The journey to repeat as RSEQ champions is well underway for the no. 7 ranked McGill Redmen, who looked to stay undefeated in conference play during their home opener against the Concordia Stingers on Thursday evening. The Redmen fought through a tough and physical game but never relinquished the lead en route to an 80-62 victory.
The Redmen had no shortage of scoring, topping their season average against an aggressive Concordia defence. Freshmen guard Dele Ogundokun set the pace with a season-high 16 points and nine rebounds. Ogundokun also led the game in both steals and assists.
“[I was] just finding my teammates and shooting when open,” Ogundokun said after his breakout performance. “[I was just] trying to do the best things for the team.”
His efforts didn’t go unnoticed—Head Coach David DeAveiro commented on the freshman’s stellar showing after the game.
“Dele was fabulous for us,” DeAveiro said. “He made big shots and hustle plays today.”
The team’s bench contributed 29 points, led by Brazilian centre Rodrigo Imperador who tallied an efficient 11 points in his 12 minutes on the court.
The team’s emphasis on protecting the paint paid off as the Redmen out-rebounded the Stingers 62-42. Freshman Francois Bourque pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds and ended the contest one-point short of his third career double-double.
DeAveiro was impressed with the team’s ball movement in light of the Redmen’s a season-high 24 assists.
“I think that when we are successful in games it’s because we are moving the ball and sharing the ball, [so] everyone’s a threat,” DeAveiro said.
The ball seemed to constantly run through captain Simon Bibeau’s hands. The fourth-year guard accounted for five assists, and fortified the Redmen’s lead after Concordia went on a run late in the third-quarter. According to Coach DeAveiro, McGill’s response to Concordia’s 12-point run was a crucial moment in the game.
“We knew they were going to make a run at some point,” DeAveiro said. “I thought the thing I was most proud of was that when they got [the margin] down to eight we brought it right back to 16; we scored the next eight points.” The team showed their ability to cope with adversity, which will be needed in their upcoming game against Bishop’s.
Coming off last season’s success, DeAveiro knows the magnitude of this next game against Bishop’s University.
“[They’re] the team I predicted to win the conference,” DeAveiro said. “It’s going to be another dog fight […] but if we play hard, I think we have a chance to be successful.”
Ogundokun echoed DeAveiro’s statements. “I’m excited to go head-to-head against the other top team in the conference.”
Ogundokun and the rest of the young freshmen—there are currently nine rookies on the roster—are going to need another spirited performance if the team wants to stay unbeaten. With three first-years starting Thursday’s game against Concordia, Coach DeAveiro acknowledged the tough situations he had put his freshmen into.
“We’ve been throwing them into the fire and they’ve been responding,” DeAveiro said.
With this many new players being worked into the rotation, it should scare opposing teams to see that the Redmen are undefeated. After the game against Bishop’s University, the team will go on Winter break before returning to Love Competition Hall to play Laval on Jan. 9.