July 28, 2011
WACO, Texas - Loaded with arguably the most talented roster in program history, the Baylor men's basketball team will travel to Toronto, Ontario, for a foreign tour August 11-16 at Ryerson University.
Per NCAA rules, Baylor can conduct 10 practices in preparation for the trip. Institutions are allowed to take one foreign tour every four years and games must be against teams outside the USA. The Bears' last foreign tour was to Cancun, Mexico, prior to the start of the 2007-08 season. That year, Baylor posted a 21-11 record and earned its first NCAA Tournament bid in 20 years.
"Our last foreign tour trip to Cancun offered a great team bonding experience and provided a good jump start to the season," head coach Scott Drew said. "We hope this tour will have the same effect. This tour provides a big advantage because you get to play games against outside competition and are allowed 10 practices leading up to the tour.
"This trip will also give us a feel for our personnel and provide us an opportunity to experiment with different things without costing us any games," Drew said.
The Bears will play three games against outside competition in a four-day stretch. Baylor opens its Canadian tour Friday, August 12, against the Belgium National Team at 4 p.m. CDT. The Bears' second game will be Saturday, August 13, against host Ryerson University at 7:30 p.m. CDT. Baylor is scheduled for a day off from competition Sunday, August 14, for a team trip to Niagara Falls followed by a team-building exercise. The Bears conclude their trip Monday, August 15, against Canada's Senior Men's National Team at 4 p.m. CDT. All three games will be played at Kerr Hall Gymnasium on the Ryerson University campus in Toronto.
"Being ranked in each of the last four years has allowed our program to gain tremendous national exposure, but at the same time, consistent national rankings put a large target on your back each game," Drew said. "This year will be no different and our team will have to learn to play and adapt to the mindset."
"Last year didn't end the way we wanted," Drew said. "With this season's preseason expectations, we are eager to try to have a much different outcome in 2011-12."
After missing the postseason for the first time since 2007, Baylor has since reloaded its roster with the most decorated recruiting class in program history. Despite an 18-13 season that saw LaceDarius Dunn become both the Baylor and Big 12 all-time leading scorer, the Bears are 91-47 in the last four seasons - the best such stretch since making two Final Four appearances in five years from 1945-50.
Led by returning starters A.J. Walton, Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and Perry Jones III, Baylor possesses one of the nation's top frontcourts entering the 2011-12 season. Freshmen Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello complete Baylor's consensus top-20 recruiting class - the fifth such ranking in Drew's nine seasons at Baylor. Other newcomers joining Miller and Bello are National Junior College Player of the Year Pierre Jackson and Division I transfers Brady Heslip (Boston College) and Gary Franklin (Cal). Heslip is currently a member of Canada's Senior Men's National Team training camp roster competing overseas in Europe.
In all, Baylor returns nine letterwinners, including three players - Walton, Acy, A. Jones - that played significant roles during the Bears' 2010 Elite Eight run. Baylor is listed by several national writers as a top-15 team in early preseason top 25 rankings.
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CANADA FOREIGN TOUR SCHEDULE
Aug. 12 vs. Belgium National Team (4 p.m. CDT)
Aug. 13 vs. Ryerson University (7:30 p.m. CDT)
Aug. 15 vs. Canada Senior Men's National Team (4 p.m. CDT)