Rebels basketball:

North of the border: Get to know UNLV’s opponents on its Canadian tour

The first game, against powerhouse Carleton University on Saturday, may be the stiffest test the Rebels face while abroad

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Passangers wait to pass through customs at the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa, Canada Thursday, August 16, 2012. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are taking part in a seven day swing through Ottawa and Montreal where they will play for exhibition games.

UNLV Basketball - 2012 First Practice

UNLV guards Katin Reinhardt and Anthony Marshall talk during their open practice Saturday, August 4, 2012. Launch slideshow »

OTTAWA — With so much attention on the Rebels basketball team leading up to this four-game exhibition tour in Canada, it’s easy to forget UNLV is actually playing other squads.

And while the Rebels would certainly be favored in each contest were such lines to exist, these aren’t all pushovers, especially the first opponent: Canadian juggernaut Carleton University.

So, let’s take a minute to get to know the neighbors to the north who will be hosting the Rebels this week.

CARLETON UNIVERSITY

Day/time: Saturday at 4 p.m. Las Vegas time

Location: Fenn Gym

Mascot: Ravens. This is the only boring one on the docket, I promise.

Breakdown: A powerhouse over the last decade, Carleton recently survived against Buffalo with a 77-75 victory.

The Ravens are the two-time defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champions and have won eight such titles in the past 10 years. However, coach Dave Smart told the Ottawa Citizen after Tuesday’s victory against the Bulls that his young team is a little different than the dominant squads of recent years.

“We’re as talented as we’ve ever been, we just have no idea what we’re doing,” Smart said.

Last year, Carleton went 28-0 and defeated opponents by an average of about 38 points per game en route to another title in the CIS, which is an eight-team tournament that determines Canada’s national champion.

Four years ago Carleton lost a memorable two-point thriller to defending NCAA champion Kansas. UNLV senior Quintrell Thomas was a true freshman on that Jayhawks team, and the Sun’s Case Keefer was on press row.

UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA

Day/time: Sunday at 11 a.m.

Location: Montpetit Hall

Mascot: Gee-Gees. Short history lesson: Ottawa was known as the Garnet and Grey, the school colors, for most of its history. The term Gee-Gees creates a unique shortening of that name, and the physical mascot is a horse, because a gee-gee is also a term for the first racehorse out of the gate.

Breakdown: During last year’s exhibition slate, Ottawa lost 67-65 to UC Santa Barbara, the same team UNLV defeated 94-88 in a memorable double-overtime road game last season.

“When I was in high school, the Runnin’ Rebels were winning championships, led by Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon,” coach James Derouin said in an Ottawa Athletics story. “From a personal standpoint, it’s pretty amazing that we’re going to have the Runnin’ Rebels in here. It’s going to be special.”

Much like the Rebels, the Gee-Gees are working in several new pieces from a stellar recruiting class. Ottawa takes on Northeastern a day after the UNLV game.

LAVAL UNIVERSITY

Day/time: Monday at 4 p.m.

Location: Love Competition Hall

Click to enlarge photo

Victor, the mascot for the Rouge et Or of Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec, performs during a basketball game Feb. 17, 2012.

Mascot: Rouge et Or, or Red and Gold. However, they also have a guy in a suit called Victor. He sort of looks like an Angry Bird in Chuck Taylors.

Breakdown: Laval competes in the Quebec League with McGill, and last year the Rouge et Or floundered near the bottom of the league. They have some size on the interior but speed is going to be a big issue.

*Programming note: There’s a slight chance Laval University will be replaced by the University of Quebec, but not even UNLV is certain of that as of Thursday night, so stay tuned.

MCGILL UNIVERSITY

Day/time: Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Location: Love Competition Hall

Mascot: The men’s teams are known as the Redmen, a reference to their red uniforms, but the women’s teams are the Martlets and all squads are represented by Marty the Martlet. A martlet is a small bird similar to a swallow and three of them appear on the McGill crest.

Breakdown: McGill finished just below .500 in the regular season last year, though it fared much worse in exhibitions against NCAA Division I teams. McGill lost by at least 20 points to Illinois State, Central Florida, Akron and Albany.

Coach David DeAveiro is bringing in several new players and gets one back from injury. In a letter to McGill boosters, he explained his excitement for the August exhibition schedule, which includes Northeastern on Sunday before Tuesday’s game against UNLV.

“It is a great way to start our season and evaluate our young talent,” DeAveiro said. “Our players look forward to playing these games and our schedule has definitely helped us in our recruiting.”

Sound familiar, Rebels fans?

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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