NCAA rules allow college basketball programs to take one foreign trip every four years, and such excursions can prove beneficial to teams looking to get a head start on the upcoming season.
In theory having the team together in unfamiliar surroundings can help build off-court chemistry, while also having the benefit of practices and games that can help teams mesh on the court.
Wisconsin will leave the country for eight days but Bo Ryan’s team won’t travel all that far, with the Badgers playing five exhibitions in Ottawa and Toronto. Wisconsin won 23 games last season but with mainstays such as Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans out of eligibility, the extra court time is a positive for Ryan’s squad.
Point guard Bronson Koenig and forward Nigel Hayes lead a six-member freshman class, and there’s also the return of point guard Josh Gasser. Expected to be the starter before the 2012-13 season began, Gasser suffered a torn ACL in preseason practice and missed the entire year.
Wisconsin’s trip to Canada will help veterans Ben Brust and Sam Dekker get even more familiar with their new teammates, and the voyage also allows Gasser to shake off some of the rust that can come as a result of a season-ending injury.
“We’re really looking forward to this trip and the opportunities it presents for preparing us for next season,” Ryan said in a statement released by the school.
“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.”
Among the Badgers’ five games in Canada is a matchup with the Canadian Junior National Team, which could include players such as Andrew Wiggins (Kansas; has yet to determine summer schedule for Team Canada), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State).
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.