Stingers coaches evaluate teams at Concordia Classic

Concordia hosts annual tournament ahead of season-opener on Nov. 8

The Concordia Stingers hosted the annual Concordia Classic Basketball Tournament this past weekend, from Oct. 5 to 7. Both the men’s and women’s Stingers teams played three games in preparation for the season-opener on Nov. 8.

In the men’s tournament, the University of Waterloo, Acadia University and the University of Regina played. There were also three teams, besides the Stingers on the women’s side: University of Prince Edward Island, Laurentian University and Memorial University.

Both the men’s and women’s Stingers teams won the round-robin tournament.

Rookies like Samuel Lessard (#13) will get a chance to prove themselves to coach Rastko Popovic. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Concordian spoke with Rastko Popovic, head coach of the men’s team and Tenicha Gittens of the women’s team before the tournament. Both coaches used the games to evaluate their rosters for the season.

“There’s a lot of different factors to deal with,” said Popovic regarding the initial roster for the tournament. “It’s an exhibition and non-conference game, so we’ll see what we can learn.”

Popovic also said he wanted first-years to get some playing time to evaluate them.

“For those first-year guys, you just expect them to go out there and play hard,” Popovic added. “They’re going to make mistakes but it’s important to get experience and playing time.”

On the women’s side, Gittens has been focused on defence during training camp, and that didn’t change this weekend.

“Right at this point, it’s the same approach as the summertime,” Gittens said. “It’s not the time already to revamp anything or scrap our whole [game plan]. Nothing is final for our lineup and the players have to prove to me they deserve to be there.”

Gittens also wanted to make sure her players used this tournament to feel comfortable at home, and as a way of preparing to defend their home court come the regular season.

“This is our house,” she said. “We have to win those games we’re supposed to win. We always talk about it, we have to protect our house.”

For the men’s team, Popovic was not able to use his full roster due to injuries that are already plaguing the lineup.

“We’re not going to be at full strength until around Christmas,” Popovic said. “We’ll have a much better idea then and be able to play some different lineups. It’ll definitely help us see where we stand before the season starts.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.


Stingers teams both win Concordia Classic tournament

Myriam Leclerc and Adrian Armstrong won tournament MVPs

For basketball fans, what better way to kick off Thanksgiving weekend than with the Concordia Classic tournament? Teams from all over Canada, including Regina, Newfoundland and P.E.I. came to participate.

Both the men’s and women’s Concordia Stingers won the tournament. The women’s team won all three of their games, while the men had a 2-1 record before Anthony Sanogo’s buzzer-beater in their final game captured the tournament win.

Women’s team

The women’s team opened the tournament against the Memorial University Seahawks on Oct. 5. They jumped out of the gate, starting the quarter with tenacious defence, allowing only one field goal in the opening six minutes of play. Combined with their ball movement, tenacious rebounding and fast break attack, the Stingers built a 15-point lead after the first quarter.

The second quarter remained the same as Concordia built on their first-quarter success. They extended their advantage to an 18-point lead with a 37-19 score at halftime.

Rookie point guard Myriam Leclerc won the tournament MVP. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Halfway through the third quarter, the Stingers took a 24-point lead, forcing the Seahawks to call a timeout. Memorial began to find their footing as their defence forced the Stingers’s ball movement and fast break offence into stagnant half court sets. Memorial shot 50 per cent from the field in the third. Led by the game-leading scorer Sydney Stewart, she finished the third quarter on a three-point play to bring the Seahawks within 11 points.

The fourth quarter was the lowest-scoring quarter of the game as both teams struggled to create offence. Stingers guards Myriam Leclerc and Coralie Dumont scored 10 of the team’s 12 fourth-quarter points to hold off the Seahawks’s late rally, and hold on to a 71-58 victory.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to get the [win],”said Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens. “They want to blow everybody out by 20; you’re not going to smack teams every night, you’re going to have to work for those wins.”

For coach Gittens, these are the types of games that are important for the growth of her team. “It was a good game for us because there was a storm to weather. They went on a run, basketball is a game of runs,” she said. “It was just about getting a stop and being disciplined.”

Men’s team

The men played the Regina Rams on opening night, winning 82-63. The game was more competitive than the final score indicates.

The tone was set in the first quarter by Stingers guard Adrian Armstrong, who made his first three attempts from beyond the three-point line. The Stingers connected on 5/12 from three-point range in the first, leading to their highest-scoring quarter of the game and an early 10-point lead.

Halfway through the second, the Stingers had a 14-point lead, but Regina’s full-court press began giving the Stingers problems. Turnovers became the story of the second quarter, as the Stingers gave up the ball six times compared to the Rams’s two. Regina had cut the host’s lead to six, but Sanogo came off the bench to score seven points in the quarter, giving the Stingers a 40-31 lead at halftime.

Regina cut the lead to five points with a bucket and an assist by Myles Hamilton in the third quarter. Armstrong continued to not only shoot the ball well, but also create plays for his teammates. By the end of the third, Concordia outscored Regina by eight to take a 17-point lead. The fourth quarter was more of the same, with Regina unable to cut the lead under 10. With two double-digit scorers and five other players scoring at least eight points, the Stingers held on for an impressive 19-point victory.

Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic praised his team’s resilience as they dealt with injuries to three of their starters.

“I thought a lot of guys that came in did a good job; a lot of young guys played,” Popovic said. “The fact that we can still win by 20 without some of our top guys shows the depth of our team.”

Armstrong had nothing but praise for his coach. “Coach Popovic always comes through with a great game plan, it’s been like that since my first year,” he said. “If anything goes wrong, just follow the game plan.”

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier. 


The Unicorns will never die

The Montreal cult band continues to fascinate us nearly 15 years after their one and only album

Once upon a time, during the magical early to mid 2000s, Montreal experienced its very own musical renaissance. To many fans and critics, it was reminiscent of the surge in Seattle grunge music, which ruled the airwaves during the early to mid 1990s. The hometown of Leonard Cohen had become the new mecca of cool, especially among indie rock enthusiasts.

By 2005, Spin Magazine dubbed Montreal “the next big thing” and The New York Times fawned over the city’s “explosive music scene.” Among the most notable bands were The Dears, The Stills, Sam Roberts Band, Stars and, of course, Arcade Fire—the band that would come to rule the indie rock music world and win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2011.

However, one Montreal-based band may seem like a mere footnote of this wondrous musical awakening, having left the party as quickly as they came. They released their one and only LP in October 2003 and, by December 2004, were no more. They were The Unicorns.

Formed in 2000, the band consisted of Nick “Neil Diamonds” Thorburn (lead vocals, guitar),  Alden “Ginger” Penner (vocals, bass, keys) and Jamie “J’aime Tambeur” Thompson (drums). When describing their debut album, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, music critics often referred to them as “goofy,” “messy” and “whimsical.” While valid, these descriptions downplayed the band’s remarkable ability to write insanely catchy hooks and melodies that resist the standard verse/chorus/verse structure. The jangly indie-pop trio had an experimental streak, but they still evoked a familiar feeling. Above all, their tracks were truly an extension of their unique, hilarious personalities.

Few songs about dying and the fear of it are as fun as the LP’s opening track, “I Don’t Wanna Die.” The album also includes a few eerily beautiful, synth-heavy 80s songs that would fit seamlessly into a Stranger Things episode, notably “Tuff Ghost” and “Inoculate the Innocuous.”

“Sea Ghost” kicks off with perhaps the greatest recorder solo ever—it’s a standout track that encapsulates the chemistry between Thorburn and Penner. “Jellybones” is an example of the band’s ability to mix and mash different tempos and genres on a single track. “The Clap” stands out as the heaviest song on the album, illustrating how The Unicorns were willing—and able—to be much darker stylistically. “Child Star” is the most melancholy track on the album, a reminder that, despite their cartoonish antics and lyrics, this was a band capable of creating beautifully layered tracks.

“I Was Born (A Unicorn)” begins with a charming guitar riff accompanied by the simple, steady and heavy beating of a snare drum. This leads to a chaotic chorus of instruments and an amusing exchange between Thorburn and Penner, singing “we’re The Unicorns / we’re more than horses.” They literally whine their way to the end of the song.

The album closes out with the anthemic “Ready To Die,” which foreshadowed the band’s eventual breakup a year later, announced by a simple message on their website: “THE UNICORNS ARE DEAD, (R.I.P.).”

With lyrics that hover between morbidly curious and fantastically silly, this group’s manic energy and the sheer undeniable catchiness of their tunes have made The Unicorns a cult band. While many of their indie rock contemporaries have reached dizzying heights or terrifying lows, The Unicorns came and went like a shooting star, without ever disappointing us. Now that’s a unicorn indeed.

The Unicorns Who Will Cut

Our Hair When We’re Gone?

(Alien8 Recordings, 2003)

“I Don’t Wanna Die”

“Tuff Ghost”

“Ghost Mountain”

“Sea Ghost”


“The Clap”

“Child Star”

“Let’s Get Known”

“I Was Born (A Unicorn)”

“Tuff Luff”

“Inoculate the Innocuous”

“Les Os”

“Ready to Die”


Stingers fall short in Concordia Classic

Concordia lost to a powerful Brock Badgers team in the finals of their home tournament

After winning their first two games, the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team lost to a talented Brock University squad in the finals of the Concordia Classic tournament. Led by fourth year forward Dani Elgadi, the Badgers defeated all three opposing teams and put on a shooting display every time they set foot on the court. Elgadi also took home the most valuable player trophy.

Despite the loss, Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic was proud of his team’s effort, although he said the team had issues when it came to starting games off slow.

Popovic added he was happy with the performance of rookie forward Olivier Simon, who was named to the tournament’s all-star team.

“I think the world of Olivier Simon. He just comes in everyday works hard and listens,” Popovic said. “I always tell our players you got to be a hundred per cent coachable. The effort and the attitude is there. He’s just showing how good he can be.”

Fourth year guard Ken Beaulieu was also named to the tournament’s all-star team. Beaulieu, who maintained an average of 15 points per game in the tournament, explained how he got his points.

“I’m just trying to find the easy buckets, find the open guy and go to the basket, stuff like that,” Beaulieu said. “Sometimes my teammates tell me to take more shots.”

The Stingers started their tournament against the Nipissing University Lakers. Both teams started out sluggish and neither could get an offensive game going. By halftime, both teams had combined for a 39.34 shooting percentage from the field. Going into halftime, the Stingers trailed by four points, 35-31.

“I don’t think the energy was there at the beginning of the game,” Popovic said.

The Stingers were a different team in the second half. They outscored their opponent 40-31 with 10 of those points coming from turnovers. They were able to pull away and won the game 81-69.

In the second game, the Stingers played Cape Breton University. Cape Breton came out of the gate hard, as the team scored the first 10 points of the quarter. However, the Stingers were able to answer back in a wildly contested half that saw several lead changes. Both teams had the lead at times and exchanged baskets. The Stingers came out of the half on top with a 38-37 lead.

The Stingers will now head off to Prince Edward Island for their next tournament.

In the second half, the Stingers managed to hold the visitors to a field goal percentage of 16 per cent to secure their second win in a row.  The final score was 75-53.

In the final game against Brock University, the Stingers were no match for the team’s powerful offence. Elgadi made 15 out of 20 shots from the field and scored 36 points en-route to a 95-78 victory over the Stingers.

“He’s one of the best players in Canada and he showed why today,” Popovic said. “We didn’t defend him how we were supposed to defend with what we had in the scouting report.”

After finishing as runners-up in the tournament, Popovic explained what his team needs to do to be better in the future.

“We got to defend better for 40 minutes. We got to play harder for 40 minutes,” Popovic said. “We have to execute the gameplan. We got to make other guys beat us instead of the top scorers.”

The Stingers next game is on Oct. 14 in the first game of the University of Prince Edward Island tournament.


Stingers dominate to win Concordia Classic

Concordia won all three games on their way to their tournament victory this weekend

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team entered the Concordia Classic tournament with big expectations and did not disappoint, winning all three games in dominant fashion. The Stingers were crowned champions when they beat the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 62-41.

“We played well but it’s still very early in the season,” Stingers assistant coach Natasha Eadie said. “We will celebrate then let it go and it’s on to the next one.”

Three players from the Stingers, forward Richelle Grégoire, forward Marvia Dean and guard Caroline Task were named to the Concordia Classic all-star team. Dean took home the most valuable player award.

Dean was a force throughout the tournament on both sides of the court. The freshman credited her teammates and the amount work she put in training camp for the award.

Task, another first year player, did very well providing steady offence for the Stingers. She finished the tournament averaging 13 points per game, shooting 7 for 16 from the three-point line.

“We’re very pleased with the newcomers,” Eadie said. “It’s a jump in the caliber of basketball and they are adjusting very well.”

None of the teams the Stingers faced posed a threat as they collectively maintained a field goal shooting average of only 31 per cent for the entire tournament. The Stingers showcased their depth as a team, something that was missing last season. They were overwhelmingly defensive and were able to create turnovers which led to more points on the board.

The Stingers opened their tournament against the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Panthers. Last year’s Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) leading scorer, Grégoire put up seven of her game high 21 points in the first quarter, helping the team to a 19-13 lead after one quarter of play. However, with six minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Panthers cut the deficit to three, making it a 24-21 game.

This was the closest the Panthers would get to tie the game as the Stingers relied on their defense to pull away and won the game 72-51.

The Concordia Stingers won all three game en-route to their Concordia Classic victory. Photos by Ana Hernandez

“We were very intense, we want to run with the ball and you can’t run [with] it when your defense is not tight,” Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens said.

The hosts put forth their best effort in the second game when they faced the University of Guelph Gryphons. The Stingers dominated every phase of the game en route to a 68-39 win. The Gryphons had no answer for Dean who went 8 for 12 from the field for a game-high 19 points. She also grabbed 13 rebounds adding two blocks and four steals. The Stingers had everybody contributing offensively and held the Gryphons to 16 points in the first half.

The Stingers played the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees in the finals. Much like Guelph and UPEI, the Gee-Gees were unable to find a way to stop the Stingers. After a scrappy first five minutes of gameplay, the match broke open when Task scored after receiving a full-court outlet pass from guard Jazlin Barker to give the Stingers a 17-10 lead.

The Stingers then went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter and never looked back, winning 62-41. Grégoire and Dean led the charge with 13 points each, leading the team to a Concordia Classic victory.

According to Eadie, the tournament win shows the team is close to where they want to be for the beginning of the regular season on Nov. 10.

“We’re still preparing but once the season starts we will be ready to go that’s for sure,” said Eadie.

The Stingers will play their next game on Oct. 21 at Carleton University in the first game of the McKeen Metro Glebe Tournament.

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