Men’s basketball Lions prepare for cross-border showdown

The York Lions men’s basketball team will face a stiff test when two NCAA Division I squads touch down at the Tait McKenzie Centre for pre-season games this weekend.

York Lions Tut RuachThe Lions play host to Kentucky’s Morehead State University Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 8pm, and then entertain the Louisiana State University Tigers, who made an appearance in the NCAA Final Four in 2006, on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 3pm. It marks the fourth consecutive year in which the Lions will face American teams in exhibition games.

Labour Day weekend games between NCAA teams and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) teams in Canada have become quite popular over the past few years. This weekend, CIS outfits will play 55 games against NCAA men’s basketball teams.

Right: Tut Ruach / Rita Abiog photo

NCAA teams are allowed to make a trip away from the United States every four years and also are allowed to practice for a maximum of 10 days before making a trip. The Lions are 2-4 against American teams in the past three years.

“It (facing American teams) is a real challenge,” said Lions head coach Bob Bain, who has nine players returning from last season’s team. “It’s exciting and it’s a good recruiting tool. It’s a nice thing for our players to look forward to.”

The game against LSU, which has produced NBA players Tyrus Thomas (Chicago Bulls) and Shaquille O’Neal (Miami Heat), is a highlight on the York schedule. LSU has seven returning players from a team that advanced to the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament last season. The Tigers will also play games against the Guelph Gryphons (Sept. 1) and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

“The Labour Day trip will benefit us significantly as a coaching staff and allow us to come back and see what our team is capable of in terms of the players we have and what their strengths are and what we really need to work on,” Tigers head coach John Brady said. “We’re excited about being able to do that over the Labour Day weekend.”

Morehead State, meanwhile, is expecting to evaluate nine new players during a four-game trip against York, Toronto, Ryerson and Guelph. The Eagles lost a first-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament game against Eastern Kentucky last year, but they ended their regular season on a high, beating OVC conference regular season champion Austin Peay State University of Clarkson, Tenn.

“(The trip) will help us get a base into our team from a practice standpoint earlier than we are usually allowed to,” Eagles coach Donnie Tyndall told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Tickets for the NCAA pre-season games are $8 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased beginning one hour prior to tip-off at the Tait McKenzie Centre on York’s Keele campus.

Submitted to YFile by Mike Koreen, sport & recreation information officer in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health.