TORONTO, Canada-For the first time in Austin Peay State University basketball history a team twice will be playing outside the United States during one season.
The first of those trips will be of the exhibition variety, starting this weekend when the Governors play three straight days in Toronto. Later in the fall, the Govs will head to Cancun for the final two games of the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge.
The preseason trip begins Saturday when the Governors play Seneca College, 3 p.m., in APSU's first exhibition game in history outside the U.S. The Govs then will play two more games over the next two days against a collection of Canadian former NCAA players and European professionals-first against A-Game Hoops, 1 p.m., Sunday, and then versus the ABC All-Stars, 6 p.m., Monday.
Head coach Dave Loos is anxious to see his young team. The Govs lost 69 percent of their offense from 2011-12, including their four top leading scorers. The leading returning scorers are senior guard Jerome Clyburn (6.3 ppg) and junior forward Will Triggs (6.2 ppg). Redshirt senior Anthony Campbell (4.6 ppg), who has missed most of the last two seasons with knee issues, is also back, but will not play in Canada for more precautionary reasons after last winter's surgery.
In other words, the Governors largely will be looking to inexperienced returnees and newcomers on the Canadian trip.
"Obviously, we are looking forward to the trip, the games and the other things that go with it," Loos said. "I think it will be a great experience for our kids. But as a coach, maybe the best part of this has been the 10 days of practice leading up to it.
"We have been able to learn a lot about our new guys and our current players. It gives these young guys, these freshmen, a little jump start on what college basketball is like."
Loos knows his four freshmen, 6-8 center/forward Chris Horton, 6-7 forward Preston Herring, 6-5 guard Corey Arentsen and 6-2 guard AJ Lynch will be counted on this fall, in particular, on this upcoming trip.
"I really like our new guys," Loos said. "All four are going to contribute to our team. With them being as young as they are, I don't know if that is good or bad. They all are talented kids and we are going to need them to contribute.
"Each of the freshmen has something about their game that has been intriguing. Chris Horton has shown the ability to block and alter some shots. We have played AJ a bunch at the point and it has been encouraging how he has handled it.
"Arentsen is the best shooter of the new people and Preston Herring is really skilled; we recruited him as a four-man but he has proven he is a face-up guy. He is a 6-7 three-man which is pretty good to have."
Of the returnees, Loos has been impressed with the offseason work of Triggs, who has logged many minutes during his first two seasons. He has shown the willingness to step forward in his third Govs season.
"Will has played well," Loos said. "As always he plays hard and plays with a lot of toughness. He is a guy who has stood out. He has hustled, has played the best defense on the interior."
Clyburn is getting looks at both guard spots as is sophomore Herdie Lawrence, who finished the 2011-12 season as the starter at point. Sophomore Thomas Greer, junior Alton Williams and sophomore Kevin Covington also return to the backcourt.
Up front, junior center Matt Hasse is being counted on to provide productive minutes inside as is sophomore Chris Freeman, who struggled through an up-and-down freshman season. Sophomore Joe Harms also provide depth along the front line.
"We have emphasized the defensive end these 10 days," said Loos, who has been frustrated by that aspect of his team's play over the last few seasons. "It also was a focal point during our summer workouts and it will continue to be."
Although the Govs will be playing three games in three days, they also will get to experience the area's culture as well. In fact, after flying into Buffalo, they will bus to Toronto, stopping at Niagara Falls.
"I think this (cultural) is part of all of this," Loos said. "In addition to seeing Niagara Falls, we will be based in Toronto and we will be able to see the sights around the city-they have a few things planned for us.
"We have talked about the differences in cell phone usage and currency, some of the adjustments you have to make."
Some of those adjustments also will occur on the court. The games will follow International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, which includes the eight-second rule to advance the ball past midcourt; the wider lane; knocking the ball off the rim and officials not handling throws in when balls are knocked out of bounds.