WILLIAMSTOWN >> With the possible exception of some luggage that was misplaced between Barcelona and Williamstown, the Williams College men's basketball team couldn't have had a better trip to Spain.
"We went over there with three focuses — enjoy the culture, build chemistry and compete," Eph coach Kevin App said during an interview in his office. "All three went probably better than I expected."
The basketball team was making its first overseas visit in four years. The Ephs went 2-1 in three games against Spanish teams of various pro levels.
Some of the Ephs are already on campus, while others went home for a quick visit before returning to the campus to begin the 2016-17 school year. By the time classes begin, everyone who went on the trip should have all of their baggage back.
On the trip, Williams beat Bisbal Basquet 73-56 in the first game before it downed Mataro Parc Boet 75-72. App's team was unable to sweep Spain, as Club Basquet Cornella scored on a buzzer-beater to beat Williams 69-68.
"Not even so much the results, but the competition part," said App, when asked if he was pleased with the outcome of the three games.
"It absolutely was what we wanted to see. In our second game, it tipped off at 9:45 p.m., after touring all day. We were up 16, and guys hit a wall at 11 p.m., when the fourth quarter started," he said. "We were able to fight and claw ... and we were able to find a way to win that game."
Rising senior Dan Aronowicz led the Ephs in scoring in two games, scoring 30 in the win over Parc Boet and 20 over Basquet Cornella. That's kind of expected from a first-team All-NESCAC player. But App and his assistants were pleased with last season's newcomers and how they've matured.
"It was really that group of sophomores, especially those guys who didn't play as many minutes. As a coaching staff, we were really impressed with the entire team," said App, "but especially that sophomore group. They don't look like freshmen, which is good."
One of the five freshmen from last year, James Heskett did not play because he was nursing a sprained ankle. But the other four played extensive roles during the games.
That included 6-foot-10 center Michael Kempton, who averaged only 4.5 minutes per game last year. He led the Ephs in rebounding in two out of the three games.
"He was one of the guys who was able to put on some weight, and he's a year older. With that comes more confidence, and the understanding of his teammates and how we want to play," the coach said. "He did really well, and held his own. Two of the teams had Americans who were trying out for the team, 27-year-olds who were playing pro for two or three years. He kind of held his own, if not outplayed them. It was good to see."
App said that he'll hold on to the multiple memories from the trip and what he learned from his team. He'll have to, because now the players are working out on their own. NESCAC rules prohibit coaches from working with players until the start of the winter season on Nov. 1.
"The trip allowed them to see where we're at," App said. "It allowed them to get even more excited for the season."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.