Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning until practice tips off.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili is probably the most well traveled of any Illinois men’s basketball player. Growing up in both Georgia and Austria basically make that a given.
So the Illini sophomore forward just had some simple advice for his teammates before they left for their three-city, 10-day foreign tour of Italy.
“There’s little things like when you order a drink in Europe you’re not going to get ice in it like here,” Bezhanishvili said. “Just real little things like that. Not too much. We’re just going to get there and have fun.”
Illinois did run into an issue during the program’s last foreign tour in 2015. Darius Paul was arrested in France for public intoxication, vandalism and resisting arrest. He was subsequently suspended by then-coach John Groce, sent home from the trip and was ultimately dismissed from the team later that same month.
Bezhanishvili said he didn’t feel it was necessary to warn his teammates about things they shouldn’t do while they’re in Italy.
“Don’t do nothing stupid,” he said with a laugh the day before the team left on Sunday. “I know our guys are really smart guys — great character. They know how to behave in any place. We’re just going to go there and have fun. I have nothing to tell them, ‘Behave like this.’ They’re all smart guys.”
As much as Bezhanishvili has traveled, his experience in Italy before this trip with his teammates was limited to a short, two-hour drive through the northern part of the country although his mom, Lali, had made previous trips.
“My mom has been there a couple times, and it’s really, really beautiful,” Bezhanishvili said. “I know everybody will be impressed how beautiful actually the country is. Rome is one of the oldest cities out there — a lot of history there.”