Stingers Men’s Basketball Needs to Buckle Up as Regular Season Approaches
With a Loss to St. Mary’s and a 2-1 Record in Last Tournament, Stingers Look to Improve
The Concordia Stingers surrendered after a tie game against the St. Mary’s Huskies Oct. 19 at home for what marked their eleventh game since the beginning of August, the score ended 92-82.
The Stingers have been competing regularly since early August. The game schedule consisted of a combination of two tournaments, the Concordia Classic tournament and the Carleton University tournament, alongside a handful of NCAA Division I games and non-conference games.
We see this often in sports. The NBA usually holds a four-game preseason schedule. The NFL organizes a full-on four-week schedule before the regular season commences.
Several reasons lie behind playing several games before the regular season starts. They allow teams to compete against a variety of opponents with different styles from various divisions. These games also grant new Stingers the chance to get used to their new team.
This period is the trial and error phase with no actual consequence. It’s an opportunity to impose all the possible expectations that wouldn’t be necessarily achievable during the regular season.
But preseason games can give off flashes of what awaits in the regular season.
In the Stingers men’s basketball team’s case, a few barometers came to the surface to give an insight on what the season may look like.
New faces in the mix
What is unusual about this season is that new additions will have more time to compete on the floor. First-year Samuel Lessard made it clear that he deserves to be earning heavy playing time. He played all preseason games except one and grabbed 12 points and three rebounds in 18 minutes of play on Friday for his team. Lessard understands that despite being new to the team, his input is crucial in order to fill in the gaps if necessary along the road.
“It’s encouraging to see, sometimes you get the opportunity to play and you have to make the best of it,” said the Stingers’ head coach Rastko Popovic.
“It’s hard when you switch levels and you play university level. You’re gonna learn a lot. [Lessard’s] been good with that. You have to be mentally focused all the time. He’ll have a big contribution with us,” he continued.
Second-year players Oge Nwogo, Michel Hakizimana, and Anthony Sonogo are definitely on the lookout as they took advantage of the series of preseason games to get their feet wet. Hakizimana scored 12 points and six rebounds and Sanogo joined him for 11 points and four rebounds Oct 19.
‘We have a good group of guys. Even today we were up and then we went down. It shows they have fight in them,” said Popovic.
Senior Ricardo Monge understands that he and his fellow veterans, Olivier Simon, Cedrik Bryan Coriolan, Adrian Armstrong, and Garry Merisier need to be the rock of the squad. As veterans, they have been with the team for some time and understand what it takes to compete against the rest of their Reseau du sport étudiant du Québec rivals.
“You have to hold them accountable. Everyone had to do things properly. You know how it works, you got to be a leader. We’re progressing slowly,” added Popovic.
Coriolan executed seven rebounds and 14 points and Armstrong scored 11 points and three rebounds Oct. 19.
Merisier added five rebounds and five assists.
Forward Matthis Guerut will be back from injury before the regular season begins. Third-year Sami Ghandour has not been playing since last season’s playoffs as he is recovering from a shoulder injury. He and his teammate, rookie Aleks Simeunovic are set to be joining the Stingers squad sometime in December, if not earlier.
With all of this in mind, it is still quite difficult to predict how the regular season will turn out, as not everything in sports can be predicted.
“We haven’t seen yet what the team will look like. But once the guys are back, we will have a better idea on what it’s gonna look like,” confirmed Popovic.