NPH CIS Preview: Laval Rouge et Or
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Head coach: Jacques Paiement Jr
Assistant coaches: Jacques Paiement Sr, Pascal Lehoux, Frédéric Giguère, Mehdi Stambouli
2011-2012 Record: 5-11 (RSEQ)
Key Players: Karl Demers-Bélanger, Thibaud Dezutter, Boris Hadzimuratovic, Joakim Longpré, Hugues Ryan, René-Pier Mathieu
- Khaled Amrani
- Laurier Beaulac-Dufresne
- Antoine Beaumier
- Karl Demers-Bélanger
- Édouard Langis
- Joakim Longpré
Departures: Étienne Labrecque, Xavier Baribeau, Christian Deslauriers Trottier
With the departure of three veterans and the arrival of the seven rookies, the Rouge et Or exit one cycle and start a new one. That’s one of the first things that Laval head coach Jacques Paiement tells NPH. “We want to create a more stable program here at Laval,” he says, “a program that isn’t so reliant on such cycles.”
Étienne Labrecque, Xavier Baribeau and Christian Deslauriers Trottier have graduated after all three played important roles in the previous five years with the Rouge et Or–they’ll be hard to replace. But on the bright side, plenty of players will have the occasion to do just that as Laval welcomes seven new players for the 2012-2013 season. “I think they will bring a new energy and a new spirit to our program,” Paiement says. “But for some time, there might be inconsistency.”
Karl Demers-Bélanger and Joakim Longpré, two of the seven rookies, will start as the team’s new backcourt. “We have asked a lot of Karl (Demers-Bélanger), and we have given him a lot of responsibilities so far,” Paiement says. “He’s been our most consistent player in the preseason and has exceeded our expectations.”
Two of the other three starters, last year’s RSEQ rookie of the year Boris Hadzimuratovic and Thibaud Dezutter, are sophomores and happen to be other key players as well. “Thibaud (Dezutter) is versatile and is great defensively,” Paiement says before adding that he was Laval’s best player in its three preseason contests against Buffalo, Northeastern and UNLV this past August.
A young team like the Rouge et Or typically experiences growing pains. To help that, Paiement will adapt the team’s style of play–one which, he says, will be “more aggressive, more athletic and of a quicker pace.” It could prove fruitful. “We will have many players who are productive,” Paiement says. “We will have great depth.”
However, Paiement recognizes that Laval has possible weaknesses beyond its lack of experience. “We need to learn to play more consistently with regards to our execution,” the head coach says before adding that he thinks that his team has a chance to be better than it was last season defensively and on the boards.
That said, there will be no shortcuts for the Rouge et Or. “I think we have the chance to be very competitive by the time the playoffs start,” Paiement says. “We want to build for the future, but we will not compromise it for better short-term results.”
One thing that Paiement wouldn’t mind to compromise–and this is par for the course for all of the RSEQ coaches–is a 5-team major conference in Canada. For him, the only good thing that comes with the RSEQ is the short playoffs. In Quebec, a team only needs to win twice in order to qualify for the CIS Final 8. “But otherwise, there are very, very few positives,” he says.
The Laval Rouge et Or is a young team, but sometimes youth isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes, you’re just young enough to foolishly believe that you’ll be able to overcome everything. And if you believe that, it just might happen.