Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 11:45 a.m.
When the Las Vegas temperatures are still a tortuous 110 degrees this August, the UNLV basketball team will seek refuge north of the border.
The Rebels’ NCAA-permitted trip this year will be to Ottawa and Montreal from Aug. 16-23. Once every four years, teams are allowed to take a basketball-related trip outside of the country. UNLV’s last trip was to Australia.
UNLV coach Dave Rice said that Canada was an easy pick once the team added freshman forward Khem Birch, who’s from Montreal. He’s not allowed to play in the games because he must sit out until after the fall semester, but he will be able to practice and then go home and be with his family while watching the games.
Before they leave, the Rebels get 10 days of practice starting the first week of August. That, Rice said, may be as important as anything the team does in Canada. New players are eligible to play, so it will be the first time that the new recruits will be able to practice with the team and coaches.
In Canada, UNLV will play four to five games against still undetermined opponents. The slate will likely include top Canadian college teams and maybe a U-19 all-star team.
These trips are usually good bonding experiences ahead of the season. And it doesn’t hurt UNLV’s recruiting efforts, either.
Findlay Prep’s Anthony Bennett, who played AAU basketball with Birch in Canada, is still deciding among five schools, including the Rebels. And with his mother living about five and half hours from Ottawa, the trip could be something of a homecoming for him, too.