The LMU men’s basketball team kicked off their overseas pre-season with excitement on and off the court in Europe. After improving team chemistry, as well as the big wins they’ve had on the road, the Lions are looking to use this trip as a momentum booster for the start of the regular season.
The Lions hit Italy first where they toured Rome and played the first of their three exhibition games in Europe. The Lions played their first game with the new team against the Roma All-Stars where they dominated, winning 102-42.
Next up was Athens, Greece, where they played their final matches against the Greek All-Stars, winning both convincingly. The Lions finished their opener against the Greek All-Stars with a Victory in 15 pointsand won his second match 94-65. The Lions had a successful overseas trip, ending with a 3-0 registration.
Besides winning, what made the trip special for the team was the opportunity to build team chemistry. The Lions have new faces in the locker room from both the transfer gate and incoming first-year players, including graduate students Justin Ahrens who transferred from Ohio State University. Ahrens played four seasons with the Buckeyes, where he shot 39% from the three-point line and played in three NCAA tournaments. The addition of Ahrens by the Lions will be important for the future of the team due to his away scoring ability and tournament experience.
“It’s been awesome, honestly. I love it here,” Ahrens said. ‘is there that for a year we don’t care about him’, but that hasn’t been the case. It hasn’t been the case at all since I’ve been here. Everyone is loving, caring and it’s a family atmosphere. We all really have one goal in mind and that’s to win games.
Ahrens noted that it was great getting to know his new teammates on the pitch, but there were plenty of other highlights. Sightseeing, hanging out on the beach and spending quality time was “huge” for the team.
“Frankly, [the most surprising thing was] how beautiful Greece was. I knew it was an island and it was really nice but it was breathtaking how amazing this part of the trip was. I’m a beach guy – I love being at the beach, it’s even better. I would say Greece, in general, was the most eye-opening part of the trip,” Ahrens said.
There were a lot of eye-opening experiences during the trip, such as the fact that European teams have a “more fundamental” style of play than American teams. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the trip was the welcome the team received from locals.
“We have a great team, so immediately the regular civilian there is going to be like ‘they’re playing some kind of sport’. A lot of people there knew we were basketball players and came up to us and said hello” , Ahrens said. “There were even a few people saying ‘oh, LMU’, like ‘Loyola Marymount, I know where it is,’ things like that. There was more interaction than I expected before the trip from people living in Europe. It was very cool.”
The Lions will continue their play away from the Gersten Pavilion, taking part in the Classic Jamaica in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Lions will face Georgetown University on November 18 and the team thinks it will be an exciting and successful journey. Ahrens can’t wait to see the station, but the main attraction is of course the game.
“I really think we can win it all. We’re going to be excited for that one,” he said.