In an effort to shake up preseason play, Wisconsin's men's basketball team will travel to Canada in late August for an eight-day trip of exhibition games. The Badgers will visit Ottawa and Toronto over the span of five games Aug. 21-26, the program announced Thursday.
Wisconsin will be able to bring all 17 players on its roster, and unlike the 2006 trip to Italy, freshman will be able to play. The Badgers are permitted 10 practices over the course of the summer, in addition to the two hours of instructional time allowed each week during the offseason.
"We're really looking forward to this trip and the opportunities it presents for preparing us for next season," head coach Bo Ryan said. "Taking this trip allows us 10 practices and five games, which is a great luxury. One aspect that is different from our 2006 trip to Italy is that incoming freshmen are now permitted to practice and play. So for a team with as many new faces as we will have, this gives us a head start on the season.
"A week-long trip like this is also great for team camaraderie and the chemistry it builds," Ryan continued. "We'll get good competition, including the opportunity to play two national teams, both the Juniors and a men's select team. Those games will be extremely beneficial regardless of the outcomes. We'll use lots of lineups and work on a variety of things. It gives us the chance to throw our freshmen into the fire and help our returning players adjust to changing roles. Hopefully this expedites the process looking ahead to the 2013-14 season."
The first game on Aug. 21 comes against Carleton University in Ottawa. Considered a Canadian powerhouse from Ontario University Athletics (OUA), the Ravens have won nine of the last 11 Canadian national championships. The following day, the Badgers get the University of Ottawa, who finished second in the East Division of the OUA last season.
In Toronto, the Badgers will face the Canadian Junior National Team on Aug. 24. The national team consists of the country's top prep players and finished third in the 2012 FIBA World Championships with the likes of Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) on the roster. On Aug. 25, Wisconsin plays Ryerson University, led by Canadian National team head coach Roy Rana. The trip wraps up the next day against A-Game Hoops, a men's select team comprised largely of professional players. A-Game Hoops is 6-4 against NCAA Division teams the last three summers.
Aside from the obviously beneficial exposure Wisconsin will get from this international trip, the additional competition before the season should pay dividends for a team that lost three major seniors in Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz. The Badgers have six incoming freshman this season and also get the return of senior guard Josh Gasser, who tore his ACL prior to last season.