Men’s basketball travels on summer excursion to Italy

The men’s basketball team had quite an interesting summer when eleven players and two coaches from the men’s team traveled to Italy in August for 11 days to play basketball and tour the country.

The team flew into Milan and then drove to Lake Como and stayed there for a couple of days. They then traveled south to Verona and explored the city, including a visit to the amphitheater that provided the model for the Coliseum. The team then traveled to Venice, Florence and ended their tour of Italy in the capital, Rome.

The team played four games total, two against Italian club teams, one against Dream Team Italy and the last one against KK Mornar Bar, a Serbian team. Wooster went 2 -2.

The team easily handled Amici del Campetto Castellanza 85-47 on Aug. 12. The next day, the team rolled to another easy win with a 94-54 blowout victory over the Senzione Martellago Giants.

The team’s most impressive performance may have come in a loss though. The team played KK Mornar Bar, a team that had handed Div. I Monmouth University 63-62. The Scots played a fine game and led for a majority of it, but in the end fell 70-66.

“We definitely could have won all four games,” said forward Marty Bidwell ’09.

“Two of the teams we played (the club teams) were terrible, but the last two were very good. The teams we played were professional teams [that] consisted of guys who were all older than us. It was a lot different playing in a different country because none of us could understand what any of the referees were saying. They would make a call and say something in Italian and we would all just look around and have to keep playing,” Bidwell added.

Basketball, however, was not the only thing that occupied the team for the 11 days spent in Italy.

“In Venice we did a lot of shopping,” said point guard Brandon Johnson ’09. “Rome was probably my favorite place. It was huge so there was a lot to do. It had so much enriched history behind [everything] and [there were] so many beautiful women.”

Bidwell and Johnson traveled with Kaleb Reed ’11, Julian Mangano ’10, Marcus Mitchell ’11, Bryan Wickliffe ’11, Dustin Geitgey ’10, Ian Franks ’11, Robert Melick ’10, Evan Will ’08 and Craig Elam ’10, along with head coach Steve Moore and assistant coach Doug Cline.

“When we weren’t playing, we were touring,” Johnson said. “We had set appointments in lots of places and a tour guide that scheduled out every hour of the trip. We stayed pretty busy except one optional day [that] we took off,” said Johnson. He also noted that the team got an opportunity to see the first church ever built.

The team travels together every three or four years. “Because we are student athletes, we don’t really have the option of going abroad for a semester. It is a great opportunity for learning and growing through the experience.” Said Johnson, who thought Italy was an illustrious choice for this past basketball trip.

“To be able to go to Italy and see sights such as the Coliseum, the leaning tower of Pisa and the Vatican, on top of playing basketball, [is] unbelievable. [It was] the trip of a lifetime” said Bidwell.

This past off-season, the basketball team lost several players to graduation. “I am looking forward to playing with a new set of guys,” said Johnson. “This year our team will definitely have a new identity because of the players we lost from last year. I am not exactly sure what the identity will be, and I guess that’s what I’m looking forward to most.”