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Morgan State and Norfolk State prepare for international exhibitions

The Bears and Spartans are getting an early start to their seasons

With the need to replace their top two leading scorers, the season cannot come soon enough for Morgan State. The same could be said for Norfolk State, which is welcoming eight newcomers to its team.

So, both programs will start their seasons early with international exhibition tours.

Norfolk State heads to Costa Rica, while Morgan State flies north to Canada. Both teams will begin exhibition play this weekend.

The Bears’ seven-day trip tips off Aug. 13 and concludes Aug. 20. It will play a total of five games during that time period, with games taking place in both Montreal and Ottawa.

This is not the first foreign tour for Morgan State. Though the NCAA allows schools to participate in foreign travel once every four years, it’s only the basketball program’s sixth such trip since 1974. In prior seasons, visits have included The Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Columbia and Mexico.

Head coach Todd Bozeman is hoping that there is a repeat of the success that followed the last foreign tour. In 2012, the Bears traveled to The Bahamas, and used that as a springboard to a 17-15 season and title game appearance in the MEAC Tournament.

"The tour provides returning players that might not have played a lot, to gain some valuable experience against international competition," the 11th-year coach said in a release. "The tour allows you 10 days to practice, which is invaluable!”

He added: “It's a tremendous opportunity to get started early and exposes the young people to another country and culture."

Norfolk State coach Robert Jones had a similar take in a release from the Spartans’ athletic department.

"We wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity to travel during the summer, especially for this new group," he said. "This team will have several newcomers and returnees who are being thrusted into new roles, and this trip will give the coaching staff a first look at possible combinations and lineups. The competition we will receive in Costa Rica will be second to none."

This is also the Spartans’ first foreign trip since 2012, and theirs will begin Aug. 12 and feature three games, before the team heads home on Aug. 17. Their trip will take them from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, west to Los Suenos, which sits next to the Pacific Ocean.