Men's Basketball 2013 Outlook: Concordia Stingers

Some RSEQ teams tipped off 2013 on the weekend, but not the two we'll be recapping/previewing in this series, who coincidentally face each other on Thursday this week to resume their conference schedule. Up first, the Concordia Stingers.

Record: 3-2 conference (3rd, RSEQ), 8-5 overall, +2.9 SRS (17th in CIS)

Offensive/Defensive Efficiency (CIS Rank): 96.6 ORtg (25th), 89.1 DRtg (6th)

First half highlights:
  • A 28-point win over Laval.
  • Reasonable success in the face of serious roster turnover.
First half recap: With Decee Krah gone to graduation and Kyle Desmarais out due to academic ineligibility/a knee injury, the Stingers have had to re-write the script to the success they've had in recent years. They've become an elite defensive team and have managed to put themselves in position to challenge for the QUBL title with McGill. Of course, the first semester includes all of five conference games, so we won't know if they're for real for a while yet.

What makes them good: Defensively, the Stingers have been fantastic. They've been able to keep teams away from the free throw line (just 0.18 free throws per field goal attempt, sixth best in the country) and held opponents to 31% shooting from three. That's an efficient, sustainable defence and bodes well for the Stingers' contention hopes. Individually, defending league MVP Evens Laroche has been solid if unspectacular, with 14.2 points per gane, 7.2 rebounds and a 22.5 PER. Second year guard Jerome Blake has been productive (16.0 PPG on a 23.1 usage rate, the same as Laroche), though somewhat inefficient with a 37.3 FG%.

What they need to improve on: Concordia really misses the shotmaking ability of Desmarais, a former league MVP himself, and Krah. Thus, their offence has struggled to transition, shooting 39.2% as a team and just 28% from three. They could start by cutting down on turnovers (with a per-possession rate of 22%). One would think the percentages should come back up a bit, especially as the team gets more and more used to life without Krah and Desmarais, but the facts are simple: Concordia simply needs to score more to give themselves a chance at making the Final 8.

Goals/Outlooks/Scenarios: The good thing for the Stingers is that, well, their division just isn't very good. McGill has slowed down from their hot start, and there's nothing to suggest Concordia can't take control of the division. There's still a very good chance for Laroche to lead this team back to their third straight Final 8, and fourth in five years.
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