Utah State men’s basketball embarks on Italian tour

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State men’s basketball opened its 10-day tour of Italy on Wednesday, traveling to its first destination of Rome. The tour will then take the team to stops in Vatican City, San Marino, Pesaro, Venice, Trieste and Lake Como.

The Aggies will make stops at notable sites, including the Colosseum in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, and the famous gondolas in Venice.

USU recently completed 10 days of practice leading up to the tour, allowing the team to report earlier than normal. The practices included all four of the Aggies’ newcomers in junior college transfers Dwayne Brown and DeAngelo Isby, and freshmen signees Brock Miller and Crew Ainge.

“This will be our first foreign tour and will give us a good head start with our new players,” head men’s basketball coach Tim Duryea said. “We are able to show them the culture of your practices and the expectation of your practices. On the other hand, you can be patient in teaching those things to the new kids because you are not under the gun with opening day right around the corner.”

Utah State will play four teams during its Italian tour, including Lithuania side BC Silute and Italian side Basket Lecco. Silute finished seventh in the Lithuanian standings last season with a record of 19-19 and was led by 6-foot-9 center Aurelijus Pukelis with 20.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. Pukelis also led the team from the floor, shooting 67.3 percent (228-of-339).

Lecco finished sixth in its group last year with an overall mark of 19-11. The team is paced by its post players in 6-8 forward Jacopo Balanzoni and 6-11 forward Gaetano Spera with 16.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, respectively.

Utah State will face BC Silute on Saturday night at 7 in Rome (11 am MT) and Lecco in Lake Como on Friday, Aug. 25, at 7 pm (11 am MT). The Aggies have two other games scheduled during the tour, facing Adriatic Sea Triton on Monday, Aug. 21, in San Marino and ASD Pallacanestro Interclub Muggia on Wednesday, Aug. 23, in Trieste.

“We would like to see what our players can do,” Duryea said. “We’ll try not to give them too many restraints. We’ll play different combinations and groups with all 13 players that are healthy and eligible. We’re hoping to play them similar minutes and see them play at maximum effort.

“We’ll want to see the principles that we’ve practiced over the last 10 days carry over,” he continued. “We’ll film all four of our games and have a ‘good’s and bad’s’ film edit. They’ll see all of the good things that they’ve done on offense and defense, and all of the bad things that we need to get better. When practice gets started in late September, it will be an invaluable teaching tool to them.”

The tour is organized by Basketball Travelers Inc., an organization that also coordinates basketball tournaments such as the Paradise Jam and the Great Alaska Shootout. BTI, along with private donations, will supplement travel costs for the team and in turn Utah State will be playing in the Great Alaska Shootout during the 2019-20 season.

Utah State men’s basketball news and information is available on Facebook (facebook.com/usumen’sbasketball) and on Twitter (@usubasketball). Fans can also get USU men’s basketball highlights on YouTube (youtube.com/utahstateathletics). Aggie fans can follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter (@usuathletics), on Facebook (facebook.com/usuathletics) or on Instagram (@usuathletics).

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