The season gets off to an early start for the Voyageurs Men’s Basketball team as the squad will be heading to San Jose, Costa Rica in early August for a quartet of exhibition games against a trio of NCAA Division I opponents.
Head Coach Shawn Swords is looking forward to the experience and competition equally, saying, “This is a great opportunity to get the team together early and put in lots of time practicing. The major benefit will be the amount of practice time we can learn and compete against each other. Being able to travel and challenge ourselves against NCAA teams is just gravy. The teams we are playing will be bigger, stronger and more athletic. We will be forced to compete at a high level each game.”
The tour begins on August 5th when the Voyageurs tip-off against the University of Montana Grizzlies. The Grizzlies bowed out in the quarterfinal of the Big Sky Conference tournament last season to the University of Idaho Vandals. After graduating five seniors last season, the Grizzlies will be a young team, with just one upperclassman on the roster but field a big roster, with an average height over 6’5” and average weight of almost 200 pounds.
The Voyageurs will hit the court again three days later when they face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on August 8th. The Hilltoppers had a tough year last season, finishing with a 15-17 record before bowing out to the University of Texas at San Antonio in the first round of the Conference USA tournament. The Hilltoppers will also be fielding a young squad after graduating five seniors last year but their recruiting class features a McDonald’s All-American in Mitchell Robinson, the first in their program’s history.
The Voyageurs will face the Hilltoppers on August 10th as well, before wrapping up the trip with a date against the Kent State Golden Flashes on August 12th. The Golden Flashes are coming off a Mid-American Conference title, their sixth in program history, and a trip the NCAA Tournament, where they bowed out in the first round to UCLA. The Golden Flashes will be fielding a relatively experienced squad in San Jose after losing just three players to graduation.
Coach Swords is looking for the team to carry the momentum from this unique opportunity into training camp and beyond.
“It will advance our season ahead a month and will give us an earlier idea of what we will need to improve upon as we get into the OUA season. The team building aspect is something we pride ourselves on as well. Being in a new country with new challenges on and off the court will enable us to learn and grow together as a group.”
The full schedule for the Voyageurs is below.
August 5th vs Montana Grizzlies @ 8pm EDT
August 8th vs WKU Hilltoppers @ 7pm EDT
August 10th vs WKU Hilltoppers @ 6pm EDT
August 12th vs Kent St. Golden Flashes @ 6pm EDT