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MADISON - Losing five seniors, adding six freshman and having redshirt junior Josh Gasser returning from a knee injury, the Wisconsin men's basketball team has a lot of work ahead of itself to get ready for the 2013-14 season.
With that in mind, the Badgers are getting started in their preparation a couple months early.
For the first time since 2006, the Wisconsin men's basketball team will be participating in an international trip when it ventures to Canada this summer. The Badgers will play five exhibition games during the eight-day August trip, visiting Ottawa and Toronto starting August 20.
"We're really looking forward to this trip and the opportunities it presents for preparing us for next season," head coach Bo Ryan said in a statement. "Taking this trip allows us 10 practices and five games, which is a great luxury."
Seven years ago Wisconsin took a 10-day trip that included five games against Italian teams as well as time set aside to see the sights of Italy. Back then, UW could only take 13 of its players, as UW incoming freshmen (Jason Bohannon, J.P. Gavinski, Trevon Hughes and Brett Valentyn) couldn't accompany the team or participate in practice.
Ironically Ray Nixon, a senior on the previous year's team, was eligible for the trip and is taking part in practices. This time UW's seniors are out of luck and the Badgers' incoming freshmen – Vitto Brown, Riley Dearring, Jordan Hill, Bronson Koenig, Aaron Moesch and Nigel Hayes – will be able to practice and play.
Wisconsin will be permitted 10 practices throughout the summer, which is in addition to the two-hour instructional time allowed each week during the offseason.
"A week-long trip like this is also great for team camaraderie and the chemistry it builds," Ryan said. "We'll get good competition, including the opportunity to play two national teams, both the Juniors and a men's select team. Those games will be extremely beneficial regardless of the outcomes.
"We'll use lots of lineups and work on a variety of things. It gives us the chance to throw our freshmen into the fire and help our returning players adjust to changing roles. Hopefully this expedites the process looking ahead to the 2013-14 season."
The last time UW went on a foreign trip, Wisconsin went 30-6 overall, went 13-3 in the Big Ten and earned the school's first overall number one ranking in the Associated Press poll.
Television and web streaming information for Wisconsin's Canadian exhibition games will be released later this summer.
Aug. 21 – Carleton University
The Badgers will take on three teams from Ontario University Athletics, beginning with the class of the OUA, Carleton University. The Ravens have won 13 straight OUA titles and nine of the last 11 Canadian national championships. Carleton led the OUA in scoring offense, averaging 91.0 points per game and are led by Phillip Scrubb, who returns for his fourth season after averaging 18.6 ppg in 2012-13.
Aug. 22 – University of Ottawa
UW will visit the University of Ottawa before traveling to Toronto. The Ottawa Gee Gees went 15-5 in 2012-13, finishing in a tie for second place in the East Division of the OUA. Ottawa averaged 83.2 points per game, and will return half of the one of the league's top scoring duos in fourth-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel (18.9 ppg).
Aug. 24 – Canadian Junior National Team
The Badgers' first game in Toronto will come against the 2013 Canadian Junior National Team, which is comprised of the country's top prep players. The 2012 team finished third in the FIBA World Championships and was full of Div. I signees like Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Florida State).
Aug. 25 – Ryerson University
The Ryerson Rams went 15-5 last season, finishing third in the OUA, a year after advancing to the Wilson Cup Championship Game in 2012. Led by Canadian National team head coach Roy Rana, the Rams return a pair of OUA All-Stars in Aaron Best (15.3 ppg) and Jahmal Jones (15.4 ppg).
Aug. 26 – A-Game Hoops
A-Game Hoops is a men's select team comprised mainly of Canadians who are playing professionally overseas. A-Game Hoops has played 10 NCAA Division I teams over the last three summers, owning a 6-4 record. That includes win over Tulsa, Austin Peay and the College of Charleston last year.