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Purdue charts course for August trip to Italy

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Purdue v Kansas

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 18: Head coach Matt Painter of the Purdue Boilermakers coaches in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 18, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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The NCAA allows teams to take an off-season trip once every four years, and the experience can be a beneficial one in multiple ways.

While the basketball side of the experience means extra practice time and games against unfamiliar opponents, there’s also the benefit of experiencing an unfamiliar culture.

That’s what awaits Purdue in August, as they’ll take a 10-day tour of Italy featuring stops in Rome, Florence, Venice and Lake Como.

The trip comes at a good time for the Boilermakers from a basketball standpoint, as Matt Painter and his staff need to account for the departure of seniors Lewis Jackson, Robbie Hummel and Ryne Smith.

NCAA rules allow programs to hold ten practices before the trip, and incoming freshmen are allowed to take part as well.

That’s big for Purdue as they’ll need their four freshmen, center A.J. Hammons, guard Ronnie Johnson and forwards Raphael Davis and Jay Simpson, to be ready to contribute in 2012-13.

On the early itinerary are trips to the Vatican, Colosseum and Pisa, and the sampling of local cuisine is one that highlights any international trip (wonder what interesting foods the Boilers may encounter in Italy).

Purdue’s last overseas trip came in 2008 when the program went to Australia, and that trip paid off in the form of the program’s first-ever Big Ten tournament title and a Sweet 16 appearance.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.