Italian experience deemed success

McBee 6-for-9 from 3 as Vols go 4-0 overseas

Tennessee men's basketball spent its final day in Italy traveling in style. The Vols explored Lake Como Tuesday on a hour-long boat trip to Bellagio. Not a bad way to spend a final day abroad. Afterwards UT rolled to a 50-point win over an Italian professional team and secured a 4-0 record on its overseas tour.

Photo by Brendan Quinn/News Sentinel

Tennessee men's basketball spent its final day in Italy traveling in style. The Vols explored Lake Como Tuesday on a hour-long boat trip to Bellagio. Not a bad way to spend a final day abroad. Afterwards UT rolled to a 50-point win over an Italian professional team and secured a 4-0 record on its overseas tour.

Vols 4-0 as they leave Italy

CASTELLANZA, Italy — The bus pulled out of the Pala Borsani gym parking lot. Still in uniform, the Tennessee players sang together. There was laughter, high-fiving, smack talking.

The Vols' 10-day basketball tour of Italy can be deemed a success. The team came together, traveled together, sightsaw together, stayed together and won together.

Four games, four cities, four wins.

"More importantly than anything, the guys did what they were supposed to do," coach Cuonzo Martin said before boarding the bus back to Como for UT's final night in Italy. "We came to win games. The guys got a chance to play and I got a chance to play a lot of different lineups and use some different rotations."

Tuesday night's hodgepodge of lineups produced a 109-59 victory in the Vols' Italian finale against Amici del Campetto. The win capped off the tour as UT passed its four international tests and outscored its opponents by and average of 49.3 points a game.

In the first three games, senior Skylar McBee gradually found his stroke. The 3-point line is more than a foot deeper overseas and the international ball has a slicker texture and different stitching. He got the hang of it before returning stateside.

McBee drilled three 3-pointers in an 11-2 UT run Tuesday that closed the first half giving the Vols a 56-32 lead. He finished with a game-high 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc.

"It takes a little getting used to, but by the last two games I definitely got the feel for it," McBee said. "The games went by quickly and I only took five or six shots in the first two, so it was pretty hard to find that touch."

The whole trip — from Rome to Florence to San Marino to Como — went by quickly, but ended in style.

Tuesday began with a rudder carving through Lake Como, hugging the coastline north to

ward Bellagio. A canopy of pink, tangerine, beige and sunflower villas bordered the lake. The Grigna Mountains provided an olive backdrop.

After nine days of walking tours through the ruins of Rome, the cobblestone streets of Florence and up the spiral steps of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a breezy boat ride offered some welcomed leisure.

An hour was spent in Bellagio, an aristocratic waterfront town at the intersection of the three branches of Y-shaped Lake Como. The boat sped back to Como soon after.

If you have one last day in Italy, that's how you spend it.

"You don't see that every day," Martin said. "Just beautiful."

As night fell over Como, UT traveled to Castellanza, about 40 kilometers outside Como. A game, that wasn't much of a game, awaited.

The Vols jumped out to a 24-14 first-quarter lead despite some sloppy play against the Italians' zone defense. Once McBee warmed up in the second quarter, though, it was over.

"Once you start making shots against a zone, it's no longer a zone," Martin quipped.

Sophomore center Yemi Makanjuola, who gradually improved during the course of the tour, posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"He's definitely made progress," Martin said. "With a year under his belt, he's gotten more explosive. He's going up with more power around the rim, but also doing a better job of finishing with a soft touch."

Freshman Armani Moore also finished with 16, while junior college transfer D'Montre Edwards pulled down 13 boards. Both played well throughout UT's four games and, along with freshman Derek Reese (did not play due to a torn labrum), transitioned from newcomers to teammates.

"We gained a lot of chemistry with the new guys," said junior Jordan McRae. "Everybody got to really know each other on the trip. There's TV, but it's not English. There's really not a lot you can do beside hang out. We had a lot of laughs."

Now it's back to Knoxville. The Vols will head stateside at 9:50 a.m. local time (3:50 a.m. EDT) and arrive in Atlanta at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

Carry-on luggage will include four wins and countless memories.

"It was an amazing experience — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," McRae said.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 25

lstbodeanvol writes:

A good experience for these young men. I believe we have the right coach for this team although Im sure Florida is not thrilled about it...Go Vols..Go Coach Martin and staff !!!!!

atnvol#283282 writes:

I second the thoughts of a first class coach who has the players best interest as a priority. I think they will make major noise in the SEC and the Dance.

tovolny writes:

I am very pleased with our BB team. These guys represented UT with class. I moved Coach Martin up several notches. He seems to have that special touch that comes from trust and respect. GoVols!

Wayfarer writes:

I was lucky enough to travel overseas one summer of college, not to play a sport but to study, and there is rarely a day that goes by I don't think of it in some way. These young men have made memories together that will last a lifetime, as well as forged relationships and bonds that will help them as a team in the next couple of years. Coach Martin and his staff should be commended for their planning of the trip and the educational course they put together for the team. It's going to fun to watch this team when the new season begins. GBO

mocsandvolsfan writes:

WTG GBO!

May God keep you safe as you return home. It's great to see kids learn and grow. I feel this was an excellent trip for our Vols on and off the court.
Who do we play next? Let's get it goin'!!

SouthPaVol writes:

I had the pleasure of living in Europe for seven years before returning home to E TN. Lake Como is breath-taking place, there is no doubt. Glad the Vols were able to see it.

Much more important for this Big Orange fan is their time spent jelling as a team. The practices before leaving Knoxville and now 10 days abroad should put us in good standing.

My left handed comment: Yemi is going to push for playing time. His heart is huge and he plays quicker than anyone we have had in a long time. I know Benard King played guard in the NBA, but while at Tennessee, he often posted inside and was a great player with his back to the basket. King's quick release was almost unstoppable. YM is no BK, but as he learns the game of basketball, CCM will find it hard to keep him on the bench. He may become a Bobby Jones-like sixth man the Vols need to win a championship.

johnlg00 writes:

I join others in extolling the virtues of foreign travel, both for basketball teams and for ordinary citizens. They will no longer assume that there is only one universally correct way to see, do, and think things. They have a whole new standard for comparison of everything. Whatever virtues they embody or choices they make will have a new meaning and a new context.

Purely on a basketball level, the constant interaction off the court could well result in better communication on the court. It is all too easy for players to retreat into their own heads when they play the game, to be locked onto their own man when they should be looking for ways to help, to be looking for their own shot when somebody else is in better position. Players who know how to make non-verbal communication--eye contact, subtle signals of intention, warnings of screens, pointing out uncovered opponents--become a fully-engaged team whose total effect exceeds the sum of its parts. They learn to "hunt" the way a wolf-pack does, rather than as the proverbial "lone wolf" does; as a military unit rather than a band of rag-tag tribal warriors.

theotherside writes:

WHO, pray tell, paid for this trip? And what value does it have for the sport or the University? Looks more like a paid vacation for some already-pampered boys. Watch out - dooley will be next. However, with his lofty vision, he probably will want transportation on the first flight of the new super-supersonic plane!

vols_fan_n_tx writes:

Is sightsaw a word?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to theotherside:

WHO, pray tell, paid for this trip? And what value does it have for the sport or the University? Looks more like a paid vacation for some already-pampered boys. Watch out - dooley will be next. However, with his lofty vision, he probably will want transportation on the first flight of the new super-supersonic plane!

Wait, what? Do you really not know anything at all about big-time sports? Do you think these guys are the only UT students who will travel and/or study abroad this year, often paid for by others? Do you truly believe there is no educational benefit in that? Do you really believe that there was no value in the 10 extra practice days the team had BEFORE the 10-day trip to Italy? If so, all I can say is that people believe some strange stuff in your neck of the woods.

69grad writes:

in response to theotherside:

WHO, pray tell, paid for this trip? And what value does it have for the sport or the University? Looks more like a paid vacation for some already-pampered boys. Watch out - dooley will be next. However, with his lofty vision, he probably will want transportation on the first flight of the new super-supersonic plane!

Stuff it.

theotherside writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Wait, what? Do you really not know anything at all about big-time sports? Do you think these guys are the only UT students who will travel and/or study abroad this year, often paid for by others? Do you truly believe there is no educational benefit in that? Do you really believe that there was no value in the 10 extra practice days the team had BEFORE the 10-day trip to Italy? If so, all I can say is that people believe some strange stuff in your neck of the woods.

No. No. Yes. And Yes.

And you may be right. There's a lot of strange stuff going on,and SOMEBODY's gonna believe it. Apparently YOU do.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to theotherside:

No. No. Yes. And Yes.

And you may be right. There's a lot of strange stuff going on,and SOMEBODY's gonna believe it. Apparently YOU do.

Sorry, you've completely lost me. You are much too subtle for a simple-minded ex-country boy like me. Give it another shot; I'll try to pay better attention.

theotherside writes:

I'll try. First, you posed four questions and made one sage observation. I answered the four questions, in order, and then acknowledged (in order) your sage observation. Thanks for your kind commentary.

BTW, which country are you ex from?

Blue_Duck_Vol writes:

in response to theotherside:

WHO, pray tell, paid for this trip? And what value does it have for the sport or the University? Looks more like a paid vacation for some already-pampered boys. Watch out - dooley will be next. However, with his lofty vision, he probably will want transportation on the first flight of the new super-supersonic plane!

Pampered? You have obviously never been a D1 athlete.

theotherside writes:

in response to Blue_Duck_Vol:

Pampered? You have obviously never been a D1 athlete.

OOPS! You discovered my secret. I stopped at C1.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to theotherside:

WHO, pray tell, paid for this trip? And what value does it have for the sport or the University? Looks more like a paid vacation for some already-pampered boys. Watch out - dooley will be next. However, with his lofty vision, he probably will want transportation on the first flight of the new super-supersonic plane!

1. I don't know and don't care.But whoever paid for it then good for them.
2. well actually there was an actual teacher and class involved in the trip. Plus seeing the world is a great oppurtunity for anyone any school.
3. You didn't ask a 3 so I'll just answer one anyhow. Why do you care if UT paid for a trip? Happens all the time...

One could argue that a trip to Lexington is a waste of time and money? But we'll see. I think we'll surprise some people.
I don't think really though that anyone cares about your views on how this trip was funded or if it shouldhave happened. No offense it just doesn't matter.

theotherside writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

1. I don't know and don't care.But whoever paid for it then good for them.
2. well actually there was an actual teacher and class involved in the trip. Plus seeing the world is a great oppurtunity for anyone any school.
3. You didn't ask a 3 so I'll just answer one anyhow. Why do you care if UT paid for a trip? Happens all the time...

One could argue that a trip to Lexington is a waste of time and money? But we'll see. I think we'll surprise some people.
I don't think really though that anyone cares about your views on how this trip was funded or if it shouldhave happened. No offense it just doesn't matter.

Stokes et al, I bow to obviously superior wisdom. It's obvious that nobody wants to hear anything but praise and adulation for the mighty UT jock. Sorry I ruffled some feathers, and thoroughly chastened to learn that no one cares about my views.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to theotherside:

Stokes et al, I bow to obviously superior wisdom. It's obvious that nobody wants to hear anything but praise and adulation for the mighty UT jock. Sorry I ruffled some feathers, and thoroughly chastened to learn that no one cares about my views.

Nothing personal there flipside?? backside? anyhow...hehe
Thanks for the compliment on the "wisdom" thing...(never been "superior" before...it's nice)
If it makes you feel better about your tirade against UT then you could argue that no one cares about anything said on this blog... inlcluding anything said with "superior wisdom".

John_10065 writes:

in response to theotherside:

WHO, pray tell, paid for this trip? And what value does it have for the sport or the University? Looks more like a paid vacation for some already-pampered boys. Watch out - dooley will be next. However, with his lofty vision, he probably will want transportation on the first flight of the new super-supersonic plane!

Oh let's see, 5 posts since joining in Dec 2010, all in this thread.

Hey Mr Troll! Nice to see you have came out from under the bridge to grace us with you presence!

I might be an @$$, post under he influence and shoot my mouth off at times but I never had to back off to an account a created almost 2 years ago to post something negative.

GO crawl back under the bridge.

theotherside writes:

in response to John_10065:

Oh let's see, 5 posts since joining in Dec 2010, all in this thread.

Hey Mr Troll! Nice to see you have came out from under the bridge to grace us with you presence!

I might be an @$$, post under he influence and shoot my mouth off at times but I never had to back off to an account a created almost 2 years ago to post something negative.

GO crawl back under the bridge.

Wow! That must be a good post! Would you mind translating it into clear, cohesive English? If so. I will read it before I crawl back under the bridge.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to theotherside:

Wow! That must be a good post! Would you mind translating it into clear, cohesive English? If so. I will read it before I crawl back under the bridge.

"Oh! Let us see. You have submitted five posts since joining govolsxtra in Dec. 2010. All of the posts have been of the same nature as the post in which I'm responding.

Hello! Mr. Troll. It is nice to see you. It is nice to see you have come out from under your bridge home and have graced us with your presence.

I might be a dumb animal, posting under the influence of hallucinogens, and use excessive verbage, but I never had to go back and use a historical "handle" I created two years on this same site in order to post something considered my most as negative commentary.

I suggest that you should return back to your under the bridge sanctuary."

I'm no prof sooo here's my shot at "clear langig"

But you are probably under the bridge now and won't even read my interpretation.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

oops. "...considered BY most..."

johnlg00 writes:

in response to theotherside:

I'll try. First, you posed four questions and made one sage observation. I answered the four questions, in order, and then acknowledged (in order) your sage observation. Thanks for your kind commentary.

BTW, which country are you ex from?

I still don't get exactly what you object to about this trip. First, virtually every college program in America does this every so often. There are extensive NCAA rules governing those trips. Schools are free to arrange credit possibilities or requirements for the student-athletes involved. Expenses are incurred and documented according to long-standing requirements. The players spend quality time with each other, broaden their horizons, get extra practice time, and generally make memories that will last them the rest of their lives. Just what is it that you object to about this?

Notice I am not putting you down personally, I honestly wonder what you think. Although I am an ex-college athlete with the most modest possible grounds for the claim, I also have two degrees and ABD for a PhD, so I am 100% in favor of academics in general and, when consciously and consistently applied, to student-athletes in particular.

I am an adopted son of Upper East Tennessee and the Mountain Empire of Southwest Virginia. I have followed the Vols avidly since the mid-1950s.

WideRecieverU_K writes:

Great job Coach Martin!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features