If winning builds confidence and lifts team morale, what good can possibly come out of losing? According to the Stingers, more good than you would think.
As a tired and beaten Concordia team returned home last Sunday following the second leg of their seven-game U.S. tour, the Stingers had zero wins to show for their effort.
Still they say, they are a better basketball team than the one that left for Rhode Island Halloween night.
“We were playing at that next level where the bar is set higher, so we had to lift our game,” Dwayne Buckley said after the first leg of the trip. “We were able to do that and now the important thing is to keep our game at that high level when we get home. There’s no reason to bring it back down.”
Should the Stingers succeed at maintaining the level of competition they displayed in the U.S., it could be a long season for Concordia’s Quebec-based competition. While Laval dropped a 101-92 decision to Providence, and UQAM and McGill were blown out by Maine and Manhattan respectively, Concordia played seven American schools, more than any other team in Canada.
“We do this for the kids,” said head coach John Dore. “For them to come back home after having played at a Duke or at a Connecticut should give them an edge down the line.”
“Obviously you try to win every game that you play, but I think we learned a lot from these games and that we can only benefit from them,” said Dore.
First in line to reap the benefits are Concordia’s post players who for the most part, found themselves under-sized against the U.S. schools. Having boxed-out and played man-to-man defense against bigger players, the Stingers have made their job of doing the same against opponents they actually match up with physically, that much easier.
“My body is covered with bruises from playing with the [American] big-men,” said six-foot-ten centre Ben McCarthy.
“If we can bring that intensity back home, I have no doubt that we’ll play well. This certainly says something about baptism by fire, he continued”
When Concordia faced the University of Georgia earlier this month, they featured five players of at least six-foot-nine. McGill has one such forward, while the tallest players at Laval and Bishop’s are listed at six-foot-eight.
If McCarthy, Jamal Gallier, Patrick Perrotte and the rest of the Stingers could out-rebound the Bulldogs (which they did, by a 45-42 margin), there’s no telling how much damage the Stingers could get done in conference play.
Also benefiting are Concordia’s freshmen, who will likely never face tougher competition during their careers as Stingers, than top-ranked Duke and number two Connecticut. Damian Buckley started all seven games in the U.S. at the all-important point guard position, and averaged 10.2 points per game, which speaks volumes of his potential.
And after visiting unfamiliar arenas with some of the country’s most hostile crowds, road trips to Lennoxville and Quebec City suddenly seem tame.
The Stingers may have returned home with seven more losses than they left with, but they also return to Quebec with an anxiety to begin conference play. Having played the best, the Stingers are confident that they have bettered themselves. Concordia’s ability to overcome physical and mental challenges during the U.S. tour could prove beneficial not just during conference play, but perhaps even beyond.