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CHARLOTTESVILLEThe Virginia men’s basketball team is scheduled to play three exhibition games in Montreal this weekend (Aug. 30-31). The Cavaliers leave for Canada on Friday (Aug. 29) and play two games on Saturday (Aug. 30). Virginia plays one game on Sunday (Aug. 31) before returning home that day.

“We are looking to see where we are and where we need to get better,” Virginia head coach Dave Leitao said. “We have a young team with three freshmen and a number of players who haven’t played quality minutes or are coming back from injury. They need to get a look and gain a feel for what we’re trying to do. Perhaps most importantly we need to change our personality as a team as we look toward October and preseason practice.”

UVa is scheduled to play St. Lawrence University at 10 a.m. and Concordia University at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be played at Concordia. The Cavaliers are scheduled to play at McGill University on Sunday (Aug. 31) at 9:15 a.m.

“I think both the practices in preparation for the trip and the games we will play are important, but I think the practices are supremely important,” Leitao said. “There are roles that we want to try and define, who’s going to play this position or that position. I don’t think we’ll answer all of those questions, but we’ll start to take a real hard look at what that’s going to look like.

“The practice sessions have been good. I don’t have a problem at all with how hard they’ve worked with what we’ve asked them to do. I think it’s been a little slow transitioning ourselves mentally to injecting one’s personality or personalities on this team so we start to look drastically different than we did last year because we are different.”

Virginia is allowed 10 practices before leaving on the trip and the Cavaliers began preparations on Aug. 19. UVa’s three first-year players John Brandenburg, Sylven Landesberg and Assane Sene can play in the games, but didn’t begin practicing with the team in preparation for the trip until classes began at Virginia on Tuesday (Aug. 26).

“They’ll have a great opportunity and we’ll throw them in there,” Leitao said. “Because they weren’t here last year and they missed several days of practice, they’re behind a little which is to be expected. We’ll try to do a good job of getting them caught up, but they won’t be completely caught up from a cardio standpoint or a knowledge standpoint. We’ll just throw them in the water and see if they can swim.”

Virginia senior Mamadi Diane is injured and will not play in the games.

“I’d like for Mamadi to be playing, but in terms of being here for three years and playing so many minutes each of those seasons, we have an expectation of what he has brought and can bring to the team,” Leitao said. “Obviously I want him to expand on that this season. At the same point and time, the rest of the guys who get the minutes on this trip that he normally plays will use them in a valuable way to gain experience.”

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