EDITOR’S NOTE: One of the cool things about having a staff writer from Italy working for Viva the Matadors is that you can get him to translate interviews from an Italian basketball player on the team. Andrea Cornaglia is our guy. We heard about an exclusive interview Davide Moretti gave to an Italian basketball website and reached out to their editors for permission to translate and publish it here on VTM. Hope you enjoy!
This is the translation of the interview Davide Moretti gave to basketinside.com (@basketinside360 on Twitter), an Italian website that follows basketball in many forms, including NCAA, NBA, European, and Italian competitions. The interviewer, Lucia Montanari, did a wonderful job exploring all the facets a year in the USA can mean for a foreign player, the emotions the March Madness offers, and plans Davide has for the upcoming months.
For those interested, you can find the link to the original interview here and follow Lucia on Twitter (@LuciMonta15). And if you don’t speak Italian, it’s just a way to thank them for the nice work they did.
The March Madness, to which Davide Moretti took part, ended a couple of weeks ago for his Texas Tech, defeated at the Elite Eight by Villanova, which eventually became champions. Davide, however, has not stopped training: he continues his workouts in view of the summer preparation that will see him engaged both with his university and, above all, the U20 national team. We reached him by phone to talk about the NCAA tournament and his first year in the United States.
L: Hello Davide, the season ended a few days ago. What is your opinion of your first year in the States?
D: Definitely a positive judgment. I feel like a different player than when I came here, I improved under the points of view that I wanted to improve and it was precisely the search for this improvement that pushed me towards this adventure. My opinion of this first year is certainly high, even if there have been some difficult moments in the central phase of the season, but I have to admit at the beginning and at the end it was a very good year.
L: What did March Madness mean to you and what were the biggest emotions?
D: It was something incredible, because I found myself involved in a fantastic show followed all over the world and it was something really special to be there and experience it in person. It left me with emotions impossible to forget. Being on the court of NBA arenas, with my team, playing against the best American college teams was really something unique.
L: Is there a particular anecdote you want to tell about March Madness?
D: During the tournament, we were always treated like a real NBA team. When we were in Boston, coming back from a training, we had to pass through to the city center to go back to our hotel, and there were twice as many cars on the road as we find at rush hour in Rome. We passed through all these areas, even going in the wrong direction, escorted by the police who acted as watersheds. It was a nice moment. It was strange because it made me feel really important.
L: Which was your key ingredient to conquer this historic goal of the Elite 8? How was this exploit received on the TTU campus?
D: Our identity was always based on defense, since the beginning of the year. We have always been among the best five teams, sometimes even among the best three, for “points against.” Our defense was always our trademark that we also showed in March Madness.
In this contest, we were one of the best teams in this sector, and the best defense against Villanova, the team that then won the tournament. This was undoubtedly our strong point.
Inside the campus we are seen as “legends,” we made the history on this campus! People are really happy, they thank us when they see us, and there is a very charged and very happy atmosphere for what we have achieved this season.
L: What was the biggest difference you noticed between Italy and the United States, in terms of play and training?
D: Talking about training, games are prepared much more in detail, because here in the States you play every two or three days and therefore you don’t have the possibility to train all week as you do in Italy. Training sessions are developed to allow the team to prepare in the best way for the next game, both for individual players and for the opponents’ general game. During the season, there are not many long workouts. They’re shorter, more intense, and more “mental.”
The biggest difference regarding the game is definitely the athleticism and the greater physicality than overseas. I chose to play in the best conference in America because I wanted to improve and develop the crucial aspects that distinguish American basketball. Competing against higher level athletes can only make you better.
L: On what did you improve the most? What do you think you have to work on to become a top player at the European level?
D: I improved a lot my defense, as it was our trademark and to earn minutes on the court you had to try to make the fewest mistakes, defensively speaking. I feel like a better player from a defensive standpoint.
To keep growing, I have to develop my playmaker skills even further, trying to help and hold the team from the beginning to the end of the game. At this level, these things can give me an important step forward.
L: Which was the “easiest” thing and which was the most complicated part of this adventure, both on and off the court?
D: Mmm .. I really struggle to find the easiest thing! The most complicated part was in the central part of the season, when I seemed to have lost the confidence of the coaching staff and it was later difficult to return to the levels I started the season.
Perhaps the thing that came in the easiest way, all year long and especially during this difficult time, was to be every day at the gym, trying to improve and find the confidence and the trust I needed through my individual training sessions.
L: What are Davide Moretti’s plans for the summer?
D: I’m trying to match both 20 national team and Texas Tech commitments. The college is very helpful and available to let me go with the national team, so I don’t see any obstacles to my participation in the “Azzurro” camp. (Author’s note: “Azzurro” or “Azzurri” is the nickname of Italian national teams in many sports.)
I will be back here in the States a couple of times during the summer to train with the new team and to improve further.
In addition, during the summer, I organized together with my dad, Paolo, a camp called “Moretti Basketball Dream Camp”, which will include two distinct locations, Rimini (from June 17th to 23rd) and Ovada (from July 29th to August 4th, and from August 5th to 11th), where I will stay with the children and I will try to tell and explain my experience, as it was something special and I think it has to be told and listened to.
L: From your words, your return to Texas Tech seems obvious, but what does your future include?
D: Next year I will definitely return to Texas Tech, then I will evaluate the development of the second year and decide whether to stay longer or return to Europe. I don’t exclude the fact of playing two more years in the United States or in any case to finish here the whole basketball and educational path that the American college provides.