ITALY (June 19, 2015) – While probably every other Caltech senior was enjoying the last days on campus before graduation, Andrew Hogue (Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande) of the men's basketball team joined nine other hand-picked SCIAC seniors to form an All-Star team that played four professional teams in Italy.
"The assistant coach at Whittier College, Mark Jensen, just called one day and said he was getting the top seniors in the conference together for the trip, and that they'd love to have me," Hogue explained. "It was pretty similar to our trip to Spain last year."
The SCIAC All-Stars played two games in Rome and two in Florence against Italian professional teams, including opponents from the Italian third division, Serie C. Jensen coached the squad and was assisted by Cal Lutheran University assistant Geoff Dains and Whittier assistant Ryan Conboy. The team, which included all six members of the 2014-15 All-SCIAC First Team, began their journey together with a pre-trip scrimmage against Pan Armenian regulars Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter, led by the 2004 SCIAC MVP, one week prior to leaving.
"I had hoped that this trip would allow our 10 seniors to experience the beauty of another culture and perhaps gain some international attention on the court; I feel it did that and more," Jensen said. "This will be etched on the minds and hearts of these guys forever. The competition on the court was good and the connections made with foreign clubs could potentially lead to a few of our players getting a chance to play overseas. One of the most fulfilling aspects of the trip for me was to see how 10 young men from rival schools who barely knew each other, and in some cases likely felt animosity toward each other through years of fierce competition, were able to come together with a few weeks of practice and a week in Italy and come out the other side as friends. There were real bonds made by all the players as they played with and for each other representing our conference with pride, and spent time traveling, joking and just having a good time with one another – that was special to see."
Once in Italy, the team spent its mornings sight-seeing at some of the most famous attractions in the world, such as the Foro Romano, Coliseum, Vatican and Sistine Chapel, among many others. Over seven days, Hogue and his new teammates visited Rome, Montecatini, Florence and Milan.
Photo Album (flikr) – Geoff Dains
The all-stars hit the court each of the first three nights, overcoming sluggish starts in the first two to top ASD Petriana Roma, 125-78, and ASD Pallacanestro SORA, 97-71. A slew of turnover calls in their third game resulted in a buzzer-beater 67-65 loss to Cestistica Pescia, although Hogue received rave reviews for his physical presence on the boards and in the post against Pescia's 6'9" star center, even earning comparisons to NFL star Julius Peppers for his mix of brute force and athleticism. After a well-deserved day off, the all-stars took on CUS Pisa, an all-star team of its own consisting of players from four Serie C sides, on the penultimate day of their trip. Hogue and his frontcourt mates kept the All-Stars in it through a physical, back-and-forth first half, and the guards finally found their groove in the second to make for a memorable final game.
"This was a really great experience and opportunity," Hogue beamed. "It was a great chance to get some experience with and against some professional talent and the trip itself was just incredible. Hopefully some scouts were there who took notice, of course we all wanted to get some exposure as another step on the road to possibly playing professionally."
As amazing as the experience was, of course Hogue certainly had his mind on graduation as well.
"I knew it would be a quick turnaround heading into graduation, but it was a great way to spend the week or so leading up to it," Hogue grinned. "I had an eight-page research paper to finish by the time we got back – I typed out about six on my phone while the other guys were sleeping on the plane."