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July 17, 2018 | Basketball (M)

NCAA basketball teams at Concordia in August

The 2018-19 Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team will start the new season by hosting three games versus NCAA Division 1 opponents in early August.

The games will feature the Ole Miss Rebels on Monday, Aug. 6, the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks on Sunday, Aug. 12. All three games will tip off at 7 p.m. at Concordia gym. The teams will follow FIBA rules.

“This gives us a chance early in the year to see where we stand and how our vets have improved in the off-season,” said Stinger head coach Rastko Popovic. “These games also let us take a good look at our incoming players and give them some playing time at a high level.”

Ole Miss is the most recognizable team coming to Concordia. The Rebels posted an overall win-loss record of 12-20 last season. They were 5-13 in the SEC. But Ole Miss has reached the NCAA tournament eight times and the team reached the Sweet 16 in 2001. The most recent appearance came in 2015.

The Rebels return seven lettermen from last year’s squad, including three of their top four scorers in Terence Davis (13.8 ppg), Breein Tyree (10.8 ppg) and Bruce Stevens (10.8 ppg). They also bring in seven newcomers, five freshmen and two junior college transfers, that will look to make an impact on the floor.

“Ole Miss is the biggest name of the three,” said Popovic. “There’s a new coach and a lot of new recruits. They are expected to be better than last year. I’m sure there will be a lot of energy with a new coach and a new approach. It will be a very competitive matchup.”

Local fans can expect to see a lot from veteran Stingers Ricardo Monge, the starting point guard and team captain, shooting guard Adrian Armstrong and power forward Olivier Simon. Also, keep your eye on rookie Samuel Lessard, an under-rated player from Collège Momorency who could be the recruiting steal of the year in Quebec.

“He’s a six-foot-three forward from division 2 basketball,” Popovic explained. “He is very athletic, very versatile. He can dribble, shoot and rebound.”

South Carolina State and Maryland Eastern Shore both compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Bulldogs were 10-21 overall and 6-10 in conference play, while the Hawks posted a 7-25 overall record and went 3-13 in MEAC competition.