Blog and Photo Gallery: Harvard Men's Basketball in Italy

Blog and Photo Gallery: Harvard Men's Basketball in Italy

Harvard on its final night in Italy (Harvard Athletic Communications).

Members of the Harvard men's basketball team will be contributing to a blog and photo gallery during the team's training trip to Italy.

For continued posts, check

Blog Post Nine: Tuesday, Aug. 28
by Steve Moundou-Missi

Hi all,

Today marks the last day in our tour in Italy. It's hard to believe we've been here for nine days already. Scheduled for our day were breakfast, a visit of Lake Como, and a group dinner at night. The breakfast was of quality. Everyone was satisfied with the food and the service. After breakfast, we drove an hour and half to go see one of the most beautiful places in Milan: the lake Como. We then took a boat to ride around the lake. With the help of our guide tour, we learned a lot about the lake. There are a couple of interesting facts about this lake. First, it's the deepest lake in Europe, its deepest part being 425 meters.

 An important figure of the lake and its surroundings is Alessandro Volta who created the first battery. The lake is surrounded by villages and luxurious villas. Those villas are often rented by celebrities such Jenifer Aniston, George Clooney, Sir Richard Branson, Johnny Versace. Moreover, a few movies were filmed on some of the villas around the lake. Ocean 13, Casino Royale, Star Wars 2 are a few examples of those movies. We also learned that Mussolini, the Italian dictator, was executed on Lake Como after trying to escape to Switzerland. It was unbelievable to realize the amount of history made around that lake.

After an hour of riding the boat, we stopped at one of the villages around the lake. It was called Belagio. It is a place known for its silk products. Therefore, it was an opportunity to do some shopping. The ride back to the boat ramp was just as smooth. We were thankful to our guide for bringing so much enthusiasm in our tour of the lake. It was then time to go back to the hotel. Some of us wandered around town, others decided to hit the spa and the pool at the hotel. We concluded this trip with a group dinner a nice restaurant near the hotel.

The Harvard basketball team would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible. This tour has been a complete success. We've spent nine amazing days here. Once again, thank you.


Steve Moundou-Missi

Blog Post Eight: Monday, Aug. 27
by Tom Hamel

Buona Sera from Milan!

This morning we said goodbye to Venice and hopped on our bus for the five-hour drive to Milan. Most of us passed the time by sleeping, and we stopped along the way for lunch at an Autogrill. These restaurant/rest stops along Italy's highways put the McDonald's stops on the Mass Pike to shame! We had perfect weather for the trip, and northern Italy's majestic, mountainous landscape was on full display for much of it. Eventually we arrived at our hotel in downtown Milan. We had a few minutes to put our bags down and relax before eating our pre-game meal, and we departed for our game at 5:30 p.m.

We haven't had a chance to walk around Milan yet, but its mixture of the old and the new fascinated us as we drove through the city. We shared cobblestone streets with futuristic-looking trolleys, and we rode past magnificent arches on one corner and gleaming corporate buildings on the next. After we left the city and drove for about an hour, our route afforded us spectacular views of Lake Maggiore from above as we drew closer to Omegna, our destination. We arrived at Omegna at 7:15 p.m. and warmed up for Paffoni Fulgor, arguably our toughest opponent yet.

We started the game a bit sluggish and Fulgor took advantage, scoring with crisp passing and sharp backdoor cuts. But we buckled down and started to get defensive stops, and eventually we pulled ahead. Our increased defensive effort helped us get better shots on offense, and we were able to finish plays around the basket. This allowed us to build a double-digit lead at halftime. We clamped down even tighter in the second half and held Fulgor to just nine points in the third quarter. We sustained this effort for most of the second half, and we won our final game in Italy by 19 points. We're very happy with the results of our trip; it's been terrific to see different guys beginning to carve out important roles for us as we head into the school year. We're hopeful that we can build on what we've done on this trip as we gear up for this upcoming season.

Sadly, our trip is coming to a close. Our last day is tomorrow, and we plan to visit Lake Como for a relaxing day of sightseeing and shopping. Stay tuned!

Tom Hamel '14

Blog Post Seven: Sunday, Aug. 26
by Christian Webster

Hey everybody!

We are at the third stop on our tour today... Venice! We got into Venice last night after the ceremonious game against Bassano Basket. We arrived at our hotel in style. We took boats from the mainland to the island of Venice to the dock of our hotel (yes, the hotel had its own dock!). On the ride in we took in an amazing view of Venice as the lights and canals of the city lit up the night.

Today started with our usual team breakfast. But, the rest of the day was different from past days because we didn't have a game or a practice. We'd earned a day off! This day off from all activities gave us time to explore Venice and get some rest from the back to back games we had. It was awesome to see Saint Mark's Square and to walk across the bridges and see so many people taking gondola rides. 

Venice has easily become my favorite city on the trip so far. The canals that run all through the city make it one of the most unique and memorable cities that I have ever seen. 

To end my last blog post for the trip. I just want to say thank you again to the Harvard Basketball staff and everyone at Harvard for making this trip come to life. This has truly been an amazing eye opening experience for me and I am very thankful and blessed to have experienced it with my teammates that I consider family.  As we go into our game tomorrow night we will try to get one more W to come back to the states undefeated! 

Thanks again

Christian Webster

Blog Post Six: Saturday, Aug. 25
by Steve Moundou-Missi

Hi all,

It's day six of our tour here in Italy. After a good night of sleep, we had breakfast this morning around 10. We finished packing after breakfast since the bus was leaving at 12 for Bassano del Grappa, the place of the game. Two hours and half went by in the bus and it was time to have our pre-game meal. That first part of the trip was pretty quiet as we all tried to get a comfortable position in the bus to sleep. For our pre-game meal, the coaching staff advised us to have pasta. We stopped for an hour in a restaurant at a place called "AUTOGRILL". The second part of the trip was similar to the first one. We were either sleeping or listening to music.

Once arrived at the gym, we received a warm welcome from the fans. We went through our usual routine in warm-up. Then, the game started. We had a good start as we gained a 10-point lead in the first quarter. We stayed disciplined throughout the second quarter, which eventually allowed us to increase our lead to 12 at halftime. Our effort was there. In the third quarter, our opponents came out with more punch and pride at the image one of their players, #15, who was able to take our defense apart with pump fakes and dribble penetrations. However, we changed things by getting tougher on defense making easy baskets. The final score turned out to be 83-52. We were then improving to a 3-0 record in Italy.

The post-game was quite ceremonial. They handed us a trophy for winning the game. Also, Wesley S. was elected most valuable player. But that wasn't it. The fans asked us for pictures and autographs. Ugo O. was particularly solicited. He was obviously the star of the evening. That became evident when he made his first basket of the game; and the crowd went crazy and started chanting his name.

Once again, this was a wonderful experience for us. The atmosphere in which we played in was electric. But the best of all was the crowd, who showed support and sportsmanship. We couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity that has been given to us. Our next stop is Venice so stay tuned for some adventures of the Harvard basketball team.

Buena sera,

By Steve Moundou-Missi

Blog Post Five: Friday, Aug. 24
by Tom Hamel

Hi everyone!

Today we enjoyed another rewarding day of sightseeing and basketball in Italy. This morning, some of us made a short road trip from our hotel in Florence to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. After arriving at the tower, we took pictures and learned some of its history. The tower was originally built on sinking soil that eventually settled, allowing the building to remain standing even though it's tilted roughly four degrees off center. Eventually we climbed the stairs to the top of the tower. It was a solid workout, but the outstanding views of the city from the top of the tower were well worth the hike.

Those of us who decided not to go to Pisa explored Florence, a small but vibrant city on the Arno River famous for being the birthplace of the Renaissance. We meandered through several plazas, watching the bustling vendors selling leather and other goods. We also went to see Brunelleschi's famous dome, known as Il Duomo, atop Santa Maria della Fiore cathedral in the heart of the city. Florence is home to so much fascinating history in terms of art, architecture, and culture, and while we were disappointed we weren't able to explore all these different areas, we're glad we got to take advantage of the time we did have to see this amazing city.

In the afternoon, everyone reconvened at the hotel for some rest and our pre-game meal, and at 6 p.m. we departed for our game against Pallacanestro Firenze. Both teams came out fired up to play. Firenze had crafty guards, good shooters and tough post players, and the game was close for much of the early periods. But eventually we were able to wear them down with great defense and ball movement on offense. Everyone pitched in, and we were able to pull away from and eventually defeat Firenze. We certainly have several areas to improve, but we were able to build on the positives from and learn from some of the mistakes of our last game against Rieti. Overall, it was a great day for our team. 

Tomorrow, we depart Florence and head to our next game against Bassano. Thank you for following us on this incredible trip!

Blog Post Four: Thursday, Aug. 23
by Christian Webster 

Hey everybody!

After a very physical and tough win last night. We had a long day ahead of us today. We woke up for breakfast in the hotel in Rome early this morning before getting our stuff together to head to the second stop on our tour... Florence! 

After a long 6 hour bus ride in stand still traffic we arrived in Florence at around 5 p.m. Upon arriving in Florence the first place we went before checking into the hotel was to Accademia to view one of the most famous sculptures in HISTORY- Michaelangelo's David. Seeing the sculpture in pictures does not match seeing it in person. The sculpture is enormous. If you think Ugo is tall... You haven't seen anything yet. It seemed like you could stack up three 7 footers on top of each other and it still wouldnt match the height of David. For Michaelangelo to have finished the marble sculpture in just 2 years with all of the detail that it holds is insane. 

After viewing David we hustled our way through the Florence streets to head to the hotel to get ready for practice. Right now we are getting ready for practice in the hotel as we head to a gym in Florence to get a little bit better and prepare for our second game tomorrow night.


Blog Post Three: Wednesday, Aug. 22
by Steve Moundou-Missi

Hi everybody,

After a loaded breakfast this morning, we were given some time to spare until 3 p.m. For some of us, it was an opportunity to explore Rome even more. For others, it was an occasion to relax and get some rest after the two busy days we just had. We visited the colosseum on Monday and the Vatican on Tuesday. We are extremely fortunate to discover those two historical places of Rome. Today was a different day though. It was game day. After having fun for two days, it was time to get serious and to do one of the things we really came here for which is to compete against Italian teams. After all, coach Amaker had insisted on the fact that we had to make this trip not only "enjoyable" but also "productive".

The pre-game meal was made of pasta and bread, in addition to different fruits for dessert. The bus departed for the game at 6 p.m. We then started our 75-minute-drive to the place of the game. Once arrived at the arena, we were all excited to step onto the court. We had a good warm-up and everyone was encouraging one another. But as the game started, we came up timid. The communication was not there and our defense was slacking. We were emotionally drunk and our actions reflected it as we accumulated missed layups and turnovers. Nevertheless, we managed a four-point lead at half-time.

The second half was different. We responded well to adversity. We did the little things that a winning team does in that kind of situations: we picked each other up; we were vocal in the huddles; we were efficient around the rim. The outcome was just a consequence of all our efforts. We ended up with a victory for our first game. The final score was 75-64. It was a great first test. It was not our best game and there is room for improvement. We have some work to do, but until then there are a long drive back to the hotel and a short night of sleep ahead of us. We are leaving for Florence early in the morning tomorrow. We hope for a better day. Keep us in your prayers.

Buena sera,

Steve Moundou-Missi

Blog Post Two: Tuesday, Aug. 21
by Tom Hamel

Buon Giorno from Rome!

Today marked one of the highlights of our trip so far: a visit to Vatican City, located northwest of downtown Rome. After some much-needed sleep, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at our hotel, and at 9:30 a.m. we boarded our bus to head to Vatican City. We passed the lush Borghese Gardens and several walls still standing from Rome's earliest years, and shortly after we arrived at the Vatican Museum to begin our tour.

The tour started in the Vatican Gardens. Our guide, Cynthia, described the Vatican City's history as we enjoyed commanding views of surrounding Rome and St. Peter's Basilica. Magnificent sculptures and peaceful grottos dotted the garden's landscape, and along the way we ran through a few sprinklers to keep cool in the hot sun. Even Coach Amaker made the run with us! 

After we'd finished in the gardens, we took a short break to rest and down some water before heading inside to the museums. We walked through several galleries, marveling at the detailed tapestries and intricate Greco-Roman sculptures. One particular room that impressed us included two-dimensional paintings on the ceiling designed to appear as three-dimensional sculptures. Eventually we arrived at the jewel of the museums: the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo's ceiling paintings astounded all of us as we observed his depictions of The Creation of Adam and other stories from the Bible. 

Our last stop on the tour took us to St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world. It is named after Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and the first bishop of Rome. Once inside, we wandered around, taking in the stunning dome, altar, tapestries and sculptures throughout the church. The sheer size of the church amazed all of us and we marveled at the culmination of decades of work from popes, painters, sculptors and architects.

We are back at the hotel now, getting ready to practice at 5 p.m. and enjoy a group dinner out in Rome when we finish.  Ciao!

Blog Post One: Monday, Aug. 20
by Christian Webster 

Hey Crimson fans!

After a long eight-hour plane ride from Boston at around 5 p.m. EST. Wheels were finally landed down in Italy and we were at the first stop on our tour...ROME. It was about 6:30 a.m. when we landed. We made it through through the airports and customs very smoothly (thanks to the behind the scenes work of KG). But, there was one highlight on the plane that helped the eight hours go by alot faster. As everyone was sleeping, reading, watching movies, or listening to music. Jonah and Wes were bombarded by a group of about 20 Israeli teenagers who seemed to be in love with them because of Jonah's "Hey Arnold" show DVD. They asked Jonah and Wes what seemed to be at least 200 questions about our team and american basketball players. I had never seen anything like it before.  

When we made it to the hotel in downtown Rome it was about 9 a.m. and we were able to eat breakfast and freshen up a little bit before heading on a tour of the Colosseum and The Forum. I must say that the Colosseum was the one place that I was most excited to see and experience going into the trip. Especially after seeing it in so many great movies and it did not disappoint. The feeling you get when you step foot into the place is indescribable. Knowing that this was a place where thousands of people watched as gladiators fought each other and just about every type of animal imaginable was mind blowing! But,there was a moment during our tour today that I have to mention.  Somehow within five minutes of the tour starting Coach Hufnagel got separated from the group (haha). We later caught back up with Coach Hufnagel outside of the Colosseum after our tour of the Forum.

When we arrived back at the hotel after our tour everyone was so drained from the night of travel and the 95 degree heat that we all fell right asleep and got some much needed rest and relaxation. 

To finish off the blog for our first day, I just want to give a huge thank you to everyone that made this trip possible for us. On behalf of the team the first day was amazing and the experience has been priceless so far. We could not be more excited and thankful to have the opportunity to be in Italy and to play a few games! I know alot of our former teammates would kill to be on this trip with us. We hope to represent Harvard well.  


(I learned that today)