Daily Report: May 27, 2002
While the folks back home in the States had Monday off for Memorial Day, it
was a busy time for the Notre Dame women's basketball team, which made the
four-hour trip from Venice (located on the northeastern coast of Italy) all
the way to Como, a small city on Lake Como in the far northern part of the
country, only 10 miles from the Swiss border at the southern foot of the Alps.
Along the way, the Irish stopped in Milan, known both as Italy's financial
center and the heart of fashion in all of Europe. The team took full advantage
of the many stores and attractions in Milan, with several players returning
with multiple bags in tow. Not even a torrential spring shower during the
mid-afternoon could sway these players from visiting stores with such
well-known names as Gucci, Prada and Versace.
Later in the day, the team arrived in Como, a picturesque, multi-cultural town
with a fantastic view. Situated so close to the Swiss border, people here
speak up to four different languages (Italian, French, German and English),
although not surprisingly, Italian is the preferred tongue. The diverse feel
of the city is reminiscent of the Notre Dame team itself, which will sport
players from eight different states next season, including two from Ohio,
Illinois and Florida. One of those native Floridians, Allison Bustamante,
continues to be on everyone's mind even though she is not on the trip -- she
is home in Miami rehabilitating a stress fracture in her foot, and with much
of the walking the team has done on the trip, the injury might not have been
able to heal properly. Nevertheless, Allison has been a constant presence on
the trip, if not in person, but certainly in our thoughts.
Sadly, Monday was the last day on the tour for our bus driver, Matteo,
who had to leave us to take another group to Germany on Tuesday. Matteo became
a fixture with our party over the past week, sharing his passion for European
techno music with us and displaying an uncanny ability to manuever our large
bus through even the narrowest of Italian streets. He spent much of the last
two days of our trip sporting a multi-colored jester's hat with bells which we
had purchased for him. We can only hope our new driver, Giuseppe, will be just
as entertaining over the final week of the tour.
The Irish will play their final game of the trip on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. local
time (1:30 p.m. in South Bend) against Pool Comense 1872 in Como. Pool should
be the toughest opponent Notre Dame will face on the tour, as it has won 11 of
the last 12 Italian Serie A (First Division) titles, including the 2002 crown.
Following Tuesday night's game, the Notre Dame group will leave Wednesday
morning for a five-hour bus ride to Nice, France. Along the way, the Irish
will stop in the seaside resort city of Monte Carlo, meaning the team will
have visited the two smallest countries in the world on the trip (The Vatican
and Monaco). The Irish will spend their final two days relaxing in Nice before
returning to the States on Saturday.