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Studying basketball abroad

MU hoops
Jul. 11, 2013 @ 11:50 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall men's basketball players have been in the gym this week to sharpen their games in preparation for the 2013-14 season.

For a pair of Marshall returnees, though, the trek to the Cam Henderson Center continues a summer in which they have not only grown on the basketball court, but culturally as well.

Guard Tamron Manning and post player J.P. Kambola traveled abroad this summer with Manning heading to the Dominican Republic and Kambola getting to experience what China has to offer.

According to Marshall coach Tom Herrion, the benefits of such a trip are immeasurable.

"It's totally a multi-dimensional opportunity when they go," Herrion said. "Selfishly, they get an opportunity to practice and/or play. Especially for J.P., we needed to get him some games because one thing he lacks is game experience, so that was invaluable. Tamron played really well, as well.

"But it's also a service mission. They are giving back on those trips to the respective communities they visit and spend time with. Then, they are also learning. I think it's educational. I don't know if J.P. Kambola ever thought he'd go to China in his life and he's already been."

Manning thrived while in the Dominican, taking part in games at both the point guard and shooting guard spots.

He said he liked the different styles that he saw while playing there.

"They like to shoot a lot of threes -- especially the posts -- but it's really physical there," Manning said. "They don't call a lot of fouls. Going to the Dominican was a big confidence boost. It showed that I can play against people across the country. Also, just playing games in the summer is something you normally don't get to do."

While the game-play opened Manning's eyes on the court, there was an aspect off the court which he said could impact his game the most this season.

Due to language barriers throughout certain parts of the trip, Manning had to learn to use signals and more non-verbal communication with those in the country.

He said that could greatly help his game -- especially in loud venues.

"It translates to the court a lot because once it gets packed in here you can't really talk much," Manning said. "You have to use hand signals. Having that different form of communication is a big thing in basketball because you have to use your eyes, your hands and body language. It helped a lot with the communication aspect of basketball."

Kambola's trip to China featured seven games of experience, which not only allowed him to gain valuable on-court experience, but also learn a different set of rules.

International contests are played under FIBA rules, which differ from the American rules set forth for game play.

"It's exciting, actually, to play FIBA rules," Kambola said. "It's a lot different from American rules so it was a good experience for me. It was probably the most difficult thing, too -- to play FIBA rules -- because a lot of those guys play in international games and they know how to block shots off the rim and things like that. Those were things we weren't familiar with, but we got used to doing."

One thing that Kambola said was difficult for him to adjust to was authentic Chinese food, which he said wasn't bad, just different.

He admitted that he lost some weight while over there, which Herrion joked about.

"Him losing weight, that was okay," said Herrion with a smile. "I didn't mind that too much with J.P."

Kambola said there was one saving grace that frequented his dinner menu while bringing the American flavor to his meal.

"They had a lot of KFCs and things over there, so when we had some free time I'd run down there," Kambola said.

Kambola said the food didn't detract from the terrific opportunity he was given, and it wasn't a hard decision when given the option to make the trek to China.

"It wasn't much of a hard decision," Kambola said. "Being able to leave the country, that's not something that you get the opportunity to do every day, so when I was offered that choice, I wanted to take it."

Now back in Huntington, Manning and Kambola are getting ready for the 2013-14 season. According to Manning, that includes hitting the weight room, working on the fundamentals and building chemistry with new teammates.

Those are all things they also emphasized while studying the game abroad.

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