Michigan arrived in Italy on Friday afternoon and will play four games in over the next week on foreign soil. The Wolverines will visit five cities in Italy, starting out in Rome before heading to Vicenza, Verona, Venice and Lake Como. Here’s everything you need to know about the Wolverines’ overseas tour.
When are the games?
Michigan will play games on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in Italy and will travel from Rome to Vicenza to Poggio Rusco.
- Sun, Aug. 17: vs. Perugia Select Team, Rome, Italy, 12 p.m. ET
- Tues, Aug. 19: vs. Vicenza All-Stars, Vicenza, Italy, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Weds, Aug. 20: vs. Petrarca Padova
Oderzo All-Stars, Vicenza, Italy, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Fri, Aug. 22: vs. Mantova Stings, Poggio Rusco, Italy, 1:00 p.m. ET
Will the games be streamed?
No. As of today, Michigan officials and tournament organizers have no plans to stream any of Michigan’s games while on tour.
How can I follow the tour?
We’ll pass along all of the information we can find, starting with this message board thread. MGoBlue.com and @umichbball are great resources and the Wolverines will be using the hashtag #ForzaBlue on Twitter. There’s also a Michigan in Italy page on the official site with photo galleries and a manager-led blog.
What else will Michigan do overseas?
Michigan players and coaches visited the Colosseum on Saturday and will see plenty of other sights during their time overseas. The Wolverines will also visit the US Army Base in Vicenza and should have plenty of time for sight-seeing. Here’s a map of where the Wolverines will visit in Italy.
How good is the competition?
The Wolverines will face one professional team, the Mantova Stings, and three ‘All-Star’ teams comprised of various players from Italy’s lower tiers of professional basketball.
Michigan’s final game overseas will be against its toughest opponent. The Mantova Stings are the only team the Wolverines will face that isn’t an All-Star or exhibition team made up of an collection of players, but an actual professional team. Mantova went 18-10 in the third division (A2 Silver) of Italian basketball last season and earned promotion to A2 Gold, the second division, this year.
Many of Mantova’s stars from last season are being replaced as the Stings look to revamp their roster to compete at a higher division. Former Villanova point guard Mike Nardi led the Stings in scoring last season, but has moved onto a new team. The Stings have recently signed several players with more experience including Aristide Lande, a power forward loaned from top Italian club Virtus Bologna and who played with Italy’s U20 Gold Medal team in 2013, Italian-American center Ryan Amoroso, who averaged 15.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last season, and Riccardo Moraschini, an Italian international who played for Virtus Roma (the team that just signed Jordan Morgan) last season, and Robert Fultz, a 32 year old guard with years of experience.
One of the biggest challenges for Michigan will be battling against Mantova’s leader in the front, Johndre Jefferson. Jefferson graduated from South Carolina in 2011 and while he only averaged 2 points and 2 rebounds per game in college, he’s blossomed in Italy. He’s 6-foot-10 and averaged 12.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, shooting 60% from the floor.
Jefferson’s size, experience and athleticism should give Michigan’s frontline all it can handle overseas. The good news for Michigan is that Mantova is still putting their squad together – signing many players in the last several weeks – and is in the midst of its preseason, so the squad that the Wolverines face might not be the final unit.
This team is constructed primarily of players that play in Division B and Division C, the fourth and fifth divisions of Italian basketball. This team is very experienced, but shouldn’t provide the same level of competition as Mantova.
Giovanni Gasparin (12 ppg) and Alessandro Panni (17 ppg) both played Division B last season. The rest of the Vicenza roster is made up of players that played in Division C last season. Vittorio Visentin is the tallest player on the roster at 6-foot-8, but he is also very young and was born in 1995. Andrea Carlesso is the oldest player on Vicenza’s roster. The 6-foot-7 forward was born in 1982 and has played professionally since 2000. The average age of the Vicenza roster is 25.4 years old. Notre Dame beat the Vicenza All-Stars 95-57 last week, but tournament organizers hinted that the roster to face Michigan could be slightly improved.
This is game was changed this week and tour organizers inform me that Petrarca Padova should provide a better challenge for the Wolverines. Padova is a team that still plays in a lower division of Italian basketball, Serie C, but is an actual team rather than an All-Star or showcase style team. More information to follow.
Perugia Select Team
This game will take place in Rome and will be against yet another assortment of lower division Italian players. Notre Dame beat this team 102-48, but Basket Academy management reports that their team is still a bit in flux as many local players are still on their offseason vacations. There’s already a hype video for Michigan’s Sunday game which you can watch here.