On August 25, the Concordia Stingers Men’s basketball team opened their 2014-15 season at home in a preseason tilt against NCAA opponent Fordham Rams (Atlantic 10 Conference). Two days later the Stingers continued their early season action against another NCAA opponent in the Loyola Maryland University Greyhounds (Patriot league). The new look Stingers return only six players from last year’s team that lost in the RESQ semis to the Bishop Gaiters and will depend heavily on fifth year guard, Mukiya Post and third year forward, Mike Fosu for their leadership. The Stingers unfortunately dropped both games to their friends across the border, losing 70-48 to the Fordham Rams and 72-49 to Loyola
First game: Fordham Rams vs. Concordia Stingers
The Stingers started the game off strong as forward Mike Fosu scored the first basket of the game and guard Mukiya Post added another basket to the Stingers early lead. Fordham got their offense in gear with a few minutes left in the first quarter by score six unanswered points. The Rams ended the first quarter leading 13-10 after the Stingers early 8-3 advantage.
Concordia again scored the points of the second quarter but the Rams responded with three-straight baskets by guards, Mandall Thomas, Zaire Thompson and forward, Eric Paschall. Stingers’ Mukiya Post stopped the bleeding by drilling his second three-pointer of the night to helped cut the Rams lead. The Stingers went into halftime trailing 34-20.
Fordham freshman guard Nemanja Zarkovic (Montreal, Que) continued to cause problems for the new Stingers as they ripped off a 7-0 run which was capitalized by a three pointer by forward Christian Sengfelder. Stingers’ point guard Frank Mpeck would end the quarter with a three pointer as Concordia trailed 50-31 after three quarters. The Rams continue to dominate the Stingers in the fourth-quarter as they started with yet another 6-0 run. Stinger’s forward Ken Beaulieu gave the home fans something to cheer for as he slammed home a monstrous dunk in the fourth.
The game brought the homecoming of Fordham’s point guard, Nemanja Zarkovic. Zarkovic led College Jean-De-Brebeuf to a provincial championship last season. Zarkovic was also leading scorer in the game with 16 points. Mukiya Post was leading Stinger with 12 points in the los. Ernie Rosa, Stingers Assistant coach on young Stingers team “We have a lot of young guys who are willing to learn, play hard and are willing to win.”Rosa also stated that the game was a great learning experience for his young Stingers team. Additionally, he mentioned that NCAA teams are bigger in height and also quicker and faster. Stingers guard, Mukiya Post was positive after the loss “We have a lot of growing to do, but it is not bad place to start”.
Second game: Concordia vs. Loyola Maryland Greyhounds
Loyola held the Stingers scoreless for the first seven minutes of the quarter and produced a 9-0 run and never looked back as Stingers forward, Xander Jean would put Concordia on the board with a two pointer at 3:20 left in the first quarter. The Greyhounds dominated the opening ten minutes outscoring Concordia 21-4.
Stingers came out firing to start the second quarter as they scored 13 unanswered points to begin the second-quarter, both guards, Mukiya Post and Aamir Gyles knocked down three pointers. Greyhounds guard, Tyler Hubbard made his own magic with a deep three-pointer. Concordia would end up dominating the quarter by scoring 21 points. The score going into half-time was 32-25 for Loyola.
Greyhounds got the first points of the second half on basket by forward Franz Rassman. Stingers forward, Mike Fosu would respond by getting his own basket. Greyhounds’ guards, Stefano Mancini and Denzel Brito added three pointers to the big lead. Loyola ended up scoring 28 points in the third quarter to increase their big margin. Stingers got the first basket of the fourth quarter on a three pointer by forward Ken Beaullieu. The Greyhounds responded on forward, Cam Gregory second slam dunk of the game. Beaulieu get his second three-pointer of the quarter. Greyhounds ’forward, Nick Gorski would respond with his own three. Stingers scored 17 points in the quarter while Greyhounds scored 12 points.
Loyola’s forward, Cam Gregory was the leading scorer as he had 14 points in the win.Stinger’s forward; Ken Beaulieu was the leading Stinger with 12 points. Greyhounds dominated the boards with 41 rebounds while Concordia had 30. Rastko Popovic, Stingers Assistant coach described the game as tale of two stingers team,” second and fourth quarter, we played really well and beginning of the first and third, we weren’t ready to play.” Mukiya Post, Stingers guard describing his feeling after the first two games, “I see a lot of progress in the young guys so (I’m) not too worried about the rest of the season.”
Both universities went undefeated in their tours across Quebec. Fordham went 4-0 and Loyola went 5-0.
Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin
It’s around 8:30 p.m. on a frigid Wednesday in the dead of winter, and Omar Shiddo is having one of his worst games of the season.
The fourth-year Western Mustangs guard, who has drawn comparisons to Damian Lillard for his clutch shooting, has just five points in the first half of a tight game against the Guelph Gryphons.
In the second half his game marginally improves, but there are a series of missteps — layups that don’t go down, jump shots that rim out and an occasional lack of motion without the ball.
Shiddo also gets hit with a technical foul after a physical bucket he felt should have resulted in an and-one, clapping back at two Guelph players who allegedly chirped at him during the play.
This is a far cry from the kinds of performance Shiddo is known for, and light years away from the 35-point outburst he had four days earlier in an 84-79 win over rival McMaster.
It doesn’t matter — not even remotely.
Western clamps down on defence in the second half and several teammates make big shots. Shiddo helps neutralize Guelph guard Malcolm Glanville, who had 11 first-half points and showed signs of catching fire.
Shiddo finishes with 12 points on 4-15 shooting, his second-lowest total of the year. Five other Mustang players players score in double-digits, including 27 points from sharp-shooting guard Eriq Jenkins.
Western pulls away and cruises to a 94-73 victory that’s as ugly as it is decisive.
“That’s a win, boys!” someone shouts emphatically as the team gathers for a post-game huddle in the cavernous, mostly-empty Alumni Hall in London, Ont. — Western’s home court.
“Guys on my team stepped up,” said Shiddo minutes later in an interview, his soft-spoken analysis tumbling out as quickly as he jukes opponents, like water over Niagara Falls.
“The second half was more of other guys doing their thing and me not having to do as much scoring, which I love to do. It’s all about team … we got a big win.”
Shiddo is unquestionably a leader — and on most nights, the most effective offensive weapon — on a Western team loaded with potential.
In his tenure, the Mustangs have been as good as they have been in a decade, with a legitimate chance to challenge for a berth in the U Sports Final 8 — Canada’s version of March Madness — in Ottawa.
“That’s our goal from the beginning of the year — trying to get to nationals,” said Shiddo, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., a hotbed that has produced several NBA players, including Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.
“We think we’re a top-five team in the country,” said Shiddo. “We’ve just need to continue to play like it.”
Western is ranked outside the Top 10 nationally, but has the second-best record in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), four points behind the Carleton Ravens.
They’re also first in the OUA West division, with a roster that skews relatively young: Seven of the 12 players are freshmen or sophomores.
Nikola Farkic, a 6-foot point guard from Waterloo, is team captain and Jenkins (Windsor, Ont.) is arguably its most reliable three-point threat. Veteran forward Julian Walker (Barrie, Ont.) anchors a front court with considerable promise, thanks in large part to lean, athletic second-year players Aaron Tennant (London, Ont.) and Ukasha Khan (Brampton, Ont.).
“A lot of stuff goes unnoticed on the stat sheet,” said Shiddo. “But we’ve got a full team and we’re 10 deep. Everybody plays their role. We’re not a team where it’s one guy.”
He’s right. This win over Guelph is proof enough of that. And yet in crunch time, Shiddo has a penchant for taking over games, Lillard-style, and making big shots.
It has become part of Western lore.
When Lillard puts a team on his back and wills it to victory in the fourth quarter, fans and media call it Dame Time. When Shiddo does this, it’s #Omellytime.
Shiddo showed hints of his #Omelly mentality early against Guelph. After Western fell behind 10-2 in the first quarter, his demeanor shifted from deferential to aggressive, pushing the ball up the floor and calmly making a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to six.
Minutes later, he drilled a three-pointer to make it 12-7, and attacked the basket for a layup that lingered on the rim but didn’t fall. His teammates took their cue and soon Western had its first lead of the game.
At the end of the first quarter the score was 28-28. At halftime Western led 47-46, and they never looked back.
“I’m not the rah rah type of — football type of leader,” said Shiddo. “I try to lead by example.
“Say what has to be said, and other than that just lead by example. It’s not how much you say, it’s about what you say.”
In U Sports, most teams are at the mercy of a Carleton dynasty that has won 14 of the last 17 national championships.
Western is a long shot to come anywhere near the title game this season, and Carleton is favoured to win it. When the teams meet for a regular-season tilt at Alumni Hall on Jan. 31, it will likely be for the last time.
Shiddo is nobody’s fool. He knows the odds are stacked against his team, even if he’s at his best and #Omellytime is in full effect.
His confidence is tempered with realism, but it’s still there.
“Against a team like that we’re not going to be up by one at half — we’ll probably be down by 20,” he said. “We have to play our perfect game.”
They will almost certainly not be perfect. They will almost certainly lose. And yet Omar Shiddo, the soft-spoken assassin, has a question for you.
“Why not shock the country,” he said, “and beat the No. 1 team?”
Kadre Gray wins second consecutive U Sports MVP
Laurentian guard Kadre Gray took his game to another level this season.
That’s saying something.
A year ago, Gray was the top Canadian university male athlete in any sport, the first Laurentian student to win the honour.
He led the country in assists, narrowly missed a scoring title, and — perhaps by default — also won the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as men’s basketball player of the year.
“Kadre’s work ethic continues to shine bright,” said Laurentian head coach Shawn Swords in a statement.
“He is always looking for ways to improve and refine all aspects of the game.”
If there was any doubt, Gray stifled it in his junior season.
He averaged 31 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game en route to his second consecutive Moser trophy.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment to do it once,” said Swords.
“And now, to be named MVP twice, is truly a testament to his willingness to learn and improve.
“The Kadre effect has spread throughout our community as well. It is great to see him support our local youth and realize the positive impact he has on everyone.”
Gray received the 2019 Moser trophy Thursday at a gala in Halifax, N.S., ahead of the U Sports Men’s Final 8 tournament.
University of Calgary guard Mambi Diawara, Concordia guard Ricardo Monge and St. Mary’s University guard Kemar Alleyne were also finalists for the award.
Gray was simply a cut above. He posted gaudy stats with notable efficiency, shooting 48.8 per cent from the floor.
He was also a First Team All-Canadian and played with Canada’s national team in FIBA World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil.
Gray was the only U Sports player to participate in the qualifiers.
Other award winners:
Rookie of the Year (Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy): Alix Lochard, UQAM.
Ken Shields Award for Student-Athlete Community Service: Tanner Graham, Queen’s.
Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Anderson, Carleton.
Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year): Dan Vanhooren, Calgary.
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