As Thanksgiving approaches, women's collegiate basketball teams are preparing for tropical tournaments, including LSU.
The inaugural Cayman Islands women's tournament begins on Friday with top-tier teams like No. 7 LSU, No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 UConn, and No. 9 Virginia Tech. The participation of star athlete Angel Reese is unclear for LSU.
Tigers star Reese has missed the team's last two games and was benched for the second half of the previous game. Her absence has not been explained, raising questions about her tournament availability.
Coach Kim Mulkey stressed the significance of player privacy and discretely handling team affairs. “You always have to deal with locker-room issues,” Mulkey told the Associated Press after LSU's Monday win over Texas Southern. I'll always safeguard my players. They're like family.”
While LSU and Reese's absence are in the spotlight, other elite teams are ready for international action. Third-ranked Colorado and No. 10 NC State play in the Virgin Islands, while No. 8 USC plays in the Bahamas.
After opening their 2023-24 season with a thrilling international game in Paris versus Notre Dame, top-ranked South Carolina stayed home for the vacation. Dawn Staley, South Carolina's coach, says holiday tournaments abroad offer team bonding and cultural opportunities off the court.
“I do think it's super helpful to get out of your normal environment, your normal habits of actually being at home or it's not a natural road game,” Daley said.
“When in another country, you stick together more. You get to see sites, snap pictures, and talk about how they're feeling and what's going on, not just practice and games.
No. 4 Stanford is travelling to Nevada for a domestic tournament. Friday brings Caitlin Clark and fifth-ranked Iowa to Florida. Stanford and Iowa can play No. 13 Florida State and No. 18 North Carolina in these tournaments.