Men's Basketball
Garrett Green's Italy Exhibition Tour Diary

Published: June 10, 2011, 04:00 PM (CT)
Updated: June 10, 2011, 12:00 PM (CT)

by Garrett Green, Student Assistant SID

Editor's Note: LSU basketball player Garrett Green is interning this summer in the LSU Sports Information Office as part of a summer class requirement. One of his first projects was to document his views and thoughts on the recent trip to Italy by the LSU team. Here is his first-person account and some of the pictures that were taken on the trip.

Tuesday, May 17

The LSU team heads to the New Orleans airport at 8:00 a.m. getting ready for a trip of a lifetime. The vibes among the players in the locker room that morning was beyond excited to be able to travel to another country. Most of the players knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we were very grateful.

Wednesday, May 18

After a ten-and-a-half hour plane ride, we finally arrived! The players could not wait to get on their feet and explore Rome. With little time to waste we were out and about on the streets of Rome learning about the Roman Empire which used to be the largest and most powerful empire in the world. Our team was stunned by all of the amazing architecture that surrounded us. I could not believe my eyes and what I was witnessing. The architecture of the buildings and sculptures that I used to read about in books when I was growing up does not capture the real vibe you get when you experience it in person. The atmosphere is astonishing, and everything was picture perfect.

Thursday, May 19

It still feels too good to be true to be waking up in Rome. We had an early morning breakfast with the team in the hotel lobby at 8:30 a.m.  The team was mentally preparing for our game later that evening. The whole team was excited to get on the court and play our first European team. After having a long spring training with high intensity workouts, you could see that the players had a very impatient look on their faces. We could not wait to get on the floor and show these European teams what LSU is all about. With a successful victory we ended up beating Virtus Frusino, 107-60. As a team we were not satisfied with our first European tour victory because we knew that each game would get a little bit harder. We had to stay focused, and get ready to take on our next opponents. 

Friday, May 20

We have an 8:30 a.m. team breakfast in the hotel lobby. I am not quite used to the time change yet, but the breakfast was amazing and definitely worth the early morning wake up. Italian food is amazing! It is nothing like your typical Olive Garden chain.  All of the food is fresh and delicately cooked. My favorite course by far is the desserts which are very rich in flavor, and I never could seem to eat enough.

Today we play our second European team the Anagni Basket. We knew that the competition was going to be much better than the day before, and would continue to get better each game we played. As a team we made sure that we kept focused on the task at hand, and that we were mentally and physically ready to leave everything out on the court. Before the game we had a lot of down time to rest or explore Rome. The majority of the players stayed in the hotel and saved their legs for the game.

Game time! The Anagni Basket put up a really good battle in the first half. We continued to pressure them on the defensive end, and started to execute very well on the offense.  We started to separate ourselves late in the fourth quarter, and we came away with a 99-77 win over the Anagni Basket. The fans were very nice and thankful that we were able to play at their arena. We took a giant team photo with both teams, and then walked around the stadium to show mutual respect and thanked the Anagni Basket fans for coming out to watch us play.

After the game we went out to eat as a team. It was an absolute treat to eat at the La Galleria di Sopra in the city of Albano, which was by the Pope's summer home. We ate in a special room upstairs where the Pope would go to relax during the summer to enjoy a good Italian meal. The food was absolutely delicious. We were all full to our stomachs, and ready for a good night sleep.

Saturday, May 21

This is our last day in Rome, and we started it off with a team tour to the Colosseum. The Colosseum is a very well know monument in Rome for its brutal games. Most people can relate to the Coliseum through the movie Gladiator, but you really need to see it in person to be able to get the true vibe of the atmosphere. The Colosseum was a place that held competitions with gladiators that fought to their death in front of thousands of fans that roared and applauded the victors for their courageous battles and for their strength and skills with the sw0rd. The team is thankful for being able to have this opportunity to go inside the Colosseum and learn about the Roman history. It was a very educational experience that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Today we have our last game in Rome, and collectively as a team we want to leave Rome on a good note. We play, Selezione Basket Rome which was a local team. They were no match for the LSU Tigers, but Coach Johnson still made it clear that it does not matter who walks out onto the court. We still need to maintain a high level of energy on the defensive end throughout the whole course of the game. We had another successful victory, 88-59, and this rapped up a successful trip in Rome... Next stop Florence.

Sunday, May 22

Early morning departure to Florence and the team is very excited to explore a new city in Italy. It was a four and a half hour bus drive and we have finally arrived. We are staying at the Grand Hotel Baglioni. This is one of the nicer hotels in Florence located right by the famous Cathedral known as the Duomo which is in the dead center of the town. I joined a couple of the players on a walk to explore the city when we got sucked into camera frenzy for the Jersey Shore spot light. For a couple minutes we were asked to go meet "Snooki" and "Jwoww" of the Jersey Shore cast. It was a fun experience, and they seemed like very nice people. 

Monday, May 23

We had an early departure from the Grand Hotel Baglioni, and we were now on our way to Varese. It was about a three hour bus ride, and the team looked exhausted. We definitely used this bus trip to catch up on some sleep. We have arrived in the city of Gazzada a suburb of the city Varese. Our hotel was very nice, and the court yard in the back had an amazing view of the Varese Lake. The players never really seemed to fit in the European beds, but Andrew (Del Piero) our seven foot three inch tall walk-on seemed the most uncomfortable out of the group.

We had a team practice later that evening that was a great bonding experience for the guys. Throughout the practice our team looked more willing to give up their body in diving for loose balls or taking charges. We were doing whatever it took to win. We were definitely ready to take on our next opponents. 

Tuesday, May 24

Today we had an early morning shoot around so we can get a feel for the court that we are going to play on later in the evening. Shoot around gives the players a chance to get up some extra shots before a game which allows us to get a feel for the rim and the court. We normally split up in groups by position.  Coach (Brent) Scott works with the post players, and Coach G (Donny Guerinoni) specializes with the guards. Coach Nick (Robinson) worked with the forwards/centers with their technique, and taking good shots in our offense. Coach Johnson facilitates the shoot around, and is very involved with each group. Coach Johnson makes sure that every player is mentally preparing themselves for the game, and keeping a high level of intensity throughout the whole shoot around. He strictly makes sure that the players continue to work on getting game shots at game speed throughout the whole workout.

We ended up beating the Elmec Varese 87-62 later that night. The team was really starting to click on the court, and the team camaraderie was amazing.  After this win we could not wait to play our next opponents. 

Wednesday, May 25

These are our last days here in Italy, and the players were not letting a second go to waste. We took an early morning team trip to Milan which was about a forty five minute bus drive. Milan is a very well known tourist attraction. They have high end fashion stores that attract lots of celebrities. This was a great opportunity for the players to buy some gifts for their family members back home.

Later that evening we played the Armani  Junior team. This was by far the best competition we have played throughout the course of our trip, and they put up a great battle all the way to the end. We ended up winning, 82-51. We executed very well in the post and on the perimeter throughout the whole game, and our depth in every position really helped with substitution. This was definitely a game that helped us grow confidence in ourselves as a team,

Thursday, May 26

This is our last full day in Italy, and most of the players miss home a little but are not quite ready to leave yet. We are taking our last team trip to Lake Como which is located in the city of Milan. This is by far one of my favorite adventures. We took a private boat tour around the lake, and learned about the rich history that surrounded the water. I was stunned by the architecture of all the mansions that surrounded the water. It was truly a sight to see. We took a quick pit stop on the other side of the lake to look around the town, and buy some souvenirs. After that we had an amazing breakfast on the hilltop of Lake Como that overlooked the water. I have never been so thankful in my life to have this opportunity to travel to this part of the world, and the team was very thankful for being able to go on a trip to Italy.

The trip is not over yet! We still have one more game to win to end our Italy tour on a good note. We played Basket 7 Laghi of Gazzada Schianno. They were a pretty good team that fought really hard all the way to the end, but still was not a match for our LSU Tigers. The final score was 92-74.

This wrapped up a successful trip to Italy. We went undefeated in all six games, and definitely left a mark to remember. This wraps up our Italian tour and it was now time to get packed and ready for an early flight home back to Baton Rouge the next morning.  The team is not looking forward to the ten-hour flight back to Baton Rouge, but we cannot wait to get back and start our summer workouts for the new season. As a team we are definitely going to build off this trip, and continue to push ourselves to be the best we can be.

 

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