DAY 4: Men's Basketball in Italy


Sunday was another beautiful day here in Italy. It was also the day of Penn’s first game, the real reason we came over!

Unfortunately, there was not much to be gleaned from today’s contest. The team traveled about an hour from Florence to an American military base, Camp Darby, to face a team that was essentially a mishmash of U.S. military personnel, a few Italian civilians and a few American civvies.

The teams played four 10-minute quarters; the score was 31-14 after one quarter, 58-23 at the half, 87-37 after three quarters, and the final score was 111-42. (Free cheesesteaks at Abner’s, anyone?)

Penn played 11 players, all of them scored, and when the game ended I counted the points in the official “book” -- they had us for 91. So to say who had how many would be a waste of time. Safe to say, it was a layup drill most of the way.

Following the game, we were able to spend time with some of the troops which was pretty cool. They were good guys, and really excited to have us on the base. I think it’s nice for them to have a little home flavor over here.

It was also fun for our followers to see us play. In addition to our travel party, a few sets of parents and siblings are over here -- the Cartwrights have been around our group the last few days, and today the Doughertys joined us and followed the bus to the game. By all accounts, they’ve all been enjoying Italy as much as we have!

We took a slight detour on the way back to Florence – Leaning Tower of Pisa outside the left window of the bus! – but arrived back around 5:30 p.m. By 6, we were back on the bus to be taken into downtown Florence again, where most of the guys grabbed some dinner and walked the streets for a few hours.

Personally, I joined director of operations Julie Greger-Grant and athletic trainer Phil Samko at a restaurant called Il David, right in the Piazza Della Signoria. We sat outside and enjoyed some wine and great food. Several of the players were at another table, while the Bilskys came in as we were finishing up. Coach Allen and his family, it turned out, were one restaurant over. So it was a good choice in terms of location!

We met back up with the bus at 9 p.m., went back to the hotel and enjoyed a few more drinks at the bar before calling it a night. Next stop, Rome! We leave here tomorrow morning for what is expected to be a long drive (Coach says about five hours). We will be there until our flight back to Philly on Friday, with games on Tuesday (in Naples) and Wednesday (in Rome).