GHENT, Belgium -- It took 22 hours, but the Oklahoma men's basketball team finally reached the first destination on its 11-day Europe trip -- Ghent, Belgium.
The Sooners departed Norman Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. CT, flew from Oklahoma City to Dallas, and then endured a nine-and-a-half hour flight to arrive in Paris, France, at 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. CT). From there the team bussed for three-and-a-half hours to Ghent, which is about 30 miles northwest of the capital city of Brussels.
After arriving at their hotel -- which sits in the heart of the city's medieval skyline -- OU players and staff were on their own for the rest of the afternoon and evening to experience Ghent's impressive scenery and its numerous shops and restaurants.
"It's cool to walk around and see this beautiful place," said sophomore guard Je'lon Hornbeak. "We got to eat the mini crepes and Belgian waffles -- and I want to try a snail when we get back to France, too. But at the same time, we're ready to play basketball."
The travel-weary Sooners don't have much time to recover before their first game, which will take place Thursday at 8 p.m. (1 p.m. CT) against the Ghent Hawks, a semi-pro team.
"Long day, for sure" said Hornbeak of the long trek across the Atlantic Ocean. "Our bodies may be tired but we'll be ready to go tomorrow night. That won't be a problem."
After breakfast on Thursday, the team is scheduled to take a three-hour guided tour of Ghent. Then it's a little rest before the first of five games during OU's week-and-a-half excursion. The Sooners will also play games Friday and Saturday in Belgium before returning to Paris for games Aug. 14 and 15. Between the groups of games, the squad will travel to Normandy, France, to tour the sites of the World War II D-Day invasions.
Players on the trip include seniors Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal, junior D.J. Bennett and James Fraschilla, sophomores Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, Hornbeak and Ryan Spangler, and freshmen Frank Booker, C.J. Cole and Jordan Woodard.
SoonerSports.com will have daily coverage of the team's activities and games.