Women heading into season ranked fourth in the country
The Concordia Stingers basketball team heads into the 2018-19 season with renewed confidence after going 9-1 in the preseason. U Sports also ranked them fourth in the top-10 ranking in the country on Oct. 30.
Playing against some serious competition from all conferences in Canada, the Stingers played well in the exhibition games and tournaments, winning the Concordia Classic tournament held Oct. 5 to 7.
Coming off a 4-12 2017-18 season, and having a record below .500 for the fourth consecutive season, head coach Tenicha Gittens believes the only way is up. With the addition of new recruits and the return of some veterans, this is a combination Gittens is confident about.
“As tough as our conference is, I have a lot of faith and trust in our girls and our coaching staff,” Gittens said. “They have the right focus and mentality.”
This season, the Stingers will see a number of new recruits from across North America, with coach Gittens praising them all. Nelly Owusu of Dawson College, Areej Burgonio of Crestwood Preparatory College in Toronto, Natalie Rae Jeanson of Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ont., and Myriam Leclerc of Cégep Ste-Foy in Quebec City are the team’s new guards. Forwards Gretna-Olivia Inez of Champlain College and Ariel White Gill Bernards High School in New Jersey are also two new recruits.
“Bringing in the six new players, so far it’s worked out for us,” Gittens said. “It’s a testament of the work they put in during the offseason. They’ve been playing very well together, and they practice hard.”
Guard Caroline Task returns to the Stingers for her third year. She looks to build on her 15.2 points per game (PPG), which placed her at second in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) last season.
Forward Coralie Dumont debuts her second year with the Stingers and is looking to play as a force to be reckoned with after her outstanding rookie season. She had 11.1 PPG with an average of seven rebounds per game, and a field-goal percentage of 39.8, 10th in the RSEQ.
Along with Task and Dumont, Elise Roy, Sabrina Linéus, Aurélie d’Anjou Drouin, and Ladonna Lamonth are back with the team from last year’s roster.
“I still believe our conference is the strongest in the country,” Gittens said. “We’ve got to bring it every game. They’ll be prepared to go out there and execute and give themselves an opportunity to get a [a win] to reach our bigger picture.”
The Stingers women’s team is looking to win the first RSEQ title at Concordia since 1999.
The Concordia Stingers basketball team is looking to keep the momentum from last year going in the 2018-19 season. The team seeks to make the RSEQ final for a second year in a row, and win it this time.
The preseason shed some light on some weaknesses for the men’s team, as they went 6-6 overall, but mainly against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams and Canadian teams from coast to coast.
“We played a lot of games and a lot of guys stepped up while others struggled, but that’s the whole point of preseason,” said head coach Rastko Popovic. “[We had] a couple of decent wins, some losses we’d like to have back that were close, but the goal was to play good teams. These were the country’s top 10 teams.”
The Stingers ended last season with an 11-5 record en route to the playoffs, where they lost in the RSEQ final to the McGill Redmen. The men’s team have made the playoffs for eight years in a row, winning two RSEQ championships in 2011 and 2012.
There are six new players with the Stingers this season: Tariq Barki-Hamad of Central Tech High School in Toronto, Akim Olak from the London Basketball Academy, Maxime Bellony from Cégep de Thetford, Samuel Lessard from Collège Montmorency, Aleks Simeunovic from Impact Academy prep school, and Nathaniel Boisvert from Champlain College, Lennoxville.
Although last year’s top scorer, forward Ken Beaulieu, has graduated, guard Ricardo Monge enters his fifth and final year looking to carry momentum from last season. He averaged 11 PPG, with a 33.8 three-point percentage, and a league-leading 89.2 per cent from the free-throw line in the 2017-18 season.
Guard Garry Merisier is also entering his fifth and final year, while Adrian Armstrong and Cedrick Coriolan return for their fourth year on the team.
The new recruits and veterans are among the 16 on the initial roster for the season, which is likely set to change as the regular season progresses.
“Regular season is a different beast. Preseason is good to prepare and do stuff but now it’s real games that count,” Popovic said. “[We’re] looking forward to getting off to a good start.”
The season starts with a doubleheader on Nov. 8 at the Concordia gym. The women’s team plays at 6 p.m. and the men’s team at 8 p.m., both against the Université de Laval Rouge et Or.
Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.