Lebo and his coaching staff will spend all of their practice time focusing on getting the Tigers ready to improve on last season's 17-15 record rather than specifically preparing for the Mexico professional teams they will face in three games at Cancun.
"I don't have any idea on the level of competition," Lebo says. "I hope it is good because that will be better for us. They should be decent. I think they are older guys and most professional teams, anywhere you play, are physical so that will be great for our big guys."
Lebo returns all five of his starters plus all key reserves from last season. He says the group looks good physically with an extra year of strength and conditioning drills directed by Bryan Karkoska. "They have worked hard in the weight room," Lebo says. "Our strength coach (Karkoska) has done a phenomenal job with them, and the kids deserve credit, too. He has worked them hard, and he has a plan for them. They are buying into it, and they have seen changes in their bodies.
"They have worked hard to get to this point," adds Lebo, who notes the Tigers will try to get into basketball shape for games that are less than two weeks away. "We are not in great shape, but we are in decent shape for this time of the year," he points out. "In 10 days, we will be ready to go."
Players like Lucas Hargrove, a freshman last season, have added strength, Lebo notes.
The Tigers will fly to Mexico on August 8th and will play their first exhibition game the following day vs. Quintana Roo Pioneros.
Senior forward Quan Prowell, who played on an exhibition tour to China earlier this year, says he was pleased with what he saw during an up-tempo workout on the opening day of practice for the Tigers. "It was a good practice and we came up and picked up where we left off last season," he says. "I think it is a good start that will set the tone for the season."
Lebo notes that the Tigers were able to get a lot done on the first day of practice because the players retained a lot of what they had learned the previous season. The 11 returnees from last season's team were healthy and ready to practice on Sunday.
"They remembered some things," Lebo says. "It is nice to have this many guys who have a semblance of how hard we are going to practice."
Lebo, who is beginning his fourth season as head coach of the Tigers, says, "We tried to put some semblance of our fastbreak in and we did some defensive things," he says. "Day one of practice is real basic. We put in a couple of side out of bounds plays."
The coach says he plans to do some experimenting with the offense on this tour while concentrating on playing good man to man defense.