Penn stars happy to extend playing days Eric Moore headed off to live in Beauvois, France, back on Aug. 2 with absolutely zero experience speaking the native language. "I have my 'Introduction to French' book and I'm just going to keep it with me at all times," said Moore, the '95 grad who spent the last three years starting at center for the Penn men's basketball team. Just how long he'll spend crashing the boards and muscling inside for points in Beauvois is uncertain right now. All Moore knows is he is thrilled to have the chance to continue playing basketball, albeit in completely foreign surroundings. "I'm real excited," he said. "I'm also pretty nervous." Inner-city Detroit native Shawn Trice -- who started with Moore in the Penn frontcourt for three seasons -- has never come close to speaking a word of Swedish. But he is well-versed in the game of basketball, and that is all a team called Kvarnby in Gsteburg, Sweden, needed to know. Trice signed with Kvarnby in mid-August and went over Aug. 20. Today, more than ever, Europe wants basketball. But today, as much as ever, basketball is America's game and is played best by Americans. It follows, then, that Europe wants Americans to play the game for it. That's where good-but-not-NBA-caliber college players like Trice and Moore come in. The money is somewhat better than the starting salaries they could expect from a standard nine-to-five desk job, and the opportunity to see exotic new places is another compelling reason. Above all, Penn coach Fran Dunphy said, is "the desire to not stop playing. The opportunity is there to keep doing something they love. Why not take it?" Scouting is not nearly as sophisticated across the Atlantic as it is in the NBA. Teams in most European leagues adhere to a "call us, we won't call you" policy in getting acquainted with foreign players. That meant some work for Trice and Moore as far as letting European teams know there were a couple of University of Pennsylvania graduates out there who might want to play for them. Their first step was putting together videotapes of themselves following Penn's 1994-95 season. Then they contacted agents whose specific line of work is finding spots for American players on European teams. Those agents delivered tapes of Trice and Moore to numerous clubs, and the two Quakers were seen on tape by teams in national leagues throughout the continent. For a while, Trice and Moore, who are close friends, had visions of playing together overseas. "We worked out together during the summer [at Penn], exchanged tapes and just talked about the situation almost every day," Moore said. "It looked like we might be able to play together in Sweden, but then that fell through for me." Moore chose France over a standing offer from a team in England and one from a team in Cyprus. "It was the first offer I got that I really liked," he said. "It has good enough money and you get good exposure to other countries with more prestigious leagues" -- namely Italy, Greece and Spain, where most of the NBA-caliber players can be found in Europe. The opportunity to advance up the ladder in Europe is attractive to Moore. He has a far better chance to grab the attention of a team in a country such as Italy, Greece or Spain while playing in France than he does to turn the head of an NBA club while playing in the CBA or the USBL here in the States. Plus most of the cities to which he'll be traveling in France have a certain appeal that, say, Jersey City of the USBL or Albany, N.Y., of the CBA do not. Trice chose Kvarnby over offers from teams based in London and Luxembourg. Kvarnby (Trice didn't bother trying to pronounce the word) competes in Sweden's top basketball division. That was about all Trice knew as far as what to expect in Sweden. He did not mention buying an "Introduction to Swedish" book. "The whole thing should be quite an experience," he said. "But I hear there are a lot of people over there who know English, so hopefully I won't have too hard a time." The money is good. Nothing close to the legendary multimillion dollar contracts given to players such as Toni Kukoc in Europe will be coming the way of either Quaker any time soon, however. Trice called his probable starting salary "a decent amount for someone starting out. It's only a few guys who have been in the NBA and play in Italy and Greece who get the huge amounts." Moore indicated his annual salary will be under six figures but added he was "very happy" with his financial situation. Trice doesn't want to pursue a full-length playing career in Europe. "I don't think I want to be there that long," he said. His long-term goal, he has said, is to teach elementary school in his home city. He simply isn't ready to stop playing basketball just yet. Moore isn't sure what the future holds for him. "I'd like to just get over there and take it a year at a time," he said. "I don't know how much I'll enjoy it or how much I'll miss my family and girlfriend. To be honest, I have no idea at all what it's going to be like. I can't wait to go find out, though."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.