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Iowa to help open new arena in London during overseas trip

Jun 28, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT

Fran McCaffery AP

Last month the Iowa basketball program announced preliminary plans for its summer trip to Europe, with Fran McCaffery’s team making stops in both Paris and London. The Hawkeyes fell short of their goal of earning a bid to the NCAA tournament last season, instead landing in the Postseason NIT where they reached the title game before falling to Baylor.

With every major contributor outside of guard Eric May returning to Iowa City, a return to the Big Dance is just one of the expectations Hawkeye fans have for their team in 2013-14. With that in mind, McCaffery is hopeful that Iowa will use its road trip as a springboard to a special season as his teams at UNCG and Siena were able to.

“When I was with Greensboro, we ended up winning 20 games and the regular season championship and were invited to the NIT,” McCaffery said in May.

“At Siena, we were a championship team who wanted to come back and be a championship team. We wanted to take it to the next level and that was the year we beat Ohio State in the first round in 2009 in the NCAA Tournament, and almost beat top-seeded Louisville in the second round. I equate that experience with our opportunities we had the previous summer.”

Iowa hasn’t announced the full schedule of games for its trip overseas, but one of the match-ups will be against the London Lions as the British Basketball League team will open its new arena on August 14. The Copper Box Arena was used as a handball and modern pentathalon (fencing) venue for the 2012 London Olympics.

“We are delighted to have such a respected university as our first opponents at the Copper Box Arena,” said Lions head coach Vince Macaulay. “It’s just the kind of test we need to get the ball rolling.”

The game will also serve as a homecoming for Iowa center Gabe Olaseni, who is a native of London.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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