Rising to the Occasion
‘The Best Point Guard in the Conference’ Has Stingers Back in the Playoff Race
A 6-foot-tall point guard, the Stingers’ Adam Chmielewski was overshadowed in more ways than one last season by teammates Kyle Desmarais and Evens Laroche.
Standing at 6-2 and 6-4, respectively, Desmarais and Laroche didn’t only overshadow Chmielewski physically—they were also All-Canadians, the faces of Concordia’s men’s basketball team. Each finished with a team-high 15 points per game. Chmielewski, despite leading the team in minutes played, averaged just 9.2.
One year later, there is no more Desmarais and Laroche, who both left at the end of last season. The new face of the Stingers is that of Chmielewski’s, who currently leads the team not only in minutes played, but also in averaged points per game, free throws scored and steals.
It has all helped see the Stingers bounce back from a terrible 0-3 start to the season to get back in the playoff race as they now sit in third place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec conference with a 6-4 record.
But with a bigger role come bigger responsibilities in the less tangible side of the game for Chmielewski.
“More is asked from me in terms of leadership,” he said.
“I have to always be focused, to make sure other guys are focused.”
Entering Saturday’s game, Chmielewski was the only player in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport to average 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. His play has drawn great praise from his coaches.
“He’s a Division I talent and he’s showing it this year,” said Stingers assistant coach Rastko Popovic.
“The potential was always there, and [his] confidence and belief are there now. [Adam] has been tremendous on and off the floor for our team.”
Stingers head coach John Dore took his praise one step further.
“To me, he’s the best point guard in the conference,” said Dore.
“He’s having a really good year. He plays hard; he’s playing smarter.
“As Adam goes, the team goes. He makes our guys that much better,” he continued.
A Montreal native, Chmielewski played three seasons at Champlain College Saint-Lambert before heading to St. Francis College in Brooklyn for a season, taking on the likes of Boston College, Davidson College and the University of South Florida in 2010-2011. Chmielewski averaged 2.2 points a game and 12.7 minutes a game as a reserve in his one year at St. Francis.
“The competition was tough and highly physical,” said Chmielewski.
“It definitely helped to play in the States in terms of playing with high intensity.”
While Chmielewski added that he enjoyed the numerous trips, including playing at Madison Square Garden, he says personal reasons, notably his studies, were what brought him back to Montreal.
“I wasn’t sure what I was studying [at St. Francis],” Chmielewski said.
“I really went there for basketball. I found what I needed to study [at Concordia].”
Chmielewski took up a degree in economics at Concordia and joined the basketball team in 2012, where he came across a former rival and Champlain College teammate in now fifth-year guard Jean-André Moussignac.
The two had played against each other for years before becoming teammates at Champlain, where they both competed for starting spots at guard.
“I always liked playing against him, it was kind of hard to not be able to compete against him,” said Moussignac.
Playing with and against Chmielewski for as long as he has, Moussignac has gotten a feel for what type of player Chmielewski is on the court.
“He’s a competitor,” Moussignac said.
“He tries to do the right thing and tries to compete all the time, but sometimes he just worries so much about everything that he takes himself out of the game.
“All in all, he’s a good basketball player,” Moussignac continued.
“He just has to stay focused and not overreact.”
Off the court, Chmielewski’s seriousness transcends the hardwood and spills into his studies, but it doesn’t take away from his everyday personality.
“He’s a serious student,” said Dore.
“[But] he’s a good guy off the court; no problems, well-[maintained]. He’s a pleasure to be around.”
“It’s kind of hard to separate ‘Basketball Adam’ and ‘Life Adam’,” Moussignac said.
“As we’re growing older, we have more passion for the game. It’s kind of hard to separate both of them.”
Chmielewski will graduate this spring but hasn’t decided on whether he will return to the team for next season, as he still has two years of eligibility. With his degree, Chmielewski has expressed an interest in the field of economics and says he’d like to work in a bank.
“I like economics because I’m good at it, in some ways, and it’s really interesting,” Chmielewski said.
“I just like that economics influences everything in society, money, circulation and banks.”
For now, however, it’s Chmielewski who’s doing the influencing.
“I’m just trying to be more assertive [on the court] and [become] a better leader,” he said.
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