A warning to the Quebec University Basketball League: the first-place Concordia Stingers have yet to play their best basketball this season. At least that’s what the Stingers themselves were suggesting after a lackluster 78-69 win over Bishop’s last Saturday.
The win keeps the Stingers unbeaten in conference play at 5-0, with the holiday break now in effect. Despite the perfect record though, Concordia has been anything but.
“We haven’t been able to put together a full 40 minutes,” says head coach John Dore, “and that’s a concern, not just for me, but for the whole team. Ask them. You don’t need to hear it from me.”
Very well coach.
“We’re 5-0, and we’ll take it. But we know we’re better than this,” says fifth-year senior Patrick Perrotte. “It’s important to use these first few games to send a message to the rest of the league that we’re a tough team to beat, and right now I don’t think we’re doing that.”
It’s tough to say what exactly is wrong with a team that has won its five regular-season games by an average of 18.2 points, but one theory suggests that the Stingers have lacked consistency.
“We’ll have a very strong 10-minute stretch, and then we’ll sit back for the next 10 minutes,” Dore says.
Case in point, Saturday’s win against Bishop’s in which a 16-point Stinger lead was reduced to just four points late in the second half.
“A win is a win,” says forward Dwayne Buckley. “We can play better though, and after the [December 27-29] tournament in Victoria, hopefully we’ll be able to show that.”
Buckley emphasized the competition at the holiday tournament where the Stingers could potentially face two of the country’s top ranked teams in no. 2 British Columbia and fourth-ranked Victoria. Sixth-ranked Concordia is the only Quebec representation in the top-10.
Second-year guards Damian Buckley and Pierre Thompson are still adjusting to the added responsibilities they’ve taken on this year.
Buckley has seen his scoring numbers drop this year, placing greater emphasis instead on stronger defence and finding his teammates for open shots. It’s hard to downplay his significance to the team though; his five assists per game are a conference best, while his 14.8 points per game rank third within the Stingers.
Thompson meantime has seen his playing time increase, but he has also shown a greater tendency to turn the ball over, and commit fouls away from the basket.
With eight new bodies this season (only five players returned from last year), a collective period of adjustment was to be expected.
Given the changes this team has made, the fact the Stingers have beaten every conference opponent, and that they remain undefeated in regular season play should bode well as the team continues to gel.