Popovic Named Head Coach of ConU Men’s Basketball
Former Player and Assistant Coach Lands ‘Dream’ Job
The assistant has finally become the master.
Rastko Popovic was announced as the new head coach of the Concordia Stingers’ men’s basketball team at a press conference in the Concordia Gymnasium this morning. The former assistant coach will succeed John Dore who recently retired after a 26-year run as head coach.
“My ultimate goal was always to be a CIS head coach,” Popovic told The Link about leading Concordia in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport league.
“To be able to do it at Concordia, where I’m an alumni, I played here, I had a lot of success as a player on our teams—it’s really a dream come true and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.”
Popovic, 34, was an assistant coach for the men’s team for the past two seasons after seven years as an assistant coach for the women’s team. He also spent five years, from 2001 to 2006, as a player for the Stingers men’s basketball team.
Popovic is the third head coach in the history of Concordia men’s basketball program. He feels his youth and experience will be a benefit for his new position, especially when dealing with his players.
“[I’ll be] able to reach out to them easier because we’re kind of close in age,” he said. “I understand what they’re going through with social media, basketball and everything else. I think we’ve got a lot of points in common, and they’re a very good group, they’re respectful and I look forward to coaching them.”
Popovic also discussed a “12-month program”, which he described as a “more structured summer program” for the players, featuring more off-season workouts and training sessions.
“I think that’s one thing that we needed for sure to be successful,” said Stingers forward Zander Jean. “You need to be playing ball all the time and to keep working at it,”
Jean adds that while Popovic might not be as experienced as other coaches within the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec conference, he will benefit from having learned from his predecessor and former coach, John Dore.
Concordia’s Athletic Director Patrick Boivin commended Popovic’s work ethic and his abilities as a recruiter as reasons for hiring the former assistant coach.
“The process was long and at the end of the day Rastko stood out,” said Boivin.
Popovic is the second head coach Boivin has hired during his tenure as athletic director, and similar to football coach Mickey Donovan, this is the first time Popovic will be head coach.
“I’m a big proponent of giving people their first chance,” Boivin said. “Everyone’s got to start somewhere.”
Newly retired Coach Dore was also content with the hiring of Popovic, whom he’s had as a player and as a member of his coaching staff.
“He’s committed,” he said. “He’s knowledgeable and he’s going to work hard.”