With only two checkmarks in the win column so far in conference play, the Stingers have one powerful, and detrimental enemy: themselves.
Losing last Friday night 67-75 to UQAM, a team they defeated less than two months ago, Concordia’s unpredictable play was once again the catalyst of an unsuccessful 40 minutes of basketball.
“We need to be more consistent,” said head coach Keith Pruden, a phrase he’s repeated numerous times as of late. “That’s the biggest problem right now.”
In fact, the Stingers’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome was in full effect early, as the team watched an eight-point first quarter lead turn into a four-point deficit heading into halftime.
Concordia had numerous chances to blow-up the scoreboard, yet poor shot choices and a flat-footed defence made that task almost impossible. “We didn’t do anything to stop [UQAM],” Pruden said.
The Citadins penetrated the Stingers’ key easily, and drove to the basket at virtually every opportunity. Pruden explained that his team had worked hard in practice on limiting such dribble penetration, but when game time came, the players didn’t execute.
Forward Melanie Larocque agreed. “It was unorganized both offensively and defensively,” she said. “Basically, they scored at will.”
This was most noticeable during a 10-0 UQAM scoring run that closed out the first half. During this period, Concordia could not buy a basket, and seemed disoriented on both ends of the court.
“We didn’t come to play… UQAM came to play,” Larocque said, describing the team’s overall post-game mood as “angry about the game and how they played.”
Despite these negative feelings, the Stingers did have moments of composed and skillful play. For instance, Concordia scored many points off of precise outside shooting, and utilized their fast breaks effectively as well.
Nonetheless, Larocque explained that instead of building on their early lead, Concordia relaxed and stopped playing. “We should have kept going at them,” she said.
The score remained reasonably close throughout the third and fourth quarters, with both teams exchanging baskets on each consecutive possession. The Stingers found themselves trailing by three baskets with under two minutes to play, but in the end couldn’t claw their way back.
“[Playing] one out of every three minutes is not good enough,” said Pruden, adding that the Quebec league is too closely matched, and composed of too many good teams, to play the way his squad did.
Still, Pruden explained that credit needed to be attributed to UQAM, who were prepared, and played hard. “That reality seemed to overwhelm us a little bit,” he said.
Centre Annie-Pier Gorup explained that her biggest challenge was being physical in the low key area. Gorup’s major role is that of a rebounder, yet UQAM was able to snatch up many offensive boards, thus giving themselves many second and third shot chances.
“We need to keep working hard. We know what we’re capable of,” Gorup said.
Larocque agreed that while the spark is there, the team’s overall unstable play is a cause for concern. “I don’t know what [the cause] is exactly. We’re so up and down, but we’re trying to fix it,” she said.
Still, with their inconsistent play becoming as regular as a Bobby Knight blow-up, what version of this Stingers team will step out onto the floor Friday night against McGill remains uncertain. What is sure, however, is that Concordia needs to regain their balance quickly if the team wants a solid chance at making the playoffs.