Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Women?s Basketball Tour of Italy: Day 10 ? Part II, When in Rome
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 25, 2007
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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By: Julian Temblador


Rome ?- When in Rome Rule No. 1: Always expect the unexpected.  Yesterday, I had an unbelievable first day in the extraordinary city of Rome partly because most of what I experienced was not expected.  Our day started out by waking up at 6:30 a.m. to be ready to get in the line and enter the Vatican at 7 a.m.  Once in the Vatican, I realized right away that I was in for much more than I anticipated.


I had always known that the Vatican was its own country.  What I did not know is that the Popes from over the centuries managed to fit a world of history, art, and architecture in an area probably no larger than the campus of The University of Arizona.  As Marie McGee so eloquently put in her description of the Vatican yesterday, the house that the Popes build can not truly be described with words.


She, however, did not climb over 1,000 steps to the top of Saint Peter’s Cathedral.  After viewing the Sistine Chapel, the inside of Vatican City, and inside of Saint Peter’s, the view at the top of this enormous cathedral was absolutely breathtaking.


The hike up is not for the weak, but the view at the top is worth it.  Seeing the spectacular and historic city of Rome in its entirety was one of the most overwhelming experiences I had on this trip (And I’m saying this being head-over-heals in love with Venice).


So, Rule No. 1 came into effect early on for me because after our tour of the Vatican I thought there was nothing more to see.  I was wrong, obviously, because climbing up to the top of Saint Peter’s was truly an unexpectedly cherished experience.


Yet, my day was not done ?- by far.    We next had an 8 p.m. game against Pomezia.  During the first four games of our tour, I had spent my time at the end of the team bench keeping the points, rebounds and other stats of the game.  For our last game of the trip, I thought I would breeze through my job since I had four games under my belt.


When in Rome Rule No. 1: Always expect the unexpected.


The first quarter of the game was surprisingly tight, as the Wildcats battled tough with a very experienced Pomezia team with the scored tied at 20-20 going into the second quarter.  The Wildcats then started to pull away at the start of the second with a 6-0 run in the first minute.


When in Rome Rule No. 1: Always expect the unexpected.


With 6:43 on the clock in the second quarter, a hand-checking foul was called on a Wildcat player who nonchalantly questioned the referee about her illegal action.


The referee, unexpectedly, took the player’s inquiry harshly and stormed off the court and did not return.  After a short delay with both teams trying to figure out how to continue the game, coach Joan Bonvicini yells to me at the end of the bench, “Hey Julian, get in there and ref.”


When in Rome Rule No. 1: Always expect the unexpected.


Without any hesitation or second guessing, even though I have never refereed a game in my life, I got up, put down my stat sheet, grabbed a whistle and got the game going again without any regard to the fact I was wearing khakis and a polo shirt. 


Now, I think I am pretty good with overall basketball knowledge.  I know when certain calls should be made, and I’m familiar with the basic rules of the game.  I learned the hard way how difficult being a basketball referee is.  The view on the court is unlike any from courtside, and blowing a whistle is much harder than you think.  After spending many years taking jabs at referees for blowing calls or being too quick with a whistle, I found a new respect for referees, so much so that I might start cheering for them (and them only) when I’m at games.


After sprinting up and down the court for two and a half quarters, I worked up a heavy sweat and was completely drenched from head to toe.  After a scrumptious pizza dinner at a Cuban-Italian restaurant and an hour-long bus ride back to the hotel, I was dead-tired and ready to crash. 


So, after an unforgettable day in Rome where I was able to experience the Vatican, I learned a quintessential law of this historic city:


When in Rome, always expect the unexpected.


You never know when you might have to referee your first international basketball game.

WB Welcome Coach Barnes