College doesn’t usually come with end-of-the-year field trips, but Penn men’s basketball made an exception.
On May 14 — the same day seniors graduated on Franklin Field — the rest of the team arrived in Italy.
The Quakers spent a week in total touring Europe, visiting Rome, Milan, and Lake Como in Italy and Lugano, Switzerland. In that time, the team also played three exhibition games against Italian professional and amateur teams, winning two.
This is not the first time the Quakers have gone on an Italian tour: the Quakers visited Venice, Florence, and Rome in 2013. Penn won all three games they played that year, dispatching two teams of American military personnel and a second-division pro team. The Penn women visited Italy a year later.
This time around, the games should be more competitive, as the Quakers will play two professional third-division teams in U.S. Tiber Basket Roma and Bernareggio 99 before rounding out the trip against Novara Borgomanero.
In the opener, the Quakers fell to US Tiber Basket Roma 82-80 after a 21-2 Tiber run erased a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Tiber’s Andrea Valentini poured in 31 points, while Antonio Woods lead the way for Penn with 19. The game also featured the first appearance of freshman Jelani Williams in a Penn uniform, after the guard sat out the season due to injury.
The remaining two games went much more smoothly for the Quakers, as they dispatched Bernareggio 99, 93-56, and cruised past Novara Borgomanero, 101-55. As he did in game one, coach Steve Donahue emptied the bench in each game, with all 14 healthy players seeing minutes. Game two featured 24 points and a monstrous fast break dunk from sophomore Devon Goodman and another 13 from forward AJ Brodeur in the dominant win.
The finale opened with a Penn deficit. About four minutes in, Novara Borgomanero lead 11-4, before an 18-3 Penn run set the tone for the rest of the game. Freshman Jelani Williams lead the Quakers with 18 points in the win, giving him 35 total in his first three games in Red and Blue.
The Quakers took a smaller team of 16 on the trip with the incoming recruits ineligible to replace the graduating senior class. Of the 16, freshman Mark Jackson and star sophomore Ryan Betley sat out with injuries.
According to Donahue, the trip to Italy gave the team a chance to travel and grow together on and off the court.
“While the games we will play in Italy will be competitive and helpful to our team's on-court development, the cultural experiences and the team bonding are the real reasons why we are so excited for a trip like this,” he said in a press release announcing the trip.
The team’s tour included visits to some of Italy’s great historic landmarks and museums, including the Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.