The Boilers first opponent on the tour was All-Star Italy and they were less than impressive. Painter's squad won 80-38 and forced almost 20 turnovers in the win while shooting almost 50 percent from the floor. Raphael Davis lead the way in scoring with 15 points, which is a good sign of things to come from him. Davis was also the most efficient scorer during the game. He also added a couple of steals, which hopefully is a sign that the defensive mindset will live on. Donnie Hale looked impressive in this one, as he should, after waiting two years with prep school and a redshirt, he looked ready to unleash his wrath. Hale had a double-double, scoring 11 points with 11 rebounds, five being offensive rebounds. The majority of his points came from put-backs at the rim, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. A surprising stat from Sandi Marcius - 12 rebounds.
After All-Star Italy and sight seeing in Rome, Painter and the boys moved on to Florence, where they would face Atletas Kaunas. After taking a trip to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa, they got right down to business. Donnie Hale continued to look as impressive as ever for the Boilers against a much tougher team. Hale lead the team with 19 points. Sandi Marcius continued to impress on the boards, as well, with 14 rebounds, which he did in front of his family, who traveled from Croatia to watch him play. Unfortunately for the Boilers, this one was a thriller. Down nine points at the half, Painter's squad came roaring back to life on a 16-3 run and it was all back and forth from there. The two teams were tied at 79 with 13 seconds remaining in the game when the Boilers had a chance to go on top but D.J. Byrd's layup rimmed out. Atletas Kaunas made a three at the buzzer for the win. Terone and Ronnie Johnson both scored ten points a piece. The Boilers fell 82-79 to even their record at 1-1. As far as free throw shooting, they were 19 of 26 from the line or 73.1%. That is something I hope we all pray continues to improve after last season's free throw shooting was embarrassing at times.
Overall, I think we have seen strong play from Hale and some much needed boards from Marcius, which I hope will continue when he gets back in the states. Marcius needs to really develop and show us something this season. I don't think we have seen Byrd be the role player he can be just yet, hopefully he will break out in the game coming up. The rest of the team has been putting up consistent numbers, so far, which is a good sign. I think it is just going to take a little bit of time for the team to develop that chemistry that can be really important during the course of a season. Thus far, the team has seen and experienced both, an easy win and a down-to-the-wire heartbreaker which I am all about because it gives the team experience. The decision to go to Italy is paying off as we are getting that much more practice in before the season, which can prove to be valuable.
Matt Painter and the boys will travel to Venice today where they will have one day of rest before taking on Vicenza All-Star on Tuesday at 1:30pm ET in what could be another tough game.