This is PART 2 of a series on the Beakats international trip to Costa Rica

By Jeremy Villanueva //

Sam Houston State men’s basketball doesn’t open its season until November 12 against LeTourneau at home.

However, the Bearkats already have two games and 10 practices under their belts.

While in Costa Rica this past August, the Kats were able to play two exhibition games against the University of Ottawa and the Costa Rica National Team.

“It [gave] us a little bit of a head start on chemistry,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “We got to put the guys in there and also see those four new guys establishing themselves with our program. It gives them all some confidence to go play.”

Sam Houston first notched a 92-76 win over the Canadian team on the first day. The exhibitions were played per the FIBA rules, and the teams used the same ball that was used in the Olympics.

Before the game began, the Ottawa head coach told Hooten that the team had did a full scouting report on the Kats; something the Kats hadn’t done.

“First play we threw it to Aurimus Majauskas and they triple teamed him,” Hooten said. “They did a great job for preparing for our team. It was hard for us because we didn’t know whom we were playing. We were more concerned about ourselves and didn’t have to worry about others.”

Hooten rotated 16 players in the game, splitting the squad in three different lineups and subbing them in-and-out every three to four minutes. Transfers Marcus Harris, John Dewey Jr., Phillip Jones Jr. and sophomore Cameron Delaney got to see their first times in action as Kats.

“We were able to incorporate the new guys into the defense and offense,” Hooten said. “[The exhibition] also gave the returning guys a chance to get the new guys out on the court with them. We kept mixing the groups up.”

Hooten also got to see the return of Paul Baxter, who was forced to sideline what would have been his senior season last year due to an injury.

“It was good to have a Paul back on the floor,” Hooten said. “It was good to see him get back in a routine and get some of the rust off. It gives him a confidence.”

The Kats continued their winning ways against the Costa Rican National Team. After a close first quarter, SHSU took off to win the game 84-46.

“I think maybe one of the most exciting things is our depth,” Hooten said. “As of right now, I think our depth is the strength of our team. The lineups we can bring. I feel we can play small. We can play big. We can play fast. Those are all things I was excited about seeing.”

The early practices, exhibitions and trip are something a team can do once every four years, according to the NCAA rules. Hooten said it was the first time SHSU had done it, and also the first time he has ever done it.

“The greatest thing about the trip itself is the NCAA gives you ten days to practice before the game,” Hooten said. “Those 10 days give you a chance to put stuff in. It gives you a chance to play before we head out.”