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International Play Prepares Men’s Basketball
August 29, 2012
The Colonials returned to Foggy Bottom ready for the season after a 10-day trip to Italy.
The George Washington men’s basketball team practiced, played and toured together during a 10-day trip across Italy in mid-August. Led by head coach Mike Lonergan, the student-athletes played five games throughout the country and conducted basketball clinics for children.
“We really tried to maximize everything Italy had to offer in terms of its culture, sights, history and basketball,” said Mr. Lonergan. “Our student-athletes embraced everything that was presented to them.”
The trip began in Rome, where the team spent a day touring the city’s most notable landmarks, including the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus and the Colosseum.
The team then traveled to Naples Aug. 18 to pay their respects to the servicemen and women stationed at CNIC/Naval Support Activity base and to play against the base’s basketball team, whom they defeated 81 to 40.
A drive through the scenic Tuscany region the next day brought the Colonials to Florence, where the itinerary featured Michelangelo’s famous David statue, the Duomo, Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower and Santa Croce, with a view at night from atop the city at Michelangelo Park.
After visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colonials played basketball with soldiers at the U.S. Army base Camp Darby in Naples. Scoring nine three pointers, GW defeated their opponents 97 to 45. Assistant coaches Pete Strickland and Kevin Sutton also conducted a clinic on basketball fundamentals for children on the base.
The Colonials then toured Siena and drove through the Emilia Romagna region to Poggio Rusco, the site of that night’s game.
Despite a recent devastating earthquake, nearly the entire town of Poggio Rusco attended the game. While the Colonials ended up winning 93 to 67 against Primavera Mirandola (also known by its sponsor Dinamica Generale) of Italy’s Nazionale A League, the appreciative crowd was the story of the night.
GW faced its toughest competition of the trip Aug. 23 against Italian power Fortitudo Bologna, a bigger, stronger and more experienced squad than GW had previously faced. Although the Colonials tried to rally, they ended up with their only loss of the trip, 68 to 54. The team fared better against their next game versus the Oleggio Magic on Aug. 24, outscoring their competitors 26 to 7 in the final 10 minutes for a 93 to 58 win.
“In regard to basketball, I think we learned a lot about our newcomers and where the team is in learning our system,” said Mr. Lonergan. “Italy was a great barometer of where we are and what works needs to be done.”
On their final day, the road-weary Buff and Blue relaxed on Lake Como before their trip back to the United States. With memories of a lifetime behind them, the team is looking ahead at what’s to come in the 2012-13 season.
“Learning about the culture of Italy and meeting and greeting the people here was a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience that we all got to enjoy together,” said senior guard Bryan Bynes. “It gave us a jump start to get to know each other on the court, so when we get back to practice we’ll know what to do with one another and how each other plays. This trip really helped us as a team and as a unit to get ready for this upcoming season.”