Anthony DAlessandro

No European vacation: Celtics desire progress overseas

WALTHAM, Mass. — Boston Celtics1 coach Brad Stevens knows full well that how a preseason trip overseas is remembered almost certainly depends on how that forthcoming season ends. Compete for a national title — like Stevens’ Butler Bulldogs2 did in 2009 after a preseason trip to Italy — and that trek will be romanticized and deemed a key to chemistry and cohesion; get bounced in the first round of the Horizon League tournament — like Stevens’ Bulldogs did in 2005 after a preseason trek to the Bahamas — and the trip becomes a mere footnote to a disappointing campaign. So before his team made a redeye flight across the Atlantic on Friday night in advance of a pair of exhibitions in Milan and Madrid, Stevens stressed that his goal for this overseas excursion was simple: Get better. Sure, Stevens hopes a unique trip to a foreign land forces his players to bond together during a six-day trek. But he’s under no illusion that this trip alone will be enough to somehow catapult his team forward during the 2015-16 season.

“It s a little different for college kids — none of those guys were going to pay for the international roaming, so our cell phones didn t work,” said Stevens. “So, literally, we get on the bus, and it s like they re air texting and not knowing what to do. But by the end of the trip, you re talking, you re yukking it up, you re playing board games. You re just doing things to pass the time because you ve been on a bus the whole time.

And we won t be on a bus quite that much and these guys probably will be able to afford the international data.”

Stevens said the Celtics do have one lengthy bus ride overseas and he had planned a team-bonding activity, hoping to bring his players a little bit closer together. And, for a coach who’s big on building a family-like structure, this trip certainly could have its benefits by forcing his team players outside their comfort zone. But none of Boston’s decision-makers are expecting this trip to radically alter the team or its potential. Not even those that were here when Boston’s Big Three of Paul Pierce3, Kevin Garnett4 and Ray Allen came together for the first time when the team trekked to Rome before the 2007-08 title season.

“I think our team could get better wherever we are having training camp. I’m not sure that there s some magic in Europe,” admitted Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “Or some magic traveling outside of Boston’s Waltham, Mass.-based training center.

“I think it has a lot more to do with just the attitude of the players and the coaches and the health of the players. But I think training camp will be fun. We re fulfilling our obligation to go to Europe.

I liked going to Europe as a player when I was a player. It was something different. I m not sure I got anything more out of it, but it was fun. So hopefully the players will have a good experience. I think the thing that they get out of it, more than anything, is we get a few extra days of training camp.”

The Celtics got a three-day head start on much of the league because of its participation in the 2015 Global Games. During this trek, the Celtics visit 26-time Italian League Champion Olimpia Milano on Tuesday, then joust with 32-time Spanish League champ Real Madrid on Thursday in Spain. Back in Ainge’s playing days, a Celtics-Madrid battle was a big deal5.

A 1988 matchup is fondly remembered for pitting Boston’s old Big Three — Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish — against a Madrid squad led by Drazen Petrovic. The modern Madrid roster, where Rudy Fernandez may be the most recognizable name for NBA fans, won’t generate quite the same hype. Ever diligent, Stevens has said he’s watched film of the two teams Boston will play overseas, but the Celtics are clearly focused on their own development. After six days of training camp, Boston players do admit they are eager to compete against someone other than themselves. Asked what he’s looking forward to about the Europe trip, Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas6 said: “Playing against somebody else, playing against another opponent, a somewhat real game, and just trying to win those games — and at the same time coming together as a team.

Going on a trip like this, we’re all we’ve got out there. We don’t know really too much out there, and we’re going out there as one. I think that’s going to help us in the long run.”

Echoed veteran big man David Lee7: “We have two games over there that we want to win, that we want to play well in. But, more than anything, this is our preseason. Training camp is continuing on and off the court to build towards opening night. And that means not only getting better in practice but also enjoying each other’s company off the court. And getting to travel somewhere where we re going to rely on hanging out with one another because we won t have our families and our friends over there. It s hanging out with your teammates and your coaching staff … and going from there. And I think that s really important because, early in the season, we have a lot of new faces.

This couldn t come at a better time.”

The Celtics arrived in Europe around noon local time on Saturday. A handful of Boston players and coaches engaged in a community event in Milan while the team settled in. The full squad will be back on the practice floor Sunday to continue their training camp. Stevens suggested that, ultimately, this is a business trip. The Celtics will conduct full-throttle practices on the morning of their gamedays — and not just breezy walkthroughs — in order to maximize their limited court time while overseas. When Boston does hit the court for its first two exhibitions of the season, much of the focus will be on the lineups that Stevens utilizes while attempting to determine the groupings he’ll use when the regular season tips in little more than three weeks.

“I think it s very likely that we ll start different lineups in each game overseas,” said Stevens. “We can certainly discuss lineups and talk about it, but I don t think anything will be set in stone. I think you want to have it somewhat set by the time we start our last week of the preseason.”

To be certain, this is no vacation; it’s a business trip. Stevens hopes the experience is beneficial for his team, but he’ll settle for stowing some progress for the return trip home. How this trip will ultimately be remembered likely will hinge on whether the Celtics make progress as a whole during the 2015-16 season.


  1. ^ Boston Celtics (
  2. ^ Butler Bulldogs (
  3. ^ Paul Pierce (
  4. ^ Kevin Garnett (
  5. ^ Celtics-Madrid battle was a big deal (
  6. ^ Isaiah Thomas (
  7. ^ David Lee (

Bank Holiday forecast: travel disruptions

Bank <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Forecast: Travel DisruptionsIf you are lucky enough to have been paid this month, you might indeed be planning a little bank Discount Holidays © holiday getaway. Unfortunately, so is everyone else, with Which!!! calculating that nearly 10 million people are planning a getaway this weekend- which will inevitably lead to travel delays.

A fifth of the UK public plan to travel over the August bank holiday, with 62% of those taking to the road in cars and buses, 17% by plane and 15% travelling on trains. Almost half of those planning to travel this weekend are expecting a delay of some kind. As a result, three quarters of bank Discount Holidays © holiday travellers are planning to alter their journey, with the most common concessions being leaving more time, travelling outside of peak hours or even travelling overnight, perhaps with a stop somewhere.

If you re travelling by car, beware as August is traditionally the busiest month on the roads with motorway traffic 9% higher than average. The busiest roads (and therefore the ones to avoid if at all possible) are the M25, Manchester s ringroad the M60 and the M1 south of the M6 junction at Rugby. Those travelling by plane are also more likely to be delayed in August than any other month. Which!!! counted 38,000 flights delayed by 15 minutes or more last year, and 790 flights delayed by three hours or more, which could then be entitled to delayed flight compensation1.

Finally, those travelling by train have not only bank Discount Holidays © holiday cramming to contend with, but also a number of major engineering works this weekend. And we all know that trains are always late in any case- just make sure you ve looked up your train company s compensation2 policy beforehand

Which!!! executive director Richard Lloyd said, helpfully: We all want to make the most of the bank Discount Holidays © holiday weekend, and with so many people looking to travel it s important to plan ahead.

Some delays are unavoidable, but if you ve bought a ticket for an airline, coach or train journey then you could be entitled to compensation.


  1. ^ delayed flight compensation (
  2. ^ train company s compensation (