Having waited the NCAA-mandated four years since its last preseason exhibition tour, the Virginia men's basketball team will get an early start to the season by visiting Montreal in October for three games.

Coach Pete Gillen said the biggest advantage is the 10 extra practices the team will be allowed to hold before the trip. The Cavaliers will start in mid-September, about a month before most other teams.

"We're hoping that this can be a plus for us going into the regular season -- the practices, the games, us getting to know our players better, our new guys and everything else," Gillen said.

The trip, scheduled to coincide with U-Va.'s fall semester break, won't be as long as the six-game excursion the Cavaliers took through Germany, Belgium and France in August 2000. After arriving in Montreal on Oct. 7, they will play the next three days against teams from Concordia University, McGill University and the Royal Military College of Canada. The players will miss one day of classes.

Virginia considered scheduling a trip for May or June, Gillen said, but decided to wait until forward Devin Smith had recovered from back surgery, summer classes had concluded and the team's three freshmen -- point guard Sean Singletary, small forward Adrian Joseph and center Tunji Soroye (Montrose Christian) -- had been with the team for a few months.

-- Jim Reedy