The women’s basketball team originally planned to travel to Europe and play in three preseason games against club teams in August 2016. But then in July of last year, a terrorist attack occurred in Nice, France.
More than 80 people were killed by a driver who sped through a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day, a French national holiday. Following the attack, the team was advised by Temple officials against international travel for the rest of the summer, said Lauren Ferrett, associate director of athletic communications for women’s basketball.
With the trip scheduled, the Owls had already accumulated the funds for the trip through different fundraising events and planned for it in the team’s budget, Ferrett said.
A year after the scheduled tour in Europe, the team arrived in Rome on Aug. 15 and spent four days there before going to Paris from Aug. 19 to 23.
Because the team traveled in Summer 2017, the tour will be counted as part of the 2017-18 academic year. Per NCAA rules, teams are only allowed one international tour every four years, which means Summer 2021 is the next time Temple can play abroad outside the regular season.
After a tour of Vatican City in the Italian heat, Temple played its first game in the preseason tour against Radivoj Korac, a Serbia-based professional team, on Aug. 17. Temple won the first game of the showcase 84-44. In the rematch on the next day, the Owls won, 77-43.
“Knowing we were playing professional teams and doing well, it gave us a lot of confidence coming back and playing in college,” senior guard Tanaya Atkinson said. “Knowing in Europe they don’t have college teams, just pros, it helped our confidence, and just playing together so early on in the year helped us figure out each other’s style of play faster.”
After Rome, the Owls flew to Paris for their last game of the trip. Paris was most of the team’s favorite stop, Atkinson said, and visiting the Eiffel Tower was the highlight of Temple’s sightseeing in the city.
“Paris was definitely my favorite spot we were in,” freshman forward Mia Davis said. “The Eiffel Tower was so cool, and to be on a trip like this my freshman year, it was something else.”
The third game proved to be the Owls’ toughest, as they trailed 46-40 at halftime. But after coming back to take the lead in the third quarter, Temple held on to finish a perfect 3-0 in the European tour, defeating Sceaux 88-78.
During the three games, Davis was the standout for the Owls. The freshman led Temple in scoring in two of the three games and averaged a team-high 15 points per game. Davis also had a double-double in every game, averaging 12.7 rebounds.
“Being the leading scorer shows they have confidence in me and shows I fit in with my role with the other players,” Davis said.
In 2011, the national sports media company Sporting News sampled 27 schools that went on European tours from 2006-10. For the season following the tour, the teams had an average win increase of about two games from the previous season.
Had Temple won two more games last season, it would have won 27 games for the first time since the 2004-05 season, the second campaign in the Owls’ stretch of eight NCAA tournament appearances in a row.
“Two more wins from last year would be huge,” Atkinson said. “We had a really good season and we’re hoping this preseason can help us build to the next one.”