Looking ahead to their upcoming exhibition tour of Italy, the Tennessee Basketball Vols are hoping to win out. First, though, one of them is hoping to chill out.
That would be redshirt freshman Quinton Chievous.
"I don't like to fly, really — I'm kind of scared," he said recently. "But, besides that, I think I'll have a lot of fun with my teammates."
Some folks try to neutralize their fear of flying with Dramamine. Chievous has another plan ... pre-trip sleep deprivation.
"I'll probably stay up and then try to sleep as much as I can on the plane," he said. "Maybe listen to music."
The exhibition tour probably means more to Chievous than any other Vol, since he redshirted last season and has never played in an actual game with his college teammates. Still, he feels he has nothing left to prove.
"A lot of the coaches know what I can do," he said. "I just had to sit out the year for my redshirt. Now I have the opportunity to show even more what I can do, improving the whole year over last year."
Assistant coach Tracy Webster believes the exhibition tour will be a tremendous benefit for the Vols, particularly incoming signees D'montre Edwards, Derek Reese and Armani Moore.
"That's definitely going to help us," Webster said. "When you get a chance to work together as a group — and with the freshmen coming in — that is very important. The more practices you have, hopefully, the better your team is going to be once the season comes."
Chievous agrees that the tour of Italy should enable the returnees and newcomers to blend into a more cohesive team.
"I think it will really help us bond," he said. "The players are really close now but I feel like the players coming in will get a feel for everybody. We'll have fun over there playing but we'll also have time to relax and get to know the newcomers a lot better."
Naturally, Tennessee's players are pumped about the opportunity to tour Italy while getting a head start on the 2012-13 basketball season.
"I'm definitely excited," rising senior guard Skylar McBee said. "I've never been there before, so it will be good experience. It's another chance for us to show what we can do and how much we've improved over the offseason."
Several Vols participated in the Rocky Top Summer League but playing as a team in Italy should provide even greater benefits.
"Of course, getting to play earlier than we usually do and getting to see how much we improved over the summer," McBee said. "Getting to travel somewhere you might never be able to go again ... that's what college is all about."
Italy will be the second overseas tour of the summer for rising sophomore Josh Richardson, who already spent two weeks in Poland and Germany as part of the Athletes In Action program. He believes the Italian tour will improve team chemistry.
"I'm excited. I think it's going to be fun," he said. "I think it will help us become a lot closer as a team. We've come a long way in the past year."
Richardson, a wing who also may be the backup point guard in 2012-13, believes the tour of Italy can help him prepare for whatever lies ahead.
"I think we can progress a whole lot in every area," he said. "I can progress in ballhandling, Skylar can progress in ballhandling. Everybody's got to figure out what their role is and keep trying to get better."