Aug. 8, 2012
ROME - After an uneventful nine-hour flight from Chicago, the Purdue men's basketball team stepped off the plane into a beautiful day in Rome and hit the ground running on Wednesday morning.
Once the team cleared customs and all of its luggage was on the bus, players and staff set off on a bus tour of historic Rome courtesy of the team's local hosts. Among the attractions were Hercules' temple, ruins of two ancient Roman baths, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill and various palaces and churches.
The team wasn't in the bus long, however, and was able to take advantage of the sunshine on a walking tour that featured Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon - unchanged since its original construction - and Piazza Navona. There was ample free time at each stop for team members to explore on their own, as well as grab lunch. Many of the players chose to stop by one of the pizzerias near Trevi Fountain, while the majority of the staff chose among the various restaurants that line Piazza Navona.
Following the completion of the tour, the Boilermakers made their way to their headquarters in Rome, the NH Vittorio Veneto Hotel, where some opted for quick showers and others took advantage of a short nap before departing for practice.
Members of the team also got a short reunion with former Boilermaker standout and coach Cuonzo Martin, who is also in Rome at the helm of his Tennessee team. The Vols stayed at the Vittorio Veneto the previous two days, and left Wednesday night after their game in the city.
The Boilers were able to focus on basketball during a scenic ride and shook off their road weariness with a high-energy run at a gym called Fonte Roma Eur. After getting the juices flowing with their usual early-practice drills, the Boilermakers fine-tuned the numerous sets they plan to run during their four-game Italy tour. Sports performance coach Josh Bonhotal even got in on the action in the un-air conditioned gym, running tempos on the side for most of the second half of practice.
The Boilers' first day in Italy was capped with a team dinner across the avenue from its hotel at a restaurant called Il Pomodorino. Everyone was in high spirits as they recapped what they'd seen during the tours and looked ahead to the task at hand with Thursday's opening game. With free time on the schedule for after dinner, most chose to retreat to the hotel for some early shuteye, while others leisurely explored the vicinity of the hotel until curfew.
The Boilers will rise early on Thursday for a tour of the Vatican before returning to the hotel for meetings and pregame meal. The competition portion of the team's trip will kick off on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET) against All Star Italy.