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Early Work Should Pay Dividends Later

Bridgewater forward Mark James makes a pass during practice

BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Practicing in August certainly isn't the norm for the Bridgewater College men's basketball team. This year, however, an upcoming preseason tour to Costa Rica gives the Eagles the opportunity to work out as a team for 10 days prior to the trip.

"It's a little crazy coming back here this early for practice," said Eagles' junior guard TJ Turner. "This definitely gets us out of our comfort zone a little bit, but this time together is going to be good for all of us. The practices have been pretty good. Considering that we haven't been together for several months, I think we're looking pretty good as a team."

Ten returning players are on campus preparing for the upcoming trip. "Getting our 10 returning guys back for a few days of practice in August and then putting them in a competitive environment gives you the chance to see how much they have worked on their games during the summer," head coach Shawn Postiglione said. "Plus, the opportunities for team bonding and team building during this time will be very valuable for this group as they prepare for the upcoming season."

Despite the fact 10 players return for the upcoming season, this year's squad is still relatively inexperienced with no seniors on the roster.

"We're still going to be a pretty young group," forward Monte Simpkins said. "I think this extra time we have together can really help us. We've got the chance to get closer as a team and get a head start on building on the things we accomplished last year."

One of those accomplishments was a winning 14-12 overall record, a step forward for the program.

"Considering where we were my freshman year, 14-12 was a pretty good season," Turner said. "Now, we want to take it to another level."

While the daily practices may have the Eagles peeking ahead to the upcoming season, the players are anxiously eyeing the fast-approaching trip to Costa Rica.

"I've never been out of the country," Simpkins said. "I'm really excited to experience the culture of a new country. I know we're going to have the chance to do some community service while we're there and that's exciting for me personally. I do a lot of volunteer work, but to have the chance to help others in another country…I'm looking forward to that. This is just a great opportunity for all of us."

Turner admits he knows very little about Costa Rica. "I've looked at the itinerary and I've checked some things out online, but I'm just going to take things as they come and try to soak it all in. It's going to be a lot of fun."

The team arrives in Costa Rica on August 15 for its eight-day tour. Fans of the team can follow the Eagles on twitter to check in on their exploits while in Costa Rica. Team members will also be writing a blog while in Costa Rica that will be featured on