PITTSBURGH (AP) -Duquesne University's basketball team found itself in an unaccustomed place Monday, a week before the start of school and three months before the Dukes' season officially starts.
On the practice floor, getting ready to play games next week.
The Dukes, who are adding three accomplished players to what previously was one of major college basketball's youngest teams, are taking advantage of a rule that allows teams to make an international tour once every four years.
Because the Dukes will spend the Labor Day weekend playing four games in Toronto, they are allowed to practice 10 days in advance. As a result, coach Ron Everhart's team is essentially going through basketball's version of spring training for the next two weeks rather than enjoying the last few days of summer vacation on a beach.
Athletic director Greg Amodio suggested the trip earlier this year, and Everhart thought the timing was right.
``It just made a lot of sense,'' Everhart said Monday. ``We recruited so many new guys last year, it's a chance to get everybody together and get some game experience without having to spend a lot of money or go a great distance. It worked out great.''
The trip allows Everhart to blend in 6-foot-10 Shawn James, the nation's leading shot blocker two seasons ago at Northeastern, and former Siena guard Kojo Mensah with the returning players who won 10 games a season ago. Last season, Everhart almost totally rebuilt a team that returned only two players from one that won only three games in the 2005-06 season.
Sam Ashaolu, the forward who nearly died after last year's shooting, won't play this season as he continues to recover from gunshot wounds to the head. He has been working out informally and is expected to join the team next season.
During its Canadian trip, Duquesne will play the University of Toronto on Sept. 1, Ryerson University and Sheridan College on Sept. 2 and the University of Waterloo on Sept. 3.
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