Cards to face Alberta Tuesday evening at 6:30
CALGARY – Lamar University will open its three-game foreign basketball tour Tuesday night at 6:30 against the University of Alberta from Jack Simpson Gym in the sixth annual Battle of the Border Tournament.
The Cards will play three straight days, taking on the University of Calgary Wednesday night at 9 and again on Thursday evening at 6:30. Also playing in the six-game, three-day tournament is Middle Tennessee State. The Cardinals are only permitted to play foreign teams as per NCAA rules.
In preparation for the tournament, the Cardinals were permitted 10 days of practice, giving first-year head coach Pat Knight a chance to work with his players earlier than usual. Most of the NCAA’s 345 men’s Division I basketball programs will begin practice Oct. 14.
“This is a chance for us to have some fun and get some good experience,” said Knight. “Several of our guys have probably never been out of t he country, so this will be a chance for them to experience some new things. This is what college athletics are all about.”
Lamar returns 10 letterwinners, including four starters, off of last year’s 13-17 team. While there is a lot of experience returning, Knight and his coaching staff are looking to implement some new offensive and defensive principles.
“Practice has been good,” Knight said. “The guys have done a good job catching on to what we are trying to do. We’ve been cramming a lot of things at them in a short period of time, and really focusing of defense first and then offense.”
Fourth-year guard Anthony Miles leads a group of six seniors who will represent the Cardinals this season. Miles finished second on the team last year in scoring at 11.9 points per game, as well as leading the team with 117 assists.
Leading scorer Mike James also returns for his senior season after posting 12.5 ppg in 2010-11, including setting a school-record with 52 points against Louisiana College.
All 10 of Lamar’s returnees will be on the roster for this week’s action. The only new face will be junior college transfer Nikko Acosta, a 6-foot-8 forward from Gulf Coast Community College who was enrolled in summer school at Lamar.
Alberta finished the 2010-11 season with an 18-11 overall record and a 16-8 mark in Canada West Conference play. The Golden Bears are led by Daniel Ferguson and Jordan Baker who combined for nearly 41 points per game last season.
Calgary, which has victories over Division I teams Weber State and Northern Arizona in the Battle of the Border, finished last season at 8-16 in conference and 10-20 overall.