NORMAL -- Illinois State's basketball team already knew it was heading south of the border in the 2011-12 season.
The Redbirds are going north, too, before school begins.
ISU coach Tim Jankovich said Tuesday the Redbirds will likely leave on Aug. 8 to play four games in Montreal against college and club teams. The NCAA allows one such foreign trip every four years. Teams can practice 10 days on campus before leaving.
Jankovich is glad the Redbirds saved going on such a trip, especially coming off a 12-19 season and with six newcomers on the roster.
"The games, I don't mean they're not relevant, but the practices and bonding of a team on the trip is why we're doing it," he said. "I don't expect in 10 days of practice to have a team ready to play at a high level in games. That's really not my thoughts.
"My thoughts are to build a base through our practices to give us an opportunity to make September and early October (in individual workouts) more meaningful and advanced than they would be. I think this could be tremendous for our group."
ISU is slated to play in the Cancun Challenge in Mexico before Thanksgiving.
Junior college transfers Tyler Brown and Darious Clark, along with freshmen Nic Moore, Johnny Hill and Nick Zeisloft, will be eligible for the Canada trip after attending summer school at ISU. The other newcomer is 6-10 Jordan Threloff, who redshirted last season as a freshman.
Veterans returning include juniors Trey Blue, Jackie Carmichael, Justin Clark, Anthony Cousin and John Wilkins, and sophomores Jon Ekey and Zeke Upshaw.
"We will not play the games as we would if they were counting games," said Jankovich. "When the game is there we'll all try to win, but we won't substitute it that way, prepare that way or scout the (opposing) team. We'll play the games and learn from that. Mostly it's about practices and having the group together on the road for several days and learning about each other."
ISU's freshmen will arrive on campus Sunday and begin summer school the next day. Brown already is on campus, while Clark will be arriving shortly.
The veterans have been lifting weights and playing pick-up games in a sweaty Redbird Arena. The North Gym at Horton Field House, which is air conditioned, is having a new floor put in after a flood last year warped the old floor. Jankovich believes the North Gym will be ready around July 1.
"The guys who have been here are really working. They're in the gym every day," said Jankovich. "There's a real spirit and commitment to spending time in the gym and getting better and working hard. There's a real determination I'm seeing."
Former ISU player Emmanuel Holloway was on the Redbird Arena floor Tuesday morning playing a one-on-one game with Carmichael. Other ex-Redbirds expected on campus this summer are Osiris Eldridge, Anthony Slack, Boo Richardson, Brandon Sampay and Lloyd Phillips.
The Redbird coaching staff will be on the road much of July. There is a live recruiting period from July 6-15 and 22-31. Right now, ISU has no scholarships available for the 2012-13 class. But things quickly change in college basketball.
"Experience has taught me you never stop recruiting," said Jankovich. "We just always assume we have scholarships. You would rather be prepared than unprepared."
Schedule: Jankovich said the Redbirds are still looking for two more games to fill out the schedule. He said ISU would prefer to have one of those games at Redbird Arena and one on the road.
ISU already has confirmed home games with Lipscomb (probably Nov. 15), Southern Illinois Edwardsville (Nov. 17), North Carolina-Wilmington and Arkansas-Little Rock. The Redbirds are making road trips to Fresno State for the season opener (Nov. 12) and Morehead State as the return game of the 2010 BracketBusters, along with facing Rutgers (Nov. 22) and Illinois or Richmond (Nov. 23) in the Cancun Challenge.