Basketball in August? Four south Louisiana schools taking foreign trips

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Travin Thibodeaux

NEW ORLEANS – College basketball and the month of August don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but for four programs in south Louisiana, things are different this month.

The men’s basketball programs at the University of New Orleans, Tulane, Nicholls and UL Lafayette are taking trips that will do more than just bond their team headed into the 2017-18 season.

UNO heads to Panama and Costa Rica next week for a trip that includes nearly as many community service projects (three) as exhibition games (four).

“We’ll visit an orphanage in Panama City, a youth educational clinic before one of the games in Costa Rica and a Special Olympics clinic on the last day,” Slessinger said. “We’re excited to be able to partner with Special Olympics. It’s pretty awesome.”

As important as the summer opportunity is, the community service projects are every bit, if not more important.

“It’s huge,” Slessinger said. “The service learning part is so important to me. To be able to teach guys about giving back is important. You can go and play games and see some of the sights, but you can also make time to give back and leave a good impression, make a chance and pay it forward.”

The Privateers will play two games against Panama’s national team and one game each against teams from Costa Rica.

Tulane leaves for a 10-day trip to Spain next week, which includes four exhibitions. Twenty-five years ago this month, an American basketball team in Spain made international headlines as the “Dream Team” dominated in the Barcelona Olympic Games.

The Privateers’ Southland Conference rival, Nicholls, departed Wednesday for the Bahamas and three exhibition games, beginning Friday night against the Bahamas All-Stars.

The Ragin’ Cajuns depart Monday for Cuba, where they will play three  exhibitions as the only NCAA Division I program to make a trip to Cuba this summer. Three transfers who sat out a year ago, all from Power 5 conferences, will get a chance to face outside competition for the first time in a Cajun uniform.

One of the advantages of a summer overseas trip is the 10 days of practice allowed by the NCAA.

“That’s been great, just to get an early look at what you have,” Slessinger said. “One of the things I told our players is we have eight new guys. This is a great opportunity to see it in action to see what will work. It gives us time to go back and retool and what will help us win another championship.”

Slessinger said that New Orleans native and UL Lafayette transfer Scott Plaisance can participate in the trip, even though he won’t be eligible until after the conclusion of the first semester.

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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