A.J. Ogilvy has stressed to teammates that the flight will be long.
For Vanderbilt’s junior center, however, the subsequent trip home will be a short one. Literally.
Ogilvy’s family lives two blocks from one of the arenas at which the Commodores will play next week during a five-game exhibition swing through Australia. The team departs Friday and begins play Monday in Melbourne.
“Mainly, (my teammates) want to know about the weather and the flight,” Ogilvy said. “They’re pretty concerned about the length of the flight.”
Ogilvy, who last ventured home in May, said it takes 15 hours to fly from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
Once the team arrives in Sydney, though, for an Aug. 14 contest against the Wollongong Hawks he will get to compete just down the street from his family’s home. It’s an arena at which he said he played “every day for about 10 years.”
Also included in the trip is a contest against the Australian Institute of Sport, where Ogilvy studied and competed before he enrolled at Vanderbilt. The final game will be Aug. 16.
“I’m really looking forward to showing them around Sydney,” he said. “I’m really familiar with that city. That’s where I grew up.
“All my friends will be coming out to that (game).”
NCAA rules allow 10 days of practice to prepare for a trip such as this.
The Commodores had two days of workouts at the beginning of July and then practiced four days between July 16 and 21. The reconvened Monday and planned to conclude their preparations Thursday.
“The destination was certainly a choice made with A.J. in mind,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “When we knew that we were going to go on a trip we decided that it would be a wonderful opportunity for our team to get to have more of an understanding of A.J.’s background as he has tried to understand their background while he’s been here for two years.
“But the trip in and of itself is about the team and the program and an opportunity to try to better ourselves for the upcoming year.”
• Last year’s freshman class, which consisted of six players and included five of the Commodores’ top eight scorers and rebounders, got bigger during the offseason.
Andre Walker received medical redshirt after being limited to three games before he sustained a season-ending knee injury and has returned as a sophomore. That means he now has three years of remaining eligibility, as do Jeffery Taylor, Brad Tinsley, Festus Ezeli and the rest of the 2008-09 freshman class.
“Andre is an incredible athlete,” Stallings said. “I think he heals quickly and he’s one of those guys who has great endurance and great stamina. So we’re happy to have him back.”
Walker has practiced at full speed this week with only a sleeve – no brace – on the injured knee. He was held back during previous workouts.
• Vanderbilt released its non-conference schedule on Tuesday, and it included nine teams with an RPI in the top 200 at the end of last season.
“Our schedule … reflects what we think of our team,” Stallings said. “We think our team is going to be strong. … It may be as difficult of a non-conference slate as we’ve had since I’ve been here. We really look forward to it.”