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UMD gets jump start on 2019 season with trip to Costa Rica

DULUTH, MN- It may only be July, but the UMD basketball team is already back at Romano Gymnasium getting better.

That’s because the team is prepping for a seven day basketball tour in Costa Rica.

A lot of Division I programs, probably most of them go on a trip every four years. Division II it doesn’t happen very often. So for us, I think we’re the only team in our league doing it this summer. So for us to have 10 days of practice, 7 days on the trip, playing three games. It just lets you start at a much higher level,” said Head Coach Justin Wieck.

Head Coach Justin Wieck wanted to take this trip to reward the team’s seniors. Senior Brandon Myer says the trip brings plenty of benefits.

“We don’t take it for granted because we know it doesn’t happen to any team. To be here for four years and to be able to get a trip like this. We’re very grateful. As for basketball wise we have a bunch of new guys and some transfers so Costa Rica is going to be a good opportunity to gel as a team and build team chemistry,” added forward Brandon Myer.

One of those new transfers may be a new face to Bulldog fans but an old one to the Northland. As Grand Rapids native and former Badger Alex Illikainen will suit up for UMD this fall.

“It’s really exciting for me. Because obviously as I’m closer to home, it feels like home, Duluth feels like home to me. Having the chance for another year, kind of the last hurrah for college basketball. I’m super excited and ready to help this team take it to the next level,” said Illikainen

Illikainen and the team will leave on July 23rd. Besides competing with other teams, Coach Wieck says there’s one ultimate goal he wants his team to accomplish.

“It’s the time outside of basketball that’s really important. Time in the hotel or just walking around the city, breakfast, lunch, dinner, all that stuff. A chance for these guys to get a lot closer. We’ve got 8 guys that have been here for awhile but we also got 5 new guys. So trying to become as close as a team, really build that trust. I think is something you really can’t measure. But it’s going to really help us be successful come next year,” said coach Wieck.

UMD will play in Costa Rica on July 25th, July 26th, and July 29th.

Neil Vierzba

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