The Big Ten Basketball Foreign Tour teams return to play this summer as Illinois' Bruce Weber and Penn State's Rene Portland will serve as the head coaches. The women will head overseas first, competing in Holland and Belgium from July 17-27 before the men make their trip with games in Spain from August 9-19. Last year during the 2004 Foreign Tour, the men's and women's teams posted a combined 7-2 record. The women produced an unblemished 4-0 mark in Australia last summer while the men went 3-2 in Italy.
Both teams will be making their 13th trip overseas this summer, as the men's tour began in 1991 and has been held every year since with the exception of 2000 and 2003. The women's team started a year later in 1992 and has competed annually except for 2003. Weber's and Portland's rosters will be solidified next month and the teams will gather for training camps in Champaign and University Park, respectively, prior to departure.
In his second year at the Illinois helm, Weber led the Fighting Illini to one of their most memorable seasons, notching a Big Ten record in victories with a 37-2 mark, while becoming the eighth different Big Ten team to compete in the national championship game. Weber led Illinois to its second consecutive outright Big Ten crown for the first time since 1951-52 and its fourth title in five seasons. He also became the first coach in Big Ten history to earn Coach of the Year from eight national media organizations. Weber was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, Basketball Times, CBS/Chevrolet, Naismith, NABC, Rupp Cup, The Sporting News and USBWA, marking only the fifth time a Big Ten coach has been honored by four or more national media organizations.
Portland, who recently finished her 25th year as head coach at Penn State, has amassed a total of 578 wins in University Park and a remarkable 665 victories over the course of her 29-year career as a head coach. She led her team to the NCAA Tournament for the 21st time in 2004-05, including the last seven seasons. Under Portland's leadership, the Lady Lions posted six wins over ranked opponents in the 2004-05 season, including four triumphs over top-10 foes. She also directed Penn State to its fourth perfect home record at the Bryce Jordan Center, notching a 12-0 mark.
The Big Ten Foreign Tours have given more than 268 student-athletes the opportunity to travel abroad, as the men have toured such places as Japan, France, Italy, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, England and Ireland while the women have traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Slovakia, France and Switzerland. In 12 years, the men's teams have posted a 49-31 record while the women's teams have gone 46-18 over that same span.
Weber will decide between guard Calvin Brock, forwards Brian Randle, Shaun Pruitt and Marcus Arnold. Weber can take two players.