In Siena, Italy there’s a head coach of a professional basketball team that has admiration, pride and attention focused on Texas Tech’s starting point guard. He sees a lot of himself in Davide Moretti, the sophomore who is averaging 11.0 points and 3.0 assists through six games for the Red Raiders and is reminded of how he approached the game as professional in Europe before starting a family and beginning his coaching career. More than anything though, he’s proud of the way his son is committing himself to his aspirations.
“I tried to give him my passion for the game” said Paolo Moretti, the head coach of Siena 1871 and Davide’s father. “I believe that we have the same head and the same heart. I coached him more outside the court than inside. Like me, he hates to lose and loves to win. In basketball, he is much better than me though.”
With the support of his father, mother, Mariolina Tozzi, and brother, Niccolo, the move from Bologna, Italy to Lubbock, Texas is one that is built upon devoting himself each day toward achieving his goals. It was a sacrifice for Davide to leave his family and friends, but he’s committed and it is showing for his family back home who are watching with pride, his coaches who are trusting him on the court and his Texas Tech teammates who value the work he’s put in and his production.
“Davide is what our program is all about. Progression,” Texas Tech senior Norense Odiase said. “You see him becoming more comfortable in his second year. He’s grown so much on and off the floor. He’s always working to improve his game and it’s paying dividends whenever the lights come on.”
Moretti currently ranks second in the Big 12 with a 3.60 assist-to-turnover ratio with 15 assists and only five turnovers through six games. He’s shooting 47.6 percent from the field, including going 9-for-24 (37.5%) on 3-pointers and then has stepped up to the free-throw line where he has knocked down 17 of 18 shots (94.4%). He’s scored 17 points twice already this season, first hitting five 3-pointers against Mississippi Valley State in the second game of the season and then scoring 17 in the win over Southern Cal last week at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. He started the season with a lob pass for an alley-oop dunk for Tariq Owens on the first possession of the season opener and finished with a career-high six assists in the 50-point win over Incarnate Word.
Numbers are up, and more consistent, to start his sophomore season that is following a freshman year of growth. He spent his first year in Lubbock learning the collegiate game while also producing. He’d play in all 37 games, averaging 3.5 points per game and contributing 42 assists during the run to the NCAA Elite Eight before dedicating himself to improving and becoming the player he’s been so far this season.
“I’m really proud of Moro and think he has taken the next step,” Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard said. “There was definitely and adjustment for him to get use to the physicality and athleticism of college basketball that he had to go through. He had a good freshman year with some of his best basketball coming in March, but the goal in the spring, summer and fall was to get him prepared to take the next step. He still has a ways to go like all of our players but I really think he’s on track. I see him keeping getting better as his career goes on.”
“Moro has been playing with a ton of confidence,” Texas Tech senior Matt Mooney added. “He’s a great leader on the floor and always seems to make the right play. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with.”
Moretti gained valuable experience in every practice and game along the road to the program’s first trip to the NCAA Elite Eight. He’d score a freshman-year high of 14 points in a win over Florida Atlantic after scoring 10 in his first-ever game against South Alabama, but also saw games where he struggled. He learned from both. In the postseason he continued showing his promise, scoring seven points against No. 11 Purdue in the Sweet 16 matchup and the seven more against No. 2 Villanova in the Elite Eight. Looking back at his first year, Moretti values the challenges and lessons that came along the way and used them to prepare for this season and an increased role.
“I knew when I came here that it was going to be a process,” Moretti said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. There have been good and bad moments that have me where I’m at now. I think I’m getting there but I’m not satisfied. I’m gaining experience and am working with my teammates every single day to be our best.”
Moretti arrived at Texas Tech with international experience having played at various levels of club and had already represented Italy in six FIBA events including the 2013 U16 European, 2014 U17 World, 2014 U16 European, 2015 U18 European, 2016 U20 European and 2017 U20 European Championships. He’d gain even more knowledge last summer after his freshman year, competing in the U20 European Championship in Germany. He finished the tournament averaging 12.9 points, 2.0 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game, including a tournament-high 29 points against Serbia where he hit four 3-pointers. His game is a blend of both styles of basketball and he said the adjustment was one that he has worked on in his strength and conditioning program to meet the demands of college basketball.
“The athleticism here is the biggest thing that is different,” said Moretti, who also had offers from Indiana, Connecticut and Utah before signing with the Red Raiders in July, 2017. “It’s a lot faster game over here. In Europe it’s more set-plays and over here we play with motion at a faster speed. Adjusting to the athleticism of everyone was the biggest part of the game I had to work through last year.”
Davide is a different player than his dad was, but uses his father’s career as a model for what he wants to achieve. Paolo Moretti played professionally for 15 years where he would win three Italian Championships with Virtus Bologna, two Italian Cup titles with Scaligera Verona and Fortitudo Bologna and two Italian Supercup championships with Virtus Bologna and Fortitudo Bologna throughout the 1990s. He’d also win a silver medal in EuroBasket in 1997 before turning to coaching in 2001. He coached Pistoia Basket from 2009-15, highlighted by winning Italian Coach of the Year in 2014 and is currently the head coach of Siena 1871, a team in the Second Italian Division. Davide was young when his father retired from playing, but has seen him coach throughout his life. He credits his dad for his love of the game and for helping him get to the point he is now at Texas Tech.
“My dad was a great player and I always wanted to be just like him,” Moretti said. “There was always a competition between us to help me get better at basketball. He pushed me every day to be my best and was always there for me. I’m trying to be just like him, but also trying to win more than he did and be a better player than he was. He’s a big part of the inspiration I have to work hard every day.”
“I’m very happy for the stupendous experience of life and basket that Davide is doing at Texas Tech,” Paolo Moretti added. “Now Davide is completely in the system and belongs to the system. His body is growing and so is his head with his approach to the game.”
Moretti said his experience playing back home in Italy last summer gave him confidence in scoring that he has carried over to this year, but that he is embracing a multi-dimensional role on a team with players all around the court who can produce. He learned to be a team player back home in Italy and then saw it in action last season as the Red Raiders made their way through the NCAA tournament. Now he’s a starter and a leader, a player who understands the plan and is trusted to go on the court and execute it.
“We are a team where everybody can score,” Moretti said. “There are going to be some games where I’m scoring but others when I’m getting them the ball where they need it. We are all unselfish. My role can change every game and I’m prepared for that. I know I can score but that’s not the most important thing I can do for our team. My job is to do whatever is needed on the next play to help our team win.”