Tigers prepare for trip north of the border

The LSU men's basketball team begins preparation Friday for a Labor Day weekend exhibition trip to Canada.

According to NCAA regulations, teams are allowed to make a trip away from the United States every four years and prior to such trips the teams are allowed to practice up to a maximum of 10 days. Because of LSU's school schedule that begins on Monday, the Tigers will only be able to practice those players who were part of the 2006-07 team on the first three days. Newcomers may watch the practices but can't take part until the team practices on Monday once classes begin.


LSU will practice through Aug. 31 and then leave that evening for Toronto where they will play three games -- Sept. 1 (6 p.m.) against the University of Guelph, located about 65 miles from Toronto; Sept. 2 (2 p.m.) against York University, the third largest University in Canada; and, Sept. 3 (10 a.m.) against the University of Toronto, the country's largest school with some 70,000 students.


Per NCAA regulations, the team will return Monday night so that the student-athletes may resume classes on Sept. 4.


LSU Coach John Brady sees the practice time as an advantage for his Tiger team, but also sees a bigger picture as his team prepares for the trip.


"The practice time is good, but the time together is going to be the most important thing," Brady said. "It is going to be great for our team to get some early workouts, see the new guys play and get some things on film. That lets our guys see themselves, and we can develop an identity of play before we start practice."


October 12 is the first official day of practice allowed by the NCAA but the team is allowed to have weight workouts and individual drills from the time they return from Canada up until the start of practice.


The tradition of American teams visiting Canada on Labor Day weekend has been established in recent years. This year, Oral Roberts, Morehead State and Duquesne will be playing some of the same teams LSU is playing, while Alabama will be visiting the Canadian province of Ottawa for some of its exhibition tour. National champion Florida came to Canada last year, beating Guelph and the Brock Badgers.


The Guelph Gryphons were 15-12 a year ago and played five American teams, losing to Lipscomb, Florida (55-84), Davidson and UNC Charlotte while defeating Indiana State. This will mark the fourth consecutive year the York Lions, 15-7 a year ago, will face American competition. York is 2-4 in that time with wins over Middle Tennessee State and Lake Superior State.


"It (facing American teams) is a real challenge," said York coach Bob Bain, who is in his 33rd season as head coach at York with 694 victories to his credit. "It's exciting and it's a good recruiting tool. It is a nice thing for our players to look forward to."


The Varsity Blues of Toronto were 26-11 overall a year ago and 3-5 in the last two years against American teams.

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