Men's Basketball Leaves Sunday For Italy
BATON ROUGE — The LSU men’s basketball team completed preparations for its five-game tour of Italy with a 95-minute practice Saturday morning at the Maravich Assembly Center.
So with practice complete, the nine-man Tiger squad now will board a flight in New Orleans at 1 p.m. Sunday that will eventually put them in Milan, Italy some time on Monday morning for the beginning of a 10-day oddessy which will include five games and Italian sight seeing.
The first game of the five-game tour is set for Thursday in Bormio, an Italian ski resort on Thursday, agaisnt the Italian National Team. Then on Friday, the Tigers will take on the Angolan Olympic team, also in Bormio.
LSU Coach John Brady feels that the five days of practice and the chance to come together for nearly three weeks will help his team when team practice begins for real in mid-October.
“Our team has really responded well to the practices,” said Brady Saturday. “I like their approach, their attitude and their work ethic. It’s been a good five or six workouts that we have had. They have been real receptive. Certainly it’s going to have some carryover or benefit for this team when we practice in October. Any time you can assemble your team and have some workouts without the pressure to play I think it makes a difference.”
The trip and practice becomes even more important in looking ahead to the 2000-2001 season as LSU must learn a new offense and play without Stromile Swift and Jabari Smith, who led LSU in an inside-dominated offense to the Sweet 16 a year ago.
“We are in a learning situation right now,” said Brady. “We’d like to win these games in Italy, but certainly it is not going to be something that will make or break our team. What will help our team the most is the ability to come together, put in a new offense without worrying about the pressure of playing which allows the players to be more relaxed and more receptive to the teaching and then go overseas and see how it plays out in a game situation.
“Then we can sit down as a coaching staff and add or delete anything that we think is beneficial or that didn’t work as well. When we start practice in October, we will be ahead of where we’ve been in my first three years here. So this trip is very beneficial. Plus, besides the basketball, it gives our players the chance to see a country they may never see again and experience some things they haven’t seen and make them more of a well-rounded person.”
The team returns to the United States on Aug. 17 and prepares for the start of school the following Monday, Aug. 21.