TU basketball faces unique teams

by Abby Ferguson
Sports Editor

The Transylvania men’s basketball team is stepping it up to prepare for its 2011-2012 season, starting off with some unique opponents.

Transylvania University men's basketball will travel to Canada this weekend in addition to their game against the University of Kentucky. The men will face the same teams UK played last year on its own trip to Canada.

“We felt like this would be a team that would be able to compete within our conference and in that upper level,” said head coach Brian Lane. “When the rankings come out we’ll be one of those upper-ranked teams in the Heartland (Collegiate Athletic) Conference.”

The men first head to Canada over fall break, where they will take on the University of Calgary, the University of Windsor and the University of Western Ontario.

“I think the Canada trip will be crucial to our development because we’re much more experienced than we have been in the last couple years,” Lane said.

With the Canada trip coming so early, the team was given extra practice time to prepare for its contests. This has consisted of two-a-day practices.

“These extra 10 days of practice prior to Canada has really helped us get focused and get a little more comfortable with this team,” said Lane.

Two weeks after these contests they will head down Broadway to Rupp Arena to face the University of Kentucky in an exhibition game Nov. 2.

“The toughest thing about that game will be not getting wrapped up in the extra stuff that’s going on,” said Lane. “We have had several guys that have played in Rupp Arena and have been successful.”

“I never got to play in Rupp in high school like many of my teammates, so I’m going to take full advantage and enjoy every moment I can in preparation for that game,” said senior captain Chris Owens.

Even though they will be playing teams like UK, the men realize the importance of the other opponents they will face.

“The tougher games are the ones where there’s not going to be huge crowds or much media focus,” said Lane. “Yet those games are going to be more important than the Kentucky and the Canada games as we look towards getting more wins during the regular season in conference and a solid out-of-conference schedule.”

Lane recognizes that these early trips will “expose some weaknesses.”

“(But they’ll) give us an opportunity to get out of our comfort level,” Lane said. “These games will put us against the caliber of teams that are really going to push us and make us better. That should hopefully transfer right over to the regular season.”

After facing some of their regular opponents, the men will travel to the D3hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas.  These games will help the team gain experience and give them a little more exposure.

“This tournament will be another opportunity for our team and our school to get our name out on the national stage,” said Owens.

“I felt like we wanted to go and maybe give us a little bit more exposure than we would normally have, on top of the Kentucky game,” said Lane.

One crucial factor to this upcoming season is taking each game as it comes.

“We have to take each opponent, each game and each obstacle one game at a time,” Owens said.  ”You cannot look back, you cannot look ahead; you have to focus on that upcoming game, and all of the motivation comes from within each member of the team.”

With this unique schedule, the team is starting anew and is going back to the basics.

“This year Coach wants to take full advantage of the extra time we were allowed,” said Owens. “With that said, we are starting from scratch and trying to master the fundamentals of the game. … When future players come to play here in Lexington, we want them to look up at the banners and remember the team from 2012.”

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