Men's Basketball

SMU Basketball - Tour d' Africa

MAY 28 :: TRIP TO ST. LOUIS (Bamba/Papa's Home)


On Wednesday, the Mustangs took a trip to St. Louis, Senegal, which is the hometown of senior center Bamba Fall and sophomore forward Papa Dia. Fall wrote about the experience and emotion of taking his "United States family" to see his family in Senegal.

Thursday is the Mustangs last full day in Senegal. The team has a 1.5 hour basketball clinic for students and coaches at the SEEDS Academy in Dakar. The Mustangs will then face the SEEDS Academy in an exhibition game during the afternoon. The day ends with an excursion to Pink Lake for dinner. According to Senegal's Tourism site, the lake appears pink due to the high salt content and shallow levels.

Blog - May 28
Bamba Fall - SMU, senior center
Native of St. Louis, Senegal

Today we visited St. Louis, Senegal. St. Louis is mine and Papa Dia's (sophomore forward) hometown. We have been staying in Dakar the past three days and drove to St. Louis today. We left at 10:30 am, and finally arrived at 4 pm. The drive was only supposed to take 3.5 hours, but it took extra because of heavy traffic from Dakar to Thies.

When we finally arrived in St. Louis, we went to my Mom's school. She is an economics teacher at CRETF. She showed the team the school and what they do at the school. We saw a few students working on their pottery and their fashion design. From there my mom rode the bus with us to see Papa Dia's family. We got there and his whole family was very excited to see us. They welcomed us to the house, gave us a tour, and fed us some thiebou yab. The team really liked the food. We saw Papa's and my old friends and family. Papa has an old basketball hoop behind his house on which myself, Papa, Papa's dad, and Coach Doherty shot around.

After that, we took the bus back to my house to see my family. It was the first time I have seen my entire family in more than three years. It was great to see them. I saw my extended family as well (uncles, cousins, old friends). Yesterday was my birthday, so it was especially meaningful for me to see my family at this time. I really like the fact that the whole team came to see them. Now my family has a sense of relief because this is the first time they have met my United States family. The whole neighborhood came out of their homes to visit. This was probably my best day in college basketball ever. I never thought that my team and family would ever meet, much less come all the way to St. Louis. It was very emotional for me.

To me, this is what college basketball should be all about. I have a basketball family, and now they have met my real family. This will bring our team closer together as a group, but also bring my two families closer together. I am glad that our team got to do this, and I think that other college basketball teams should do similar things. Visiting Africa is not just good for players from Africa, but the cultural experience and education is very important and beneficial. Our team has learned about a different culture and has a different view of the world now.

Blog - May 28
Head Coach Matt Doherty

"Great Day!"

As a coach you have many ups and downs on the court and off the court. I have been coaching since 1989 and Wednesday was one of the best days in my coaching career.....and we didn't play a game!

Our day started with a long bus ride from Dakar to St. Louis. We were told the ride could take 2 ½ hours......3 hours.....5 hours.....the final number of hours ended up being 5 ½ hours with a couple of stops. Here are some highlights of the ride:
-  At one of our stops we came across a young man who worked for the Peace Corp who once attended SMU! Talking small world, or what???
-  Mangos were sold road side all over the place
-  Driving north toward the Sahara Desert you could feel the heat with each bad....with each kilometer we drove!
-  Yesterday I bought an international cell phone for Kelly to use to check on her ill mother. Today she used that phone on the ride and talked to her brother! A piece of plastic the size of a bar of soap can be used from Africa to call home in Dallas! That blows my mind!
-  Tomasz bought a little drum on one of the stops and later Papa was playing the drum in back of the bus while some of the guys starting singing. Some serious team building was going on there.
-  We ate a late lunch on the Isle of St. Louis, over looking the water and the first bridge built in West Africa. Mactar N'Diaye , one of our hosts, gave us a talk on the history of Senegal and how it relates to France. Senegal was a French colony before gaining independence and now the relationship between France and Senegal is strained, even as some of the people of Senegal are considered French. Interesting politics and it was a great learning experience for our players as they are taking a class on Africa. Mactar was a great "guest lecturer".
-  We visited Bamba's mother at the school where she works. She gave the team a tour and we met many of the ladies she works with. She teaches home economics and math.
-  We visited Papa's house and met his parents, a sister and a brother, aunts, cousins and some of his childhood friends. They gave us a nice tour of his home along with a terrific meal. It was a festive event. His mother gave me a gift of a historic picture of a market in St. Louis that I plan on hanging in my new office.
-  We visited Bamba's house. His home is centuries old and has been in his family a long time. We met his brother, who looks just like Bamba, and many family friends. It was another festive event as Bamba hasn't been home in three years.

We are on the bus back to Dakar after a long day. It is 9:30pm here and we may not get back to the hotel until after midnight, but it was well worth it. If nothing else happens, today was worth the time and money put into this trip. Our players gained so much knowledge of Senegal, they bonded as a team, they got to meet the families of teammates and we all got to see the love and sense of family that surrounds Bamba and Papa and the people of Senegal. It was a VERY powerful experience!

Tomorrow we put on a clinic at SEEDS Academy where Bamba, Papa and Mouhammed attended. We want to give back and we hope this is a great way of doing that.

Pony Up!
Coach Doh

May 18-24 - Preparation - Class & Practice
May 25 - Dallas to Dakar, Senegal
May 26 - First Practice
May 27 - Visit Goree Island
May 27 - Game 1 (Senegalese Nat. Team)
May 28 - Trip to St. Louis (Bamba/Papa's Home)
May 29 - Clinic 1: at SEEDS Academy
May 30 - Dakar to Johannesburg, South Africa
May 31 - Clinic 2: Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Centre
May 31 - Tour Pretoria (capital of S. Africa)
June 1 - Game 3: vs. South African National Team
June 2 - Tour Soweto
June 2 - Visit Lesedi Cultural Village
June 3 - Safari at Pilanesburg Nat. Park
June 4 - Game 4: South African Club Team
June 5 - Johannesburg, South Africa to Dallas

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