The value of versatility

Ken Beaulieu
Ken Beaulieu is in his fourth and final season as a member of the Concordia Stingers. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Graduating forward Ken Beaulieu describes himself as an unselfish player

A basketball player capable of performing every aspect of the game, and doing so admirably, is hard to come by. Most players tend to specialize in one or two areas—some are dominating rebounders and defenders, others excel at the three-point shot, and some are gifted at playmaking and setting up teammates.

Rarely does a player come along who can seemingly do it all, and this type of versatility has established Ken Beaulieu, a forward on the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team, as a star and a leader.

Ken Beaulieu
Ken Beaulieu is known for his dunking. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

When asked about his adaptability, Beaulieu came off as a highly coachable and open-minded player. “In my second year, I was scoring more, but this year my coaches want me to focus more on defence and rebounding, so I’ve been working more on that,” said Beaulieu, a fourth-year player.

Beaulieu’s aptitude for all aspects of basketball helped him become one of the most heavily-recruited players coming out of CEGEP in 2014. After being named a first-team all-star in 2014 playing for Cégep Édouard-Montpetit in his hometown of Longueuil, almost every team in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) was after Beaulieu. This forced him to choose between Université de Laval, Bishop’s, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and Concordia.

Beaulieu said his admiration for the coaching style of former coach John Dore, whom he only played under for his first year, influenced his decision to play for the Stingers. Current head coach Rastko Popovic was an assistant under Dore, which helped make Popovic’s transition to head coach in 2015 easy for Beaulieu.

Beaulieu is certainly making it look easy, as his name is all over the RSEQ individual stats leaderboards this season. He ranks seventh in the conference in scoring at 12.5 points per game, third in rebounding with 7.7 per game, sixth in steals with 1.7 per game and seventh in assists with 2.4 per game. He has achieved these numbers while shooting at an impressive 61 field goal percentage. These stats illustrate just how multi-dimensional he is, while also being extremely efficient.

His athleticism permits him to be all over the place on the court.

One of the challenges that comes with being capable in every facet of the game is that, as a player, he doesn’t always get to utilize all his talents.

Ken Beaulieu
Ken Beaulieu said he is not a vocal leader, but would rather lead by example. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“My coaches right now want me to drive the basket a lot more this season, to get layups and post up, so my shot has gotten worse because I don’t practice it as much,” Beaulieu said. “It can be frustrating.”

Beaulieu said his mid-range shot is currently “nowhere to be found” and that he takes considerably fewer three-point shots, which has made his shooting a little rusty. Yet, this does not create tension between Beaulieu and his coaches, as he is happy to do whatever is asked of him.

“I’m not a selfish player. I don’t come in looking to score 30 a night; some nights it’s more about rebounding and defence,” Beaulieu said. He added how much he trusts his teammates, which makes passing a pleasure for him. “If you’re on my team and you’re open, I don’t care who you are, I’m passing the ball.”

Beaulieu said when he misses his first couple of shots, it can ruin his momentum for the whole game and affect him mentally. He was quick to acknowledge this is the biggest hurdle he is working to overcome.

“The mental [aspect] is something I’ve struggled with probably my whole career,” Beaulieu said.

Although he is not very vocal, Beaulieu is aware of his responsibility to lead his team by example. He sees a correlation between his energy and his team’s, which is why he wants to stay positive around the team on and off the court. When asked how he’s attempting to improve his mentality, Beaulieu said he reminds himself of two words he hears from his teammates and coaches all the time: “next play.”

“When you miss a shot, you can’t take it back. All you can do is focus on what’s next,” he said.

Beaulieu hopes what comes next is success in the playoffs, where he said he thinks the Stingers have a good chance of winning the championship. “We’ve beat every other team [in the conference] so far, so we know we can win,” he said.

Recently, Beaulieu was named the Concordia male athlete of the week. His performances against the UQAM Citadins on Feb. 1 and 3 helped the Stingers sweep a two-game series. He had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the first game, and was one point shy of another double-double in the second. These impressive stat sheets Beaulieu continues to produce prove why he is the Stingers’s human Swiss army knife, and why they love having him in their back pocket.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.

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