Last year's playoff exclusion is still fresh in the memory of the Rouge et Or and serves as fuel for the men's basketball program.
The Rouge et Or finished tied with Bishop's and UQAM, but were relegated to fifth and last place in a three-team tiebreaker.
The last game of the schedule between the Gaiters and the Citadins which ended in an 88 52 victory for the Mauves raised questions in the Laval camp.
“We thought we were qualified and this end of the season left a bitter taste, recalled head coach Nathan Grant, who did not want to name the two teams involved in this last game. Sunday was very difficult. We had planned a meeting to prepare for the playoffs, and some players practiced even though they knew the season was over.”
This heartbreaking elimination led to a change of mentality.
“We want to win every game,” Grant said. If we lead by 15, we will want to win by 17. We want the situation of last year never to happen again. The players have also realized that they have to give more in all facets. They have learned to maximize their time. ”
When he was hired, Grant made no secret of his lofty goals for a program that has been struggling for a decade. Is the progress slower than expected?
“It's not going slower than expected,” he assured. We need five to six years to establish our own culture, and I'm in my third year.
Winger Saydou Sall will be an important piece of the puzzle.
“We want to go as far as possible,” he said. The cohesion was not necessarily there last year and we had a difficult season. This year, we are united, and we are starting on new bases. »
In the pre-season match, the Rouge et Or presented a record of six wins and one loss, signing a victory in passing against the Saskatchewan Huskies, who won silver at nationals last year.
“Despite this win, we shouldn't get too excited,” Grant warned of the 103-95 overtime victory. We have to play better defensively. In the RSEQ, the Redbirds are the champions, and we respect them. And UQAM brought a lot of talent. It will be the two strongest teams. »
Grant has magnetized guard Ismaël Diouf and Malian center Mohamed Keita, two 6 ft 8 in youths.
“Ismaël is quite an athlete and he can do anything on the field,” said the Laval pilot. He did well against good teams in the preseason and he will start some games in the regular season. Mohamed attended the NBA Academy in Africa and played for his country's national team for the U-17 and U-19. He has a good background and will have the chance to develop here. We're going to be patient. »
A very young core on the women's side
Youth will be honored in the women's team Rouge et Or basketball team, six of whom graduated at the end of last season.
Champions for the past three years and qualified for the nationals for the past five seasons, the Lavalloises caused an upset last year by dismissing the Bishop's Gaiters in the semi-finals.
“ We have a good core, but we are very, very young, said head coach Guillaume Giroux. We will have a good future, but the present is good too. Bishop's has a team packed to win the Canadian Championship. We will try to play the spoilsports. »
A record of six wins and three losses in the preseason game, including a victory against the Queen's Gaels who finished third in the national championship last year, however changed expectations.
“ We have raised our objectives, said Giroux. We beat Queen's and offered a solid game against Calgary which will have a very good team.
Beyond the youth, the Rouge et Or are rather small at the center position.
“We're really not big. Against UQAM and Concordia who are betting on big girls inside, we will have to bet on our speed and throw well and our little girls will fight inside. Audrey Béland asserted herself more and more after playing little last year, but she is on the sidelines due to mononucleosis. »
Dominants in college
Dominant in college with the Sainte-Foy Dynamics, Sabrine Khelifi, Frédérique Beaudry-Blais and Léa-Sophie Verret will form the core of the Rouge et Or, like Élodie Lajoie.
« Frédérique et Élodie are two very good shooters whose success rate was over 40 percent in preseason games, said Giroux. Sabrine is fast and she was very impressive with the pass giving them great opportunities, but she will have to find a balance between the pass and attacking the basket. ”
Khelifi shares her trainer.
“ I will have to look from time to time for myself, she imagined with a smile, but I like to distribute the ball to Frédérique and Élodie who are among the best shooters on the circuit.
A member of the RSEQ rookie all-star team last season, Khelifi identifies the Gaiters as the target.
“Their five starters are very good as are the girls on the bench,” she said. It's going to be a big challenge, but anything can happen in the playoffs. »
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128