Injuries won’t stop Nelly Owusu from playing basketball

Recruiting is essential for university sports teams, as in most cases, student-athletes play about four or five years with their team before graduating.

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team recruited great talents from college in the past years––Nelly Owusu being one of them.

Owusu played basketball for Dawson College in division 1 of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) before playing for the Stingers. She was one of the best players in her league, especially in terms of defence, where she finished the 2017-18 season first in steals.

Head coach Tenicha Gittens said that when she recruited Owusu, she saw a player who had explosiveness, speed and an ability to take hold off defenders.

“It was amazing,” Gittens said. “She has one of the best attitudes. She’s definitely someone you want in your locker room, and as part of your program. We just saw her being able to be very disruptive on the defensive end of the floor.”

Owusu said she decided to join the Stingers because of the team’s coaching staff. She had offers from other places, such as McGill University and Bishop’s University, but Owusu said the coaches made her choice easier.

“I think it’s important to have a great coaching staff who believes in you and has your back,” Owusu said. “It’s important to know that your coaches not only care about you in terms of basketball, but also for your future. They’ll be around for the four-to-five years that you’re here.”

Owusu admitted she thought that the university basketball experience would be similar to when she played in college, but she quickly realized the difference in speed, strategies and talent level.

“At Dawson, we would [practice] an hour and a half, but it’s like two and a half hours here,” said Owusu. “It’s being able to remember everything, and apply it in the games. I thought I would be playing against all those same players that I played against in college, just like I played the same players in college that I played before in CEGEP.”

Gittens said the coaching staff was looking for that kind of defensive support when Owusu started with the Stingers. Owusu’s defensive game, as well as the little things she was bringing on the court, pushes her teammates to be better.

“When she first came here, it first took her like two games to kind of get the hang of it,” Gittens said. “Her ability to single handle defensively was what we were looking at. She was our leader defensively.”

Owusu has faced some challenging moments since her university debut. Unfortunately, two injuries slowed down her development, including an ACL tear. The point-guard said it was a frustrating moment, as it was her second ACL injury.

“I came in every day, and came at practice every day even if I couldn’t do much,” said Owusu. “I came back again for preseasons, but dislocated my shoulder. I really love basketball, and have played it for a long time. It was really demoralizing [to get hurt again], and be cheering from the bench once again. My experience [so far] includes a lot of determination, pushing and mental strength especially.”

Gittens said it’s hard to describe Owusu’s development so far because of her injuries. However, she thinks her defence has been an important part of the Stingers’s game since her arrival.

“When she’s really locked in, it opens up for more offensively. Nelly is more than just what you see on the scoresheet,” Gittens said. “On paper you’ll see steals, but you won’t see deflections. You won’t see that she created the steal. She was on her way to challenge Myriam [Leclerc] for rookie of the year, just based on what she was doing defensively. It was really exciting, and allowed us to play and do our thing.”

Owusu is obviously aware of her defensive talents, saying that she really likes the satisfaction of when she stops opponents, and does all those little things you won’t necessarily see on the scoresheet, but are as important as the baskets scored by the offence.

“When you get to lock down some specific players, for example the best players of the other teams, you feel that strength in you,” Owusu said. “I know that defence is important, even if a lot of people mostly just think about the amount of points and things like that. I feel like that low-key part is my best asset.”

With five games left to the team’s regular season, Owusu wants to improve her decision-making. She likes to attack the basket and shoot the ball, but is aware she sometimes needs to analyze the play better.

“Most of the time, all I see is the basket instead of looking around me and being aware of where the [opponent’s] defence is, or where my teammates are,” Owusu said. “If I’m not patient and not making the right decision, I can [make us lose possession]. If I do my job on defence, that’s fine, but if I can’t do it on the other end, than it won’t help the team.”


Photos by Cecilia Piga


Stingers 74, Citadins 54: The Stingers avenge their loss against the Citadins with a convincing win

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins battled for a third straight game on Sunday afternoon at the Concordia Gym. The Stingers avenged their loss from Jan. 8 with a convincing 71-54 victory.

It was the Stingers’s annual Shoot for the Cure game. Since its first event in 2007, the campaign has raised more than $1.3 million. The Shoot for the Cure game is part of the eight Signature Series events presented by the Stingers in 2019-20.

The Citadins got a good start in the first quarter, taking an early 10-point lead. However, the Stingers gained momentum at the end of the quarter and never let the visitors control the game again. Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens said the team just kept things simple.

“Our players listened,” Gittens said. “They just executed the game plan, and took advantage of their [Citadins] mistakes. I think we did a good job on both ends of the floor.”

The Stingers scored 27 of their 71 points in the second quarter, taking a 40-28 lead at halftime. While it was the most points that either team scored during any quarter of the game, Gittens said she didn’t think that quarter secured her team the win.

“I think that we played a very good game overall,” Gittens said. “You can win the second quarter and lose the game. You can say that it started through the first quarter. We picked it up, and were able to score and do things defensively. We put four quarters together.”

Gittens said her team was undisciplined when it lost its previous game to the Citadins. She said her players weren’t intense or showing energy.

“Those are things we can control,” Gittens said. “That’s one thing to play a great game and just lose. That last game, we didn’t play the way we’re practicing, and preparing every single day. This last Thursday and Friday at practice, it was as intense as if we were playing like today.”

Stingers’s point guard Caroline Task scored 26 points in the victory, in addition to grabbing four rebounds. Gittens said it makes other players’ jobs easier when she plays that well.

“Myriam Leclerc had to do a lot on the offensive end of the floor, in terms of executing and getting people to the right place,” Gittens said. “It makes a huge difference when Task comes in and delivers shots like that. Our players did their job [today].”

The Stingers will play McGill on Jan. 23 at the Concordia Gym. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m.


Stingers men’s basketball team ready for the second part of the season

The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team is back from holiday break and looking forward to continuing a good start to the season.

The Stingers’s last Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season game dates back to Nov. 30. However, the team remained active by playing a tournament in Halifax at the end of December. Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic said at this level, teams don’t have much time to rest during the season.

“We usually have a little break of about a week at the beginning of December for exams,” Popovic said. “We then practice and have a few days off before Christmas. We were back practicing again on the 26.” Popovic said the Stingers flew to Halifax on Dec. 27 for its tournament. The team then played three games from Dec. 28-30, registering two wins.

“It’s a very short break of about six school days off that players get before Christmas, but that’s about it,” Popovic said.

The Stingers won four of their first five games of the 2019-20 season, and are currently ranked second in the RSEQ behind McGill, with one game in hand. The team also had a 4-1 record after five games in the 2018-19 season.

“The McGill game was a close game all the way until the end,” Popovic said. “It’s a good start to the season, with two good wins against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins. Obviously, after losing Ricardo Monge last off-season, we kind of had to get used to playing without him.”

Monge was the point-guard, team captain, played his fifth and final season with the Stingers in 2018-19, was named the MVP in the RSEQ and received all-Canadian honours.

The transition period for the point-guard position was a bit tough at first for the Stingers. The team played exhibition games before the RSEQ season, but had to deal with injuries. Popovic said it was an adjustment for his team and the young players coming in. However, he said the team is satisfied with what came out of the first five games this season.

“We understand that our league is very competitive,” Popovic said. “There won’t be any easy game during the second semester. We have to get ready [for all of them]. Our next six games are against UQAM, McGill and the Bishop’s University Gaiters. Those will be six very competitive games. Those teams all played during Christmas time and got better.”

Popovic said that, since the start of the season, the coaching staff has been stressing a lot on making the right plays on offence, and sharing the ball.

“We don’t care who scores,” Popovic said. “We just want them to get the best shots as possible in every position. We want to eliminate turnovers. Early in the season, we turned it over too much. I’d say that right now, it’s a great overall team effort. Defensively, we’ve been pretty good, especially at understanding what we want to do against each team. However, there are still a lot of games left, so there are many things we want to get better at.”

Last season, forward Sami Ghandour missed the first two games of the season following a shoulder surgery. Ghandour is an important part of the team and is recognized for his energy on and off the court. This season, the forward was in uniform for the first five games of the season, having registered 58 points, and is tied for first in the RSEQ in rebounds, averaging 8.4 per game.

We call Sami — what we call in basketball terms — a glue guy,” Popovic said. “He’s not the one who will score 25 points per game. However, he does a lot of little things for us. He communicates and knows where to be on the court. Every team needs players like that to be successful. We’re looking forward to a big second semester for him.”

The Stingers only played five games but some players are already leaving great impressions on the court.

“Nathaniel Boisvert is playing a decent role for us,” Popovic said. “I also think Tariq Barki-Hamad has played well as a backup point-guard. We need these guys to come in and play well. We’re hoping we can get contribution from everyone, and that they can keep improving because it will make our team better. When you’re a young athlete coming in this league and playing minutes right away, you have a lot to learn. When players like Bryan Coriolan and Adrian Armstrong will graduate, we’ll need these guys to step in and play big minutes for us.”

With 11 games left in the season, the Stingers aren’t looking too far ahead. Popovic said the team simply wants to focus on itself.

“It’s going to be one game at a time, with one practice at a time by trying to get better,” Popovic said. “We already know our opponents, as we played them before.”



Feature image by Laurence B.D.


Photo Spread: Stingers basketball teams sweep UQAM in home opener weekend

Exit mobile version