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Buongiorno. E 'stata una buona giornata (It was a good day).
Following three hectic days of sightseeing and travel, the pace slowed Saturday for the University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team on day four of its tour through Italy. There were no official sightseeing excursions scheduled in this quaint little beach town of Pesaro and that allowed many to spend time floating in the Adriatic Sea.
Pesaro, a town of under 100,000 people, comes to life in the summer as a vacation destination for many Italians. Its pristine beaches and clear green waters, coupled with an abundance of recreational activities for young and old, make this an ideal holiday spot for many to come and relax. But this small town does come to life in the evenings and a variety of music for vacationers of all ages can be heard into the early hours of the morning.
Many of the players and coaches spent the day relaxing by the hotel pool. While the cool pool waters offered great relief for the players’ tired muscles, they also became a competition site.
Several Irish players--Bonzie Colson, Zach Auguste, Pat Connaughton, Steve Vasturia and Austin Torres--along with by head coach Mike Brey and assistant coach Martin Ingelsby, held some very heated relay races in the pool. Most of the players had a hard time keeping up with their head coach, an avid swimmer who swims daily. In fact, when Brey and Auguste squared off in a race, the only way the junior forward could stop his head coach was by cutting into his lane. Afterwards Brey quipped, “You finally blocked someone out.”
Following several relay races in the pool, many players and coaches headed to the beach where they floated with hundreds of other Italians in the Adriatic Sea. The salt waters were a comfortable temperature as it couldn’t have been a more perfect beach day.
On the ride to Pesaro on Friday evening, our tour guide commented that because this town is such a popular vacation destination for Italians, we likely would hear very little English spoken, and that turned out to be true.
The Irish headed to Palasport Hangar Pesaro, site of their contest against the Adriatic Sea Tritons Saturday evening. The team spent around 45 minutes shooting and getting used to the floor and baskets before ending practice with the traditional half-court shots. Pregame meal followed and then the bus departed around 7:45 p.m. for the game that tipped off around 9 p.m. Prior to our contest, the University of New Mexico women’s team, also touring Italy, played a Pesaro Women’s Select Team.
Nearly 700 fans were on hand for Notre Dame’s game against the Adriatic Sea Tritons, a professional team comprised of players between the ages of 23 and 39 from this area of the Italy. There was great excitement in the arena as the contest was advertised throughout the week on many of the local radio stations. Locals as well as those vacationing in Pesaro attended. And while the Italians cheered on their team with great enthusiasm, they were very gracious in their applause for the Irish, rooted loudly on a couple of Auguste alley-oop dunks and several Connaughton and Vasturia three-pointers. Despite the lopsided score, many stayed around for pictures following the game with their Italian favorites and Irish players.
It should be noted, too, that the jerseys worn by both the Pesaro men’s and women’s teams were provided by Under Armour.
On Sunday the players and travel party head to Maranello to visit the Ferrari Museum before arriving in Venice where it will spend Monday and Tuesday (Aug. 11-12).
Arrivederci a domain (Goodbye until tomorrow).
Notre Dame 90, Adriatic Sea Tritons 59
August 9, 2014 • Palasport Hangar Pesaro (Pesaro, Italy)
At its pregame shoot-around on Saturday afternoon, head coach Mike Brey continued to stress to his Irish squad the importance of carrying the defensive intensity it displayed in its previous game in Foligno the night before onto the court that evening. His Notre Dame squad certainly listened well.
In a game that likely will be the most competitive for the Irish this week, Notre Dame wasted little time in exerting its dominance on the court as it cruised to a 39-point victory, 90-59, over the Adriatic Sea Tritons.
Junior forward Zach Auguste registered the first double-double of the tour as he finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Steve Vasturia (18 points) and senior Pat Connaughton (16 points) combined for 34 points to lead the Irish for the second straight game. Connaughton was productive for the Irish everywhere on the floor as he also finished with seven rebounds and three assists.
For the second consecutive game, the lineup of Jackson, Grant, Auguste, Connaughton and Vasturia started the game.
The Irish, however, got solid contributions from everyone off the bench as sophomore V.J. Beachem led the way with eight points.
Alessandro Amici led the home team with 13 points.
Notre Dame enjoyed a 22-10 lead following the first quarter and took a 42-30 advantage into the halftime break. The advantage ballooned to 67-47 after the third quarter thanks to some key defensive stops and deflections that helped the transition game to some easy baskets. The Irish intensity continued in the fourth and final quarter as they outscored the Tritons 23-12 for the final margin of victory.
Notre Dame returns to the court on Monday evening when it plays the Opitergium Gladiators in Jesolo, Italy, a province of Venice.
Head Coach Mike Brey
“I was really pleased with our defensive effort this evening. I stressed that in shoot-around earlier in the day and I thought our guys came out and really competed in that area. We’ve been playing a lot of different lineups while in these first two games and I really like how well this group is coming together. There’s going to be a lot of competition this year for playing time and I think that it is going to really benefit us during the season.
“I like the way we are coming together as team and the way we are moving the ball. When we move the ball well, we are going to get a lot of open looks. That’s something that didn’t happen last year and I think that we have learned from that.”
Junior Zach Auguste
“I was happy with the way the whole team played tonight. We knew this was going to be a tough opponent for us and I think everyone was ready to go out and compete. We’re still searching for an identity for this team, but we’re doing it together and I think that is what is really important.”
Sophomore Demetrius Jackson
“I think the difference for us this year is going to be defense and we really weren’t always disciplined in that area last season. Coach Brey has stressed all summer how important that is going to be this year for us. These first two games have been a great experience for us as we finally have a chance to go out and play completion against someone other than ourselves. I like the unselfishness of our team and how we distribute the ball to each other.”
--by Bernie Cafarelli, assistant athletic director