Tuesday was a day of transition in our Italian tour as tomorrow begins our stretch of three games against pro competition in as many days. So Assistant AD for Strength & Conditioning Ben Kenyon ran the team through an intense band workout in a nearby Florence park to get the players' bodies back on track to handle the anticipated physicality of the next three games.
We learned the other day that Italians name their heat waves similar to how hurricanes and tropical storms are named in the States. Italy's latest stretch of consistent triple-digit weather has been dubbed 'Lucipher,' so we have that going for us.
While 'Lucipher' has been a burden while touring the cities and sights, the team found some shade in the park to work out. However, they couldn't escape some curious locals watching from benches, nor a precocious border collie who wanted to play some fetch with the players. John Kopriva obliged, reverted back to his days as a high school quarterback, and nearly tossed the stick out of the park, completely overthrowing his receiver. He's no Aaron Rodgers, but as a pre-med major on scholarship, he'll probably be OK.
The four-circuit workout concluded with a makeshift pull-up competition on a nearby swing set. The team split in half and elected one representative to face-off against another from the opposite team. Lasan Kromah and Bryan Bynes went down to the wire, but Lasan edged Bryan at the end, 38-36, leaving Team Bynes to do a two-minute bridge exercise.
The group enjoyed a few hours to explore Florence, with David Pellom, Isaiah Armwood and Joe McDonald electing to rent Segways to cruise around downtown.
No injuries were reported as we hopped aboard our bus at 2 pm to travel inland a bit, experiencing our first trip through some of the mountains we've only viewed from a distance to this point. An hour later we arrived in Siena, a three-tiered city most famous for its Piazza del Campo and annual Palio horse race. We learned that the city is split into 17 regions, each named after an animal/creature like elephants, dragons, geese, even the silkworm. There were also regions named the Rams and Owls, but you all know how we feel about them.
We capped our trip to Siena with a quick visit to the Palaestra to catch a bit of Montepaschi Siena, also known as Mens Sana - the six-time defending basketball champions of Italy. The team soaked in the green and white colors of the 8,000-seat arena and the early full court run-throughs by Mens Sana, which by our account featured about five American players. A good way to transition into basketball mode for the upcoming three games, and to see a way of life that could become a post-college reality for some of our players.
Per usual, today's photos and today's video coverage via the @GW_MBB TwitVid channel. We've also been tweeting out some cool 360 Panorama photos from around Italy, so be sure to follow @GW_MBB to check those out.
The city of Modena and an anticipated packed arena against Poggio Rusco awaits tomorrow.