Fordham head coach Tom Pecora called it "huge."
The Rams are headed to Montreal later this month, where they'll play four games. They are allowed an extra 10 practices before the trip as they continue to prepare for what will be a very important 2014-15 season.
"The games and the trip are important because it's great team-building and all those things," Pecora told Bleacher Report earlier this week. "And you get a little chance for the guys to get used to playing with each other, [especially important] with the number of new bodies we have, [and] also the practices leading up to it."
Fordham players will return to campus next week and resume workouts Tuesday. The Rams will leave for Canada on Aug. 24 and return Aug. 30.
The NCAA allows a team to go on a foreign trip once every four years. This one comes at the perfect time for the Rams, who enter the season with a roster that has undergone a major overhaul.
There are four upperclassmen, one sophomore and six freshmen who will try to lead Fordham to its first winning season since 2006-07.
Playing in the Atlantic 10, it won't be easy. But this trip will give Pecora an opportunity—albeit an early one—to see how his players respond when going head-to-head with competition outside of what they've been seeing since the spring.
"Workouts, open gyms, scrimmages and things like that are one thing," Pecora said, referring to the time the NCAA allots college teams to work out during the offseason. "But you want to see their competitive nature when they go against opponents other than themselves.
"Especially with the young, new guys. It's a great opportunity for them. It's basically a mini-camp."
While in Montreal, Fordham will play Concordia on Aug. 25, Laval on Aug. 26, McGill on Aug. 28 and Brookwood Elite on Aug. 29.
The trip will be a homecoming for freshman Nemanja Zarkovic, who is the early favorite to be Fordham's starting point guard. Zarkovic was born in Serbia but immigrated with his parents to Canada in 1998. He played for Brookwood Elite, the team Fordham will face at Zarkovic's former school, College Jean-De-Brebeuf.
Pecora said that when the Rams return at the end of the month, they'll have a couple of weeks off before getting back together in late September.
It's been a productive offseason at Rose Hill, filled with new arrivals and renewed optimism.
"Our guys have been doing a good job. They've been working hard," Pecora said. "The freshmen have been great."
Fordham has a bit of good fortune on its side with that one as well. It wasn't until 2012 that the NCAA allowed freshmen to get started on campus during the summer leading up to their first year.
With so many freshmen being counted on to produce from the start, the Rams are certainly benefiting from that rule.
"The greatest thing the NCAA did was allow freshmen to come in the summer prior to them starting," Pecora said. "Just for them to get familiar with the area, the campus and the coaches. It makes that transition in September and October so much better for them."
Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.
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