If Laval Rouge et Or head coach Jacques Paiement Jr. has his way, his team will win the RSEQ this season.
Laval Rouge et Or
Head coach: Jacques Paiement Jr.
Record in 2014: 9-7 (Second in RSEQ)
Playoffs: RSEQ semifinals
Points scored per game: 69.5
Points allowed per game: 69.3
Key players: Karl Demers-Bélanger, Thibaud Dezutter, Alexandre Leclerc
Key losses: Boris Hadzimuratovic
Welcome to Quebec, where each of the five teams play the four others four times each. Ah yes, we know that routine; every season, it’s the same one. “The more the season progresses, the more it becomes a question of toughness and character,” Laval Rouge et Or head coach Jacques Paiement Jr. says. “Everyone knows everyone, and it’s not necessarily with new strategies that you gain an advantage. Though with that too.” Such a conference schedule has at times been held against RSEQ champions, but Paiement believes this season will change the way the Q is seen. “The team that emerges from Quebec will be competitive against any other team in Canada this season,” he says. “The key will be to prove it on the floor.” And to do it in Quebec first.
Key games: VS Concordia Stingers, Nov. 13 and Jan. 8
VS McGill Redmen, Jan. 16 and Feb. 19
Jacques Paiement Jr. speaks with NPH only about a week after his team’s return to Quebec City after a visit to China, where the Rouge et Or played 10 games in 20 days against professional teams. The team loved it, he says, because “it gave us the chance to experience something unique.”
It wasn’t exactly his plan to organize the trip this season precisely, but he thinks the timing was perfect. “Our team has matured and we were ready for this,” the head coach says. “In our journey and for our preparation, it’s turned out to have been super positive.”
Because this is the season to which the previous few have led. The head coach is the first to admit that the previous seasons have been frustrating. “We certainly didn’t play up to our own expectations,” Paiement says. “It’s taken us a little longer than I hoped to achieve the results I have come to expect.”
Laval will rely on team depth and on the lessons they learned in China to improve in 2015-16. “We have many players that have excelled individually,” Paiement says. “Now I think they’re ready to bring it all together as a team.” And what the Rouge et Or lack in height on the front court (following Boris Hadzimuratovic’s departure), they will make up for with team speed and athleticism.
Pavement believes any success Laval has will come from the usual suspects that are Thibaud Dezuetter, Karl Demers-Bélanger and Alexandre Leclerc. He says that, “Our objective is clearly to emerge out of Quebec and go to the national championships.”
And to show the rest of Canada what’s what.