There is not one returning Stinger who hasn’t thought about last year: the lows, the highs, what was and what could have been.
The off-season was filled with daily jogging, lifting weights and reliving not the final championship game against Laval, but Game Two, where the team was in a position to win it all, and dropped the game in the final minutes.
“Game Two of that final was ours to win,” assistant coach Ernie Rosa said in an interview last spring.
Rosa returns again this year as assistant to Coach John Dore, as the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team prepares for another run at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Conference Championship.
Sophomore forward Patrick Perrotte spent the summer going over his first season in his head. “I took the time to think about the positive and the mistakes,” he said. “Last season I came into training camp at 235 pounds, out of shape physically and mentally. This year it is just the opposite. I am in better shape, I understand the game more and I understand the role of my coach.”
Over the summer several of the players put themselves through a rigorous training regime. “They ran, hit the weights and spent a lot of time together,” Dore said. “The attitude of this team is great. We are ahead of last year’s cardio conditioning and endurance and we are ahead experience wise.”
“We told our players what we expected over the summer and it was up to them,” Rosa said.
However not all of last year’s eligible players will be back. Dilip “Diesel” Nayar, a big six-foot-eight, 255 pounder will not be returning, which could reduce the inside game. Gavin Musgrave, Kurt McAlpine, Frederic Gagnon, James Aubourg and Jason Pace will not be returning.
Although, also with Perrotte, centre and forward Dan Lacasse is returning. He has added some weight to his six-foot-ten frame and after last year’s experience is expected to play longer and contribute more. The inside game is his to take.
Rastko Popovic, who really came on strong at the end of last season, took over 500 three-point shots a day. Louis Vigneault and Andrew Kanho, will continue their versatile roles this year and Johnathan Dresner will continue in the three spot.
Point-guard Philippe Langlois has also spent the summer getting in shape and is expected to run the offence.
In from Lennoxville is Chris Blackwood to assume the one, two and three position. American Donald Corkhum from Tuber Academy stands at six-foot-five and will add some snap on the rebounds. Benjamin Sormonte, a six-foot-two guard from South Alabama, will sit out the first half of the season and is expected to bring his shooting skills to the court in January.
“We are down to 13 players right now,” Dore said. “The roster is not ready yet.”
Perrotte likes the way the team is shaping up. “With the new players and the nucleus of last year’s players we have begun to reach for what we let slip between our fingers last year.”
“Our goal is to finish first, win the championship and go to the Nationals,” he said. “I would like to have our team experience playing in front of 10,000 people. It is really special.”