Before the start of the semester, the Men’s Basketball team took a trip through Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, where they scrimmaged several local basketball teams. In addition to their games, the team also had the opportunity to explore Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki, and learn about the region’s culture.
The team started their trip in Copenhagen, where they played a pair of games in two days. The first game was against Danish professional club BMK Wolfpack, who finished second in last year’s league standings. The Garnet won the game handily with a final score of 77-54. The following day, the team played Værløse BBK, which competes in the same division as BMK Wolfpack. The Garnet, again, dominated, winning this time by 30 points. After the game, the team was treated to a surprise by Værløse BBK – the club had organized dinner for the visiting Garnet.
“After our second game in Copenhagen, the coach had it set up for them to bring in some dinner for us, and he had a projector set up, so our guys could watch the USA [Olympic] basketball game. They were in the semifinals at the time,” said Head Coach Kosmalski. The game marked the end of their time in Copenhagen and the team flew to Stockholm the next day. Kosmalski has a personal connection to the region and he was motivated to make the team’s time in Stockholm special.
“When I played my first year in Sweden, I played for a team called 08 Alvik. 08 is the area code for Stockholm, and the club was called 08 Human Rights,” Kosmalski said. After his first year playing, the team separated into two clubs, Alvik BK and 08 Stockholm. Kosmalski continued to play for 08 Stockholm, and as a result, grew fond of Stockholm.
“For me, having played in Stockholm, it’s a really special place,” recalled Kosmalski. “Being able to give our guys a subway pass, so they’re able to get out and do stuff on their own during the day and give them that freedom, and also get to experience what makes Stockholm really special, was good.” Kosmalski also mentioned his satisfaction with being able to give the team an experience abroad, noting the difficulty of studying abroad for athletes with winter seasons.
“[The team] got to spend ten days abroad and experience different cultures, and I think that was really good for everyone,” said Kosmalski.
While in Stockholm, the team brushed up against a part of Kosmalski’s past when they played Alvik BK, the aforementioned offshoot of his former club. Down at halftime, the Garnet played an impressive second half to win the game 83-59. The team played their fourth and final game of the trip the following day against AIK Basket. While the Garnet were unable to go undefeated throughout their trip, losing 71-63 against AIK, Coach Kosmalski was impressed by his team’s ability to respond to being in a tough situation.
“We just didn’t really get a chance to take the lead at the end, but we cut it to one with about four or five minutes to go. We’d been down twenty in the first half,” said Kosmalski. There was also an age difference between the AIK and Garnet teams, which presented a challenge for Swarthmore due to what Kosmalski called the “physicality and savvy” of some of the older players on AIK. He also mentioned how the team had to adjust from NCAA to International Basketball Federation rules, which include differences such as playing for four quarters instead of two halves and a three-point line further from the rim. Overall, Kosmalski was pleased with his team’s attitude towards the challenges they faced, and said that he was grateful for the chance to face those challenges.
“Being in an uncomfortable environment and facing some adversity was really good for us,” added Kosmalski. According to Kosmalski, the team looked prepared to compete from the first game abroad.
He noted that “our guys came in really ready to play […] all of our returners played last year.” Coming off of a program-record 22-8 season in 2015-16, there are high expectations for the team this year. The team’s experience abroad this summer will surely be an asset in the upcoming season, with Kosmalski stating that “you never know what’ll happen as long as you stay positive and keep working together.”
Swarthmore Men’s Basketball opens its 2016-17 season with a game against Penn State Abington on Tuesday, November 15th, at 8:00 PM in the Tarble Gymnasium.