The Gee-Gees women's basketball team is back in action once again, coming off their most successful season in program history.
The first order of business for the team is the trip of a lifetime to Italy for seventeen days this August. While spending plenty of time touring around Venice and Rome, the team will also be matching up against eight NCAA Division I teams over the course of the trip.
First the Gee-Gees will take on Kennesaw State just outside of Venice in Mestre. The Owls, who hail from Kennesaw, Georgia finished 9-22 overall last season with a 4-12 record in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
In their second and final game in the Venice area, the Gee-Gees will take on their first power five conference team in Georgia. Last season, Georgia finished 18-12 overall and seventh in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with a 9-7 record. Last year was a deviation from the norm as the Bulldogs have made NCAA Tournament eight of the last 10 seasons.
Moving on to Rome, the Gee-Gees will match up with UNC Greensboro. Last season, the Spartans finished 11-19 overall and 5-9 in the Southern Conference.
The next game for the Gee-Gees will come against Illinois State, who had 19–12 overall record, finishing 11–7 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
On Aug. 10, the team will play Clemson in another top-billed battle. The Tigers posted a 20-13 overall record, with a 9-7 finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Advancing to the NCAA Tournament, Clemson fell to Mississippi State in the second round. The appearance in March Madness was their first since 2002.
Up next in Rome will be George Mason, who posted a 16-14 overall record en route to a 8-8 finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
The Gee-Gees' third and final Power Five matchup will come against Virginia Tech on Aug. 15. A 22-12 overall record last season had the Hokies surging early, at one point getting ranked 25th in the Coaches Poll. Eventually losing to Clemson in the ACC Tournament, the Hokies accepted an invitation to the WNIT, where they finished with a third round exit.
The final and potentially toughest game of the trip will come against Gonzaga on Aug. 16. The Bulldogs had an outstanding 29-5 overall record last season, with their only two conference losses coming at the hands of BYU. The once nationally 12th ranked team lost to BYU once again in the West Coast Conference Tournament, but still earned a berth in March Madness where they went on to be a second round exit.
With a handful of new faces on the Gee-Gees, the trip will be a great chance to integrate different players into the lineup. Losing two double-digit scorers from last season, the team will look to replace some of that offence early in the preseason.
Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus (10.3 pts/5 reb/4.9 ast), Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu (14 pts/6.1 reb), and Angela Ribarich (11 pts/7.2 reb) are key established returners this season that will be the centre of the Gee-Gees team.
A key for the coaching staff will be seeing the continued development of players like Alana Renon, Maia Timmons, and Anne Carr as each will have key roles on going forward this year.
2019 Italian Tour Game Schedule:
August 2 – vs. Kennesaw State (Mestre, Italy)
August 4 – vs. Georgia (Muggia, Italy)
August 7 – vs. UNC Greensboro (Rome, Italy)
August 9 – vs. Illinois State (Rome, Italy)
August 10 – vs. Clemson (Rome, Italy)
August 12 – vs. George Mason (Rome, Italy)
August 15 – vs. Virginia Tech (Rome, Italy)
August 16 – vs. Gonzaga (Rome, Italy)