Concordia 75, Laval 67 (OT): Stingers Rookie Samuel Lessard Makes Debut in Win

Stingers Come Up Big in Overtime to Steal Victory

The Stingers men’s basketball team stole the show in an overtime win over the Laval Rouge et Or. Photo Elisa Barbier

Thursday night marked the regular season home opener for the Stingers men’s basketball team. They took on the Laval Rouge et Or on a bumpy ride filled with peaks and valleys.

The Rouge et Or forced the Stingers to embark into an overtime period after they were up by 15 points. Veteran Cedric Bryan Coriolan demonstrated a sharp initiative to turn things around by grace.

“I [made] a lot of turnovers in the fourth quarter that could have cost us the game. The guys told me to step it up so I took it as a personal goal, offensively and defensively,” said Coriolan.

He scored seven points, eight rebounds, and five assists with five turnovers.

“Basketball is a game where you can make a lot of mistakes. You can feel sorry or you can do something in the next possession,” said the Stingers’ head coach Rastko Popovic.

The Rouge et Or’s Nicolas Begin was unmatched as he grabbed 21 points and five solid rebounds for the visiting team.

During the forty minute race to the net, the Stingers made sure they had something to offer to every basketball guru that purchased a ticket to the game on Thursday.

Third-year Stinger Olivier Simon claimed an impressive 19 points and 11 rebounds while senior and all-star Ricardo Monge put up 16 points and eight rebounds in the game.

A special debut

In spite of the overtime period, which was a head-turner for many, the regular season opener was a special night for someone. It was rookie forward Samuel Lessard’s debut in his university hoops career.

Lessard was drafted from a Division two team when he was playing with the Nomads of Montmorency Cegep. During preseason and exhibition games, Lessard stood out. The urge of the freshman to learn and be part of the show was hard to miss.

It was a special night for rookie forward Samuel Lessard who made his regular season debut with the team. Photo Elisa Barbier
“A lot of our guys that are really good didn’t play at all during their first year. But you can see with Samuel today that he was nervous,” said Popovic.

He believes that for the advancement of the team as a unit, it’s important for them to watch and learn first.

But Samuel was an exception, in that he was one of the few rookies that played during their first night with the team—a night he will never forget.

In his first regular season game, the freshman played a total of 13 minutes and executed a rebound. He appeared to be nervous, a bit hesitant, but all for a good cause.

By the end of the third quarter, he intended to shoot but missed his shot at the buzzer beater.

Importance of the support of fellow teammates

Lessard’s teammates and fellow vets showed nothing but courtesy and empathy towards their newest teammate.

At the end of the third quarter, when Lessard left the floor and joined the rest of his teammates, dripping in sweat and nervousness, Simon and Coriolan approached him to talk to him and pat him on the shoulder for his relentless efforts. They also wanted to give him necessary guidance to learn from his mistakes on the court.

“We see him always working out. He’s always asking to watch the tapes and asks the coach to do extra work. I think he will be one of the most serious guys in the upcoming years,” said Simon.

“I am considered as one of the leaders amongst our team,” said Coriolan. “One of those that talks the most with the new players. Samuel has a rare chance of playing as a rookie. We need to be patient with him. He needed someone to be patient with him, to talk to him in a friendly way.”

In any sport, some rookies have nice debuts, and some don’t. Questions often arise as if that would be of any indication or perhaps to question the talent of the rookie. Sometimes that is true, but other times, no concern should be taken. It’s still the first impression they give off to the fans but it can also be their first step as they embark on a sharp ladder [possibly] towards the top.

Simon thinks that if Lessard continues to make the same mistakes by the end of the season, then there will be an issue, but he is not worried about him.

“We have a long season and we practice every day. Season games are very different than the other games. We know what every team is doing and they know what we are doing as well. He’s gonna store the good and let go of the bad. I think he’s in a learning phase right now”

As for the man himself, Lessard was disappointed in his decision making during the game. The rookie thought that he wasn’t patient enough.

“We had the time to create affinity within one another during the preseason games. I was always present and therefore it has allowed me to merge within the team and get to know my teammates,” said Lessard when asked about his assimilation within the team.

“He had 13 minutes of learning in a league game today,” said Popovic.