One of the more colourful characters on the CIS scene over the past 30+ years has been Eddie Pomykala, the long-time Head Coach at Bishop's who guided the small Lennoxville, Quebec based school to their only CIS National Championship in 1998. Pomykala recently retired from the coaching ranks but remains very close to the CIS men's game and we are grateful to be able to share his insights into the Quebec league (with this and other future posts) plus, we hope, other writings that should no doubt add to his legacy that continues to elicit the nickname "The Book" from his contemporaries.
2011-2012 Quebec University Basketball Men’s preview ( RSEQ)
The road to the nationals in the Q still has to pass through Concordia. John Dore’s Stingers have jumped out to a 3-0 first place record after end of November play and are poised to defend their 2010-2011 conference championship. While many critics point to the lack of teams in the Q – the truth is none of that matters in March. Whoever gets out of the Q can be the spoiler in a one-and-done tournament. The Q’s past performance in the final 8 attests to that. Teams in the Q can defend, are athletic, attack the glass and give bigger opponents match-up problems. This is a guard’s league for the most part with non traditional line-ups. Let January league play begin!
Concordia Stingers: (8-3)3-0 RSEQ, 79.7 ppg, 66.3 against, 38 rpg., .300- 3pt fg, 10 apg, 15 to, 13 spg.
The Stingers are led by a talented trio of veterans- All Canadian 6’2 Kyle Desmarais leads the league in scoring at 17.0 ppg and goes to the boards at a 6.3 clip. Desmarais takes it to the basket with authority and confidence- the ball will be in his hands when the Stingers need something to happen. 6’2” Evens Laroche is one of the quickest leapers in the country. His play around the basket belies his size- he is tough and has great instincts for the ball. Laroche averages a league second best 16 ppg and rebounds at 6.3 per game and 4 steals per game! 5’10” sharpshooter Decee Krah averages 13.0 per game but can explode with deep range. Krah is a game changer for the Stingers- he can be quiet one half and then before you know it – he has knocked down a bunch of treys. The Stingers lineup will get a huge boost when 5th year 6’5” James Clark returns after missing the whole 1st semester play with a wrist injury. Clark can give the Stingers a decent scoring threat in the post and experience as a defender. The 2011 CCAA MVP, Jerome Blake (Vanier College), is a lithe 5’10” guard who has come off the bench to score 7.3 ppg and is the heir apparent to Decee Krah’s role as a scorer. In Clark’s absence, Coach Dore has shifted 6’3” Jean Moussignac into the starting line-up as the point guard- the 3rd year player has responded well averaging 6.3 ppg, playing tough defence and distributing the ball. 6’7” Zach Brisebois adds toughness on the boards and is the starting post- his numbers are 4.0 ppg and 6.3 rpg. 6’1” Morgan Tajfel is underrated and executes his role very well averaging 6 ppg. 6’3” Frank Fiola- 4.7 ppg. gets limited minutes but has the raw ability to come and make a difference in any game.
While, in my humble opinion, the Q is a wide open league- the Stingers are the team to beat because they play with consistent toughness and execute their game plan better than the other teams at this point in time.
McGill Redmen: (6-8) 3-2 RSEQ, 64.4 ppg; 59.6 against, 37.8 rpg; .291 3pt fg; 9 apg; 20 to, 5.6 spg.
Coach Dave DeAveiro put together an extensive pre, pre-season NCAA schedule, raising eyebrows after defeating his last two D1 opponents (Niagara and New Hampshire) and optimism was very high among Redmen ranks. Then super 6'2" soph Simon Bibeau goes down with a season ending knee injury in October and suddenly the Redmen have to scramble to formulate a new game plan. One that is minus a player who not only shoots it exceptionally well but brings so many intangibles to the table. The Redmen roster is numerous and there are many players who are competing to fill Bibeau’s void.
Coach DeAveiro stresses defense and now looks to second year 6’4” point guard Karim Sy-Morrisette to lead the way. The former Dawson College Blues standout has been delivering the goods playing close to 35 minutes a game leading the team in scoring (13.8) rebounding (5.8) and assists (4.0) as well as being the best on the ball defender on the team. Now who else will step up for the Redmen? 6’7” Tristan Renaud-Tremblay originally transferred in to McGill from D1 The Citadel. Tristan had some huge games in the summer time NCAA exhibition series- this needs to be translated into league play where the wiry post scores at 10.4 ppg and grabs 5 rebounds per contest. Heralded freshman 6’4” Vincent Dufort (10.8 ppg; 4.8 rpg) leads the team in shots taken from his off guard spot indicating he has ability but he has also needs time to develop an all around game. 6’3” Kansas native, Winn Clark is a slasher and can really finish in transition; he scores at an 8.6 rate and grabs 3 rpg. 6’6” Nic Langley has always had the label of having loads of potential- Bibeau’s absence from the line-up is a great opportunity for him to step up and deliver the goods. 6’6” Cody Mazza-Anthony (3.2 ppg; 2.6 rpg) and 6’5” Aleks Mitrovic ( 3.8 ppg; 3.6 rpg) provide depth up front and have good futures ahead of them. 6’4” freshman Te’Jour Riley has the athleticism to break into the lineup and be a tough matchup at the wing.
This squad needs a shooter to open up the floor. The Redmen have game experience getting such an early start to the season, now they have to find more ways to score while defending the basket as well as they have been doing.
Laval Rouge et Or: (4-7) 2-2 RSEQ, 71 ppg; 73.5 against, 31.3 rpg; .390 3pt; 9 apg; 18 to, 5.4 spg.Coach Jacques Paiement Jr. has to be happy about how well the R&O are shooting the ball from the outside- 39% from the 3 leads the league by far! There are issues on the defensive end and on the boards but this is a young team upfront. You don’t lose 57 points per game from graduation and attrition and not feel the effects of it. The reason for optimism on the Ste. Foy campus is the late summer addition of CCAA All Canadian 6’8” Boris Hadzimuratovic (Cégep de Saint Foy) who has instantly become a double-double threat averaging 14 ppg and a league leading 9.5 rpg. Big Boris is the foundation that the Rouge et Or will build upon. 5th year point guard 5’7” Xavier Baribeau loves to shoot the three, 9.8 ppg but he must feel a little different not having graduated scoring machine JF Beaulieu-Maheux coming off multiple screens to throw it too. Baribeau is the set up guy and the key to making their offence go. Another freshman has also impressed- 6’3” Thibaud Dezutter is strong and athletic and is contributing scoring 13.5 ppg along with 4.5 boards. The guy that can make a real difference with this team however is 6’6” fifth year Etienne Labrecque, who has the talent to be one of the 5 best players in the league. Labrecque (9.5ppg; 3.3 rpg) has been hampered by injuries and illness and must be healthy to give his teammates the consistent scorer they need. This guy did not get a D1 scholarship without having ability in the first place. 6’1” fifth year Christian Trottier (8.5 ppg) can stretch defenses with his long range ability but as a veteran needs to provide a little bit more. 6’4” second year Hugues Ryan is a talented wing and averages 8.5 ppg. 6’8” import from France, Antoine Guilard has made an impact averaging 23 minutes per contest and has potential to be a key contributor.
This team is learning how to play with many new faces albeit talented ones. Consistency with health issues, boards and ability to defend will decide the R&O fate in 2011.
Universite de Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) Citadins: (4-5) 2-2, 60.5 ppg; 59 against, 34.2 rpg; .230 3 pt, 9 apg; 18 to, 7.0 spg.
This is the Jekyll and Hyde team of the Q. How these Citadins can hold McGill to 35 points one week and then give up 70 to the same team the next week certainly perplex Coach Olga Hrycak who enters her ninth season at the helm of les Citadins. But defense is not a problem with this athletically talented squad. Outside shooting, however, has been. So who has to rise up? The Citadins feature one of the most physically gifted players in the Q, 6’5” Gregory St. Amand is a high riser who averages 13.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg. St. Amand is capable of much more and the offense has to go through him. Is there anybody in the league that works harder than 6’4” Eric Cote Kougnima? Game in, game out this warrior leaves it all on the court averaging 10.5 ppg and a league second best 8 rpg. He also distributes the ball and just wants to win. 6’5” Kevin Bitondo jumps out of the gym can make a difference on the court and is averaging 8.5 ppg and 5 rpg. The enigma is 6’8” Vincent Lanctot-Fortier who has all the skills and is a potential go to player. Fortier averages 6.3 ppg and 4.8 boards. More big man help is on the way as heralded 6’7” Philippe Tamba has recovered from a hamstring injury in October and can make a splash. The injury bug has taken freshman point guard Ouicem Maatoug out of the line-up but now has opened up playing time for Jesse Mermette. 6’3” Thierry Justin has to find his confidence because he is the top outside threat- he scores at 6.5 ppg. 6’5” Alexandre Bernard is a workhorse who attacks the offensive boards and scores 5 ppg and grabs 3.5 rpg.
Bottom line, there are enough players on this roster to be able to compete in every game. How the point guard issue is dealt with and how well this group can improve outside shooting will determine their standing.
Bishop’s Gaiters: (5-6) 0-4 RSEQ, 58.5 ppg; 73.5 against, 34.8 rpg; .290 3pt, 8 apg; 20 to, 8 spg.
A solid pre-season non conference schedule that produced 5 wins over quality schools suddenly reversed fortunes when league play began. So how do the Gaiters re-group? Obviously, they need to regain their confidence but more importantly each player needs to pay more attention to detail. Coach Rod Gilpin brought in 4 new players this year to a team that does have talent. They also have size and athleticism- there is reason to be optimistic. 6’7” Tim Hunter is in his 4th year and has to be THE guy- a role he is accepting more readily. Hunter was coming into his own in the pre-season and then suffered an ankle sprain first league game in. Hunter does so many things for the Gaiters and they need him to do those things if they are to compete. Freshman Mukiya Post is a 6’4” wing with tremendous potential as a shooter/scorer averaging a team leading 12 ppg. Like most freshman, he has to learn “when to hold them and when to fold ‘em.” 6'2" Onnex Blackwood is the transition guy but he also goes to the boards and averages 11.8 ppg and a team leading 7.3 boards playing out of the 2 spot. Sean Monplaisir is a 6’1” third year point guard who scores at a 9.8 rate and is the floor leader. 6’10” Mike Andrews holds the x factor for this team. Who will he become? He has some of the tools needed to dominate but size alone doesn’t get it done. Averaging 6 ppg and 6 rpg, Andrews has to “play like its practice” and be fundamentally sound. He holds the key and Coach Gilpin is hoping he turns it hard in 2012.4th year Jeremy Leonard-Smith can be extremely valuable guarding the opponent’s top scorer and hitting on balance shots- he averages 3.5 ppg. 6’5” first year Mitchell Pierman (4.7 ppg) is a pure shooter with a great attitude. 6’3” Adam Spurrell has been fighting injuries but will also figure in the mix, as will 6’8” Matt McLean, wings Patrick Kabongo, Ridolphe Aristil and point guard Scott Ring.
Before this team can win on the court, it has to win each day in practice. Paying attention to small details, forging an identity and trusting each other will turn this team around. Their team motto: “we/me” is a great place to start.