April 26th, 2016
What's up everybody! I've been so swamped that I just noticed I haven't done a blog entry since December, but during the season I definitely have a more important job coaching my team. This past season is one that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I learned an unbelievable amount during my first year as a collegiate head coach.
When I first got the job at UQAM and moved to Montreal in June, our program was in very difficult shape coming off a 6-20 season in 2014-15 (and 5-26 the year before in 2013-14). The culture of the program had to be changed DRAMATICALLY and a ton of work had to be done to get things moving in the right direction. This 2015-16 season was one where myself, our coaching staff, and our team learned a lot of lessons and grew together tremendously. It was extremely stressful, emotional, and trying at times, but also very enriching, exciting, and strenghtening. The summer, fall, and first semester could be described as a period of dramatic shake-up where the program had to be stripped to the frame and torn down before it could be built back up. After bringing in 9 new players, instilling new expectations, new offense, new defense, and a new culture of discipline, with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears along the way, we completely changed the direction of UQAM Basketball!!
The first players to fully buy-in to me as the new head coach and my philosophies were our 2 best players, Kewyn Blain and Greishe Clerjuste. I was extremely lucky to have these 2 guys in our program as they fully embraced our program's new culture, set an excellent example for the rest of our guys, and grew into phenomenal leaders! They learned a great deal in our October trip to Xiamen, China for the FISU World University 3x3 Championships where we won a Gold Medal representing Canada! Our team's direction truly took a huge turn after Christmas when I had to make the difficult decision to release 2 of our most talented players, Rudolphe Joly (who went on to sign with the Windsor Express of the NBL Canada) and Jude Molin, who both did not meet the new expectations for our program. At the same time we added Charles Miller, a transfer from NCAA D2 Upper Iowa University, and Julien Girard from France. These 2 guys infused a new energy and were perfect additions to our team due to their passion for improvement, their love of the game, and their high character...all things that are embodiments of my philosophies as a Coach.
The end result of the hard work, passion, commitment, and belief that our 2015-16 team showed was a record of 19-15 (a +13 Win improvement from the 6-20 record of 2014-15), UQAM's first playoff appearance in 3yrs, and a run to the RSEQ Championship game (first time since 2010) where we fell just short versus McGill on their home floor. The highlights of our season were a Triple-OT Win vs Laval 98-97 on Jan 30th, an 82-78 OT Win vs McGill on their home court on Feb 4th, and a 70-63 Win vs Concordia in the RSEQ Final 4 Semi-Finals! We also made history with Kewyn Blain being voted as the RSEQ Player of the Year (1st time in UQAM history), CIS First-Team All-Canadian (1st time in UQAM history), and a First-Team RSEQ All-Star! Greishe Clerjuste was also voted as an RSEQ Second-Team All-Star.
I couldn't possibly be PROUDER of the progress our team made over the course of the year and the growth that each individual made as players, students, and people. It was a year that laid a foundation of excellence for the UQAM Basketball program going forward, and now we have to continue to progress and work harder than ever to take the next step as a program. I'm truly thankful to our players for sticking with the process and continuing to work hard and give 100%, my coaching staff who did a great job this season in helping me to execute my vision, and to the UQAM administration for giving me my first collegiate head coaching opportunity!
The future of UQAM Basketball is BRIGHT going forward!! Here is a photo recap of the 2015-16 season that I will truly never forget: