As might be expected of the men’s basketball team on a trip to Italy, they ate pizza, played seven games against local squads (4 wins, 3 losses), enjoyed sightseeing, and met with the U.S. ambassador, who happens to be an alum: Ronald Spogli, ’70 (photo, center). But sophomore guard Drew Shiller (far left, front row) added a surprise element to the 10-day August expedition: freshman year he’d studied Italian with this trip in mind and was instrumental in friendly local encounters.
Shiller kept a journal that records such scenes as Roman drivers stopping their cars, “transfixed at the height of some of our players,” and the spectacle of the team’s 7-foot-tall Lopez twins having “to practically curl into the fetal position to not fall off the bed” in one cozy hotel. His most enthusiastic entries describe the genuine thrill of seeing the Colosseum, a goal “since 6th grade.” Shiller, who took a pre-trip Greek and Roman history course, writes: “No history book or postcard can give justice to how mesmerizing it is in person. . . . I left truly feeling I had accomplished something from life’s checklist of ‘must-do things.’”