, a trip to a popular safari park and a ferry ride to tour Goree Island (a 15th century slave island).
On Monday, June 2, Cal departs Senegal for a long trip back to the United States. The team arrives in the Bay Area June 3.
While in Africa on the privately-funded trip, the team will have the chance to soak up the culture and shop for local goods. Tunisia is known for wool tapestry, bracelets, perfumes, coral jewelry, and ceramic, wood and metal works. Some products of interest in Senegal are African art, gold and silver jewelry and leather goods.
Under NCAA rules, teams are allowed to take a foreign trip every four years.
Junior forward/center Devanei Hampton may be held out of the games in Africa as a precaution as she recently irritated her right knee. N'diaye will not play in the games as she is rehabilitating an ACL injury suffered in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament against San Diego.
Cal set a school record for wins in a season in 2007-08, finishing with a 27-7 record, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears defeated San Diego, 77-60, in the first round of the postseason to earn their first NCAA victory in 15 years.