MANCHESTER, N.H. – Members of the Saint Anselm College men's basketball team returned recently from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Italy and Vatican City. The Hawks flew out of Manchester on Wednesday, May 23 and returned to the Queen City last Sunday after the week-and-a-half trip to Europe.
During the trip, the Hawks not only saw the sights of a foreign land but they also had work to do. While there was certainly time for some leisure and sight-seeing, Saint Anselm took on four top-level basketball programs during their time in Europe.
"I believe in providing a 'total experience' for our student-athletes and this was an opportunity of a lifetime for our group," said Head Coach Keith Dickson, whose team most recently visited Spain in 2013. Prior to the 2013 excursion, the Hawks traveled to Australia in 2005.
"To be able to see so many different areas in Italy was such a great learning and cultural experience for our team. I'm sure it was a trip that they'll never forget," Dickson added.
The trip began with a walking tour of San Marco Island where the group was shown the various alleyways and bridges of the "Pearl of the Adriatic Sea". The next day, the Hawks arrived in Ferrara, a city in Northern Italy, where they took on Forli at 6 p.m. In that contest, rising senior Tim Guers led the Hawks to a 76-73 victory with 19 points, falling just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds.
The team enjoyed a traditional Italian dinner at a local farmhouse following their second game on Saturday, May 26, a hard-fought 62-60 loss to the Rimini Crabs. Guers once again led the team in points (18) with Chris Paul, a standout freshman on last season's Hawks team, pouring home 11 points. Newcomer Danny Evans handed out six assists in the narrow loss.
In Tuscany on Sunday, a guide led the team on a walking tour that included Duomo Square, the Ponte Vecchio, the Cathedral and the famous Michelangelo's Statue of David. The next three days were spent in various locales, such as Sorrento, the Isle of Capri and the Amalfi coast.
Saint Anselm faced-off against the European Basketball Academy in back-to-back tilts on Thursday, May 31 and Friday, Jun. 1. The team is comprised of fresh-out-of-college athletes who tour Europe during the summer, playing against professional teams in search of a contract. Many of the players on the roster are professional league veterans, playing for franchises across Europe.
The Hawks were able to pick up back-to-back wins against the Academy, including a 106-87 victory in the first game on Thursday. Cody Ball exploded for 26 points in the first game with Paul adding 23 points. Evans and Guers registered 15-point performances in the win with the latter tallying seven assists for the Hawks.
The duo was at it again in the next game against the Academy on Friday, winning by a 102-81 margin. Evan and Guers were responsible for 20 points apiece with Paul and Gustav Suhr-Jessen adding 16 points. Paul, Guers and Evans recorded 13, 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively, with Guers dishing out six assists in the win.
The Hawks rounded out their trip with tours of Rome and Vatican City, seeing notable sights such as the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.
"The trip was definitely worthwhile for our team heading into next season," said Dickson. "We also had an opportunity to practice together for a week and play four very competitive games. The trip gave us a chance to bond as a team and evaluate the student-athletes under different circumstances.
"I would like to thank everyone that donated to our Booster Program over the last four years to help provide us with necessary resources to make a trip like this possible," concluded Dickson. "It is one of the many things that make Saint Anselm basketball special."