Ottawa 72, Concordia 53: Stingers Men’s Basketball Fall to Non-Conference Opponents
Despite Fourth Quarter Push, Concordia Runs Out of Steam
With identical three loss and two win records so far, both Concordia and the University of Ottawa came into the dome hoping for a win to go .500 in the preseason.
The Stingers had shown flashes of their potential throughout the preseason, but struggled to put together consistent performances.
The game looked within reach for the Stingers for most of the first half. Despite a rocky start, Concordia quickly rallied from an early 7-0 deficit.
Senior Point Guard Cedrick Coriolan opened the scoring for Concordia with a three-pointer. On the next possession, he stopped on a dime to lose the defender on his hip and drain a pull up mid-range jumper, sparking a 10-3 run to bring the team back level.
Throughout the game, Coriolan was active not just with his hands—swiping a team high four steals to go along with six points—but also with his voice, bellowing instructions and encouragement to teammates.
With over half of the team being rookies and sophomores, the Stingers are still in the process of figuring out their identity and leaders like Coriolan are essential to that development.
“Obviously we have a lot of rookies, a lot of new guys, so I think we just haven’t found a way to play with each other and I think it starts in practice,” Coriolan said.
After hustle plays from fourth year Forward Sami Ghandour (eight points, 2-4 from three) on defense: first taking a charge, and then forcing a jump ball, Concordia built a two point lead. At this point in the game, cracks began to appear in the team’s armour.
“The two main things, turnovers and rebounding, were not very good today… I think we did some good stuff on defence, but our turnovers were just too costly,” Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic said.
Despite both teams shooting poorly in the first half, the Gee-Gees were able to create extra possessions with their rebounding, securing 42 boards to Concordia’s 21 throughout the game. At the end of the half ,Ottawa had run off to an eight point 32-24 lead.
After the half, those cracks in the armour turned into gaping holes.
The Stingers wasted multiple possessions on offense with back to back plays where players caught the ball out of bounds, unnecessary offensive fouls, and poor shot selection.
On defense, the team failed to rotate properly and left opponents wide open. Concordia struggled to contain Ottawa Guard, Guillame Pépin who clearly felt at home in his native Montreal.
There are still positives to take away from the game, which came in the fourth quarter. Coach Popovic’s team showed a fighting spirit adding “when they went up 22 or whatever it was, we didn’t quit” he said.
Rookie Guard Sami Jahan, who struggled for most of the game, scored eight of his 10 points in the frame.
“It was just a mental thing to keep pushing to the very end regardless of the result of the game…we were just playing mostly for pride,” Jahan said.
Jahan has impressed as a rookie so far, showing prowess as a scorer in the pick and roll.
“[Jahan] is a rookie so I think you can expect there’s going to be some ups and downs. He’s shown some good flashes this preseason. I think he’s going to be a good player at this level,” Coach
“It means a lot because in U Sports, rookies don’t get a lot of playing time and usually don’t have a big role. Coach gave me a decent role and I just take advantage,” Jahan said.
Forward Olivier Simon also put on a show in the fourth quarter, scoring all 11 of his points. Simon was a physical presence inside, gaining position and posting up early in the shot clock and forcing Ottawa’s bigs to foul.
As they look forward to two games on the road next weekend and a lengthy pre-season schedule, the Stingers hope some off-court bonding can lead to better cohesion on the floor.
“Going on the road together, sometimes that helps. Being in a hotel room together, guys can bond and spend some time together, learn more about one another,” Coach Popovic said.
“These are preseason and non-conference games; we’re trying to get ready [and] get better for the regular season. So our goal next weekend is to be better than we were this past weekend,” he added.
The Stingers go on the road next weekend to face non-conference opponents Guelph and Ontario Tech.