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Hoop dreams

As an early preseason test, the Northeastern men’s basketball team kicks off a weeklong Canadian tour on Friday to face several Canadian university squads in five cities. Such trips, said head coach Bill Coen, offer a unique opportunity for players to spend more time together and become a tighter-knit group.

“They can contribute greatly to team chemistry and the overall bonding of the unit,” Coen explained.

The men’s team is poised to make a serious run in the Colonial Athletic Association this season, with a roster featuring four versatile freshmen and the return of the injured Bulgarian big man. The top-four scoring leaders from last season will anchor the squad: the backcourt duo of Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith, and second-year stars Quincy Ford and Reggie Spencer. Last season, Ford earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie team and the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Freshmen All-America team.

“Our four returning starters will give us some stability,” Coen said, “but really the determining factor in our success will be how quickly our freshman class can develop and contribute.”

The newcomers include Ohio native David Walker, Zach Stahl of Minnesota, and Derrico Peck and Kwesi Abakah, both of whom hail from Georgia.

The Huskies’ frontcourt should improve, owing to the return of 6-foot-11-inch center Dinko Marshavelski, who missed last season with an ACL injury.  Marshavelski, Coen said, has “worked extremely hard to rehab his knee and get into a position to contribute this year.”

Northeastern will kick off the regular season at home on Nov. 9 in a highly anticipated showdown with crosstown rival Boston University. The Huskies defeated the Terriers last year in a season-opening overtime thriller.

“Having that game as the opener the last few years has provided a lot of excitement on both campuses because it’s such a natural rivalry,” Coen said.

The remainder of the nonconference slate includes matchups against UMass, LaSalle, Princeton and Vermont. The Huskies will also participate in the Great Alaska Shootout — one of the nation’s oldest college hoops tournaments — over Thanksgiving break.

GoNU.com will feature complete coverage of each game during the Huskies’ Canadian tour, and fans can get live in-game updates on Twitter by following @GoNUmbasketball.