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USF men to face Canadian college dynasty on upcoming tour

The Bulls will play four games north of the border starting this weekend
USF third-year coach Brian Gregory addresses his team during the early stage of Tuesday's practice. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
USF third-year coach Brian Gregory addresses his team during the early stage of Tuesday's practice. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
Published Jul. 30, 2019
Updated Jul. 30, 2019

TAMPA ― The itinerary has long since been set. The USF men's upcoming four-game Canadian tour will take them to a pair of cities and at least one snake pit.

Though it’s virtually impossible to match March intensity in August, the Bulls will get a darn solid replication of it on Aug. 7, when they face Canadian collegiate dynasty Carleton in Montreal.

The game is one of four the Bulls will play north of the border on their excursion that begins this weekend. Carleton, 44-31 all-time against NCAA opposition, has won 14 national titles in the last 17 years.

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“They’ve beaten some pretty good teams,” Bulls coach Brian Gregory said.

The victims include Cincinnati and Ole Miss last summer; Alabama, Providence and Vanderbilt in 2017; and Wisconsin in ’13, the summer before the Badgers made the Final Four.

The current Ravens roster includes 6-foot-3 veteran guard Marcus Anderson, the reigning national defensive player of the year; and 6-9 forward Eddie Ekiyor, a first-team All-Canada selection.

The other opponents, while not in Carleton’s class, should provide solid tests to a veteran Bulls club that will get 10 total practices before embarking on the trip, which will feature a 24-second shot clock for all games.

“We’re not gonna do any scouting or game preparation,” Gregory said. "What we do in practice every day is cover two or three different actions that are general actions, just so we’ve got the coverages down in case we see 'em.

“But Canadian basketball is very good, and these guys are usually a little bit older. They are able to practice year-round which is pretty good; maybe something we want to look at a little bit in the United States. And they’re very, very well coached.”

Laval University, whom the Bulls face Monday in Quebec City, Quebec, finished 5-11 last season but defeated South Carolina State and Florida A&M last summer.

Sunday’s opponent, the University of Quebec, lost by 23 to NCAA Tournament qualifier Vermont last summer but returns center Alex Lochard, the national rookie of the year (18.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg).

McGill, whom the Bulls play Aug. 8 in Montreal, lost to five NCAA teams last summer including Cincinnati, Vermont and Duke.

“We’re basically just building more steps until the regular season comes up,” junior Justin Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of high expectations for this season coming up, so this trip is really gonna help us get even more prepared for the regular season.”

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The Bulls, who return all five starters and nine of their top 10 scorers from last season’s 24-14 club, will not have senior point guard Laquincy Rideau available for any of the four games. Rideau grimaced his way through a stress reaction in his left leg down the stretch last season and is being held out as a precaution.

“That’s gonna make more playing time available to some other guys and get him 100 percent,” Gregory said, “So when we get back to school and we start the one month of workouts that we have before practice starts, he’ll be full-go at that time.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.