News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Alabama basketball visiting Canada
Tide to play four exhibition games

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Richard Hendrix is not a hockey fan. And neither is Rico Pickett. When you ask the Alabama basketball standouts about their first thoughts of sports Canada, they both name Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, a native of British Columbia.

Said Pickett, a Decatur High grad: “I believe they live like we do, but just in a different country.”

The Crimson Tide will travel to Canada for three days of scrimmages with Canadian collegiate teams during the Labor Day weekend. The NCAA allows schools to go on international trips once every four years. In 2003, Alabama went to the Bahamas.

Last season, the Tide played in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but no passports are needed for visitors from the United States.

Some schools go before classes start, but NCAA rules prohibit freshmen from joining the teams during that time.

Alabama coach Mark Gottfried wants the team’s freshmen to go, hence the whirlwind trip.

That means Pickett, a first-year player, gets to go.

This is Pickett’s first voyage outside the country. A few weeks ago, he got his passport. There were several days where he had to get up early to fill out paperwork, changing his official address and getting a new driver license.

“I feel more grown up, but I don’t think too much of it,” Pickett said. “I never thought my first international trip would be somewhere like that. Maybe Mexico or some place like that.”

Pickett once went to a camp in New Jersey. Until next week, that’s the farthest north he has traveled. While Hendrix, an Athens High graduate with two years of collegiate basketball experience under his belt, has been to Colorado.

Hendrix said he is looking at the trip as a chance for the Tide to start implementing its offensive and defensive schemes. It is an opportunity to put last season’s disappointing 20-12 year behind them.

“Going to Canada is a plus, but it is also a business trip,” Hendrix said.

“It gives you the opportunity to see what you need to work on before practice starts. So that is a good opportunity, so hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

Alabama will play four exhibition games within three days in Ottawa.

The Tide will play two games Saturday with an 11 a.m. game against McGill University and a 7 p.m. game against the University of Ottawa.

The third game will be Sunday at 6 p.m. against Carleton University.

The Tide plays its fourth and final game Monday against Ottawa at 11 a.m.

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