Daily Report: May 27, 2002

While the folks back home in the States had Monday off for Memorial Day, itwas a busy time for the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, which made thefour-hour trip from Venice (located on the northeastern coast of Italy) allthe way to Como, a small city on Lake Como in the far northern part of thecountry, only 10 miles from the Swiss border at the southern foot of the Alps.

Along the way, the Irish stopped in Milan, known both as Italy’s financialcenter and the heart of fashion in all of Europe. The team took full advantageof the many stores and attractions in Milan, with several players returningwith multiple bags in tow. Not even a torrential spring shower during themid-afternoon could sway these players from visiting stores with suchwell-known names as Gucci, Prada and Versace.

Later in the day, the team arrived in Como, a picturesque, multi-cultural townwith a fantastic view. Situated so close to the Swiss border, people herespeak up to four different languages (Italian, French, German and English),although not surprisingly, Italian is the preferred tongue. The diverse feel of the city is reminiscent of the Notre Dame team itself, which will sport players from eight different states next season, including two from Ohio, Illinois and Florida. One of those native Floridians, Allison Bustamante, continues to be on everyone’s mind even though she is not on the trip — she is home in Miami rehabilitating a stress fracture in her foot, and with much of the walking the team has done on the trip, the injury might not have been able to heal properly. Nevertheless, Allison has been a constant presence on the trip, if not in person, but certainly in our thoughts.

Sadly, Monday was the last day on the tour for our bus driver, Matteo,who had to leave us to take another group to Germany on Tuesday. Matteo becamea fixture with our party over the past week, sharing his passion for Europeantechno music with us and displaying an uncanny ability to manuever our largebus through even the narrowest of Italian streets. He spent much of the lasttwo days of our trip sporting a multi-colored jester’s hat with bells which wehad purchased for him. We can only hope our new driver, Giuseppe, will be justas entertaining over the final week of the tour.

The Irish will play their final game of the trip on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. localtime (1:30 p.m. in South Bend) against Pool Comense 1872 in Como. Pool shouldbe the toughest opponent Notre Dame will face on the tour, as it has won 11 ofthe last 12 Italian Serie A (First Division) titles, including the 2002 crown.

Following Tuesday night’s game, the Notre Dame group will leave Wednesdaymorning for a five-hour bus ride to Nice, France. Along the way, the Irishwill stop in the seaside resort city of Monte Carlo, meaning the team willhave visited the two smallest countries in the world on the trip (The Vaticanand Monaco). The Irish will spend their final two days relaxing in Nice beforereturning to the States on Saturday.