Men's basketball using Taiwan trip to turn the page
The McMaster men’s basketball program is going global.
For the first time since 1993, the Marauders will compete in an international tournament. Mac will compete in the Buddha Light International Association Cup tournament in Taiwan. The tournament runs August 16-21 and the team will be in Taiwan from August 13-23.
While the early on-court action will pay dividends, head coach Amos Connolly sees a greater benefit.
“This trip to Taiwan will establish this group in and of itself. It will establish some leadership because realistically, for these guys, off the court is going to be surreal,” said Connolly.
With the squad moving on from three seniors in Aaron Repath, Leon Alexander and Troy Joseph, a new core takes the reigns.
Connolly sees the trip as an opportunity for the group to come together over a shared experience that will come with some unique challenges.
Flying to Taiwan is a significant travel commitment. The squad will take a flight to San Francisco and then on to Taiwan.
“I think the fatigue of travel is one challenge. Very few people [on the team] have travelled this kind of distance. We’ve built in a couple of buffer days. The travel fatigue, jet lag, change in time – that’s one. But I think the biggest one for these guys is the diet,” said Connolly.
The team’s meals are provided through the tournament hosts and they will be all vegetarian. That poses some challenges for players to refuel, especially with the tournament happening over five days. Connolly thinks this could bring the team together as they collectively grow beyond their comfort zone.
But make no mistake: there’s an on-court benefit to the trip as well. Mac will bring 13 players on the trip and have a training camp ahead of the tournament to install offences and defences.
“We’ll be doing a training camp prior to going there. That training camp will be our opportunity to install some concepts both offensively and defensively that we’ll want to refine in September rather than intro in September,” said Connolly.
What that will look like remains to be seen. The three seniors who graduated finished in the top three for usage percentage, meaning Connolly and his staff will be making significant changes to the offence.
Mac is the latest in a string of elite CIS programs going overseas for preseason experience. In 2015, Brock went to Sweden to play a handful of games against professional teams and Ottawa traveled to South Korea.
Carleton participated in the 2014 Adidas EuroCamp, competing against 2016 NBA draftees like Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown and Thon Maker.
McMaster was invited to the tournament through the Fo Guang Shan Monastery. The BLIA Cup features eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams. Countries represented include the United States, France, Canada Japan, Malaysia, Korea, the Philippines and China.
The squad will start their CIS season in early October when they host Dalhousie.