The men’s basketball team visited Italy for 10 days this August, touring the country’s major cities while playing four Italian professional basketball teams.
The sightseeing was more successful than the basketball, as the Elis dropped three of the four exhibition games against Italian competition.
But players said the on-court problems can easily be fixed when practice resumes in October, whereas the boost to team chemistry the whistle-stop tour provided would be hard to duplicate.
“We were together in a totally different environment, with totally different people, in a totally different culture,” guard Edwin Draughan ’05 said. “We learned together — and we built trust.”
As the Bulldogs traipsed their way through Rome, Milan, Como, Venice and Florence, the team faced increasingly stiffer competition, from Tuscany Select, a semi-pro team that Yale beat, 91-73, to Laurentana, a team in Italy’s top professional league, which defeated the Elis, 109-79.
“There are a million and one excuses you could throw out there as to why we struggled,” forward Ime Archibong ’03 said.
Archibong praised the team’s offensive efforts, as Yale averaged 86 points in the four 40-minute games, played with a 24-second shot clock. His own performance was also impressive, as the 6-foot-3 slashing forward went for 14, 20 and 22 points in the team’s last three games.
Draughan also turned in solid performances, with 20, 18 and 15-point nights.
The trip indicated the team would have the same kind of balance that carried it to an Ivy League championship last season, as Matt Minoff ’04, Paul Vitelli ’04, Josh Hill ’04 and captain Chris Leanza ’03 all turned in solid offensive performances during the course of the trip.
The team had only five days of practice in New Haven before crossing the Atlantic, and the team defense suffered as a result, Archibong said.
“We only had five days to put it together and hope that everyone was going to gel and come together,” Archibong said. “We hoped it was going to happen, but it didn’t happen.”
The players did gel as a team, and increased team chemistry is important, especially considering that all 14 players on the roster will have legitimate expectations of playing time this coming season.
“That is what makes our team special — team chemistry,” Archibong said.