Wednesday, May 30, 2007


The Stingers moved on to the semi-finals of their Beer Sheva tournament today, with a 52-40 win over yet another Israeli university team.

Quite frankly, there have been so many local teams here that I'm totally blanking on the name of the team they beat... Again, questionable officiating, and two teams that spoke different languages... not the best combination...

Concordia is now 5-1 on its Israeli road trip, with the semi-finals and championship game both scheduled for tomorrow.

The Stingers (Team Canada at this tournament) will face Serbia in the semis.
The teams met on Monday, with Serbia winning 59-57 in a physical game that nearly saw two brawls start up.

Since then the Stingers have picked up a little Serbian, only it has nothing to do with the Serb basketball players.

It's actually thanks to the ridiculously tall Serbian women volleyball players, who are also in Beer Sheva for the athletics competition.

Let's just say a number of Stingers have gotten to know a few of the volleyball girls.
Having said that, I realized the other day that I am covering the wrong sport here.

So the Stingers play Serbia tomorrow, the same Serbs who danced around center court after beating Concordia in the round robin... they may want to take a lesson or two from Dancing With The Star's Clyde Drexler who will be in Tel Aviv this weekend for a basketball clinic.

As for the volleyball girls, they've told the Stingers they will be at the basketball game... no word on just who they will be cheering for... stay tuned....


Mentioned in a previous post that the Stingers travel very well.
Pre-season trips to the U.S. have become a yearly fixture on Concordia’s schedule, with visits to Duke and Connecticut ranking among the best.

According to Coach Dore, a preliminary U.S. tour has been set for next season, with road games against Vermont, Arizona, Northern Arizona, Rhode Island, and Maryland.

Both the Arizona Wildcats and Maryland Terrapins are NCAA tournament-regulars, with the ‘Cats having won the national title in 1997, and the Terps in 2002.

Last year the Stingers played two games in thin-aired Colorado, before returning east to face Rhode Island and Vermont.

May sound expensive for a relatively small athletic department like Concordia’s to send its basketball team across America, but if anything, it’s a money-maker.

The Stingers receive appearance fees for the games, all of which take place during the NCAA’s pre-season (Division I programs cannot play other D-One teams until mid-November).

Certain games have even seen the Stingers collect payments of five-figures U.S.


Figured I’d take the chance to introduce the Stingers, seeing as I have been, and will be, referencing them throughout the blog (blog was just underlined on my Microsoft word spell check… apparently it is not a real word):

The Stingers themselves went 15-1 in the Quebec University Basketball League this past season, before sweeping through the playoffs and earning the provincial title.

As the top-ranked team in the country heading into the national quarter-finals, the Stingers season came to an abrupt end with a 62-61 loss to 8th-seeded St. Mary’s.

Coach John Dore:
In his 18th season with the Stingers, he is the brains behind this trip to Israel, and I am convinced that there is not one person in the basketball world that he does not know.

Making his fourth visit to Israel, Dore has been here before with Canada’s Macabee Basketball Team, and for coaching clinics.

His relationship with Atlanta Hawks owner Ed Peskowitz led to Concordia’s being invited to next week’s Friendship Games from Tel Aviv.

#3 Levi Vann- Transfer student from Saskatchewan… likes to shoot long distance
#5 Damian Buckley- Considered one of the top point guards in the country
# 11 Pierre Thompson- Only 19 years-old, the 5’11” point guard is finishing his 2nd year
#14 Sebastien Martin- Teammates call the Granby native the hardest working rookie
#15 Andre Johnny- Concordia’s first-man off the bench this year, should start next season
#22 Desmond Murphy- Big man out of Dawson should has increased playing time on trip
#23 Dwayne Buckley- Quebec Conference Defensive Player of the Year
#33 Patrick Perrotte- This marks the end for the 5th-year-senior, and all-Canadian
#35 Jamal Gallier- The 6’7” big-man out of Toronto, is the team’s starting centre


I was supposed to come on the Drive Show with Mitch, Rod and Andie late last night (yesterday afternoon back home)

Forgot to give Rod the country code on the phone number… that was my bad…
The phone number is 16 digits long… I was bound to screw it up!

I spent the night here in Jerusalem, which really is a great city.
Very much like Rome, it has such a rich history, as you walk by buildings and landmarks that literally go back thousands of years.

At the same time, just turn a few corners, and there you are shopping in a Nike store and eating McDonald’s. The contrast in Jerusalem between ancient times and modern-day activity is truly unique.

It’s a beautiful city, built primarily with bright gold Jerusalem stone that always seems to be worth a picture when glowing in the sun.

Visited some family I have at Hebrew University, and walked down to the historical sites of the old city, including the Western Wall.

Also made to Ben Yehuda Street, a tourist trap I’ll admit, but always fun to visit.
Ben Yehudah is just a few blocks from the old city, and is lined up with souvenir stands and shopping.

I went there for the food though :)
Nothing like some local cuisine and a greasy Shawrma-laffa filled with French fries and hot sauce. As is the case with most cities and their specialized food, seems to me that here in Israel, the dirtier the place, the better the Shawrma.


The Stingers improved to 4-1 in round robin play today at the Beer Sheva Athletics Tournament, thanks to convincing wins over two Israeli teams, and a forfeit by a third.

Coach John Dore relied heavily on his bench players in a 58-20 win over Sapir College,
meaning more playing time for, among others, Sebastien Martin of Granby, and Beaconsfield’s Desmond Murphy.

Both first-year players are among those benefiting the most from a trip like this, after spending much of this past season at the far-end of the players’ bench.

Only nine Stingers made the trip, and each player has seen significant playing time in every game.
“If we weren’t here playing, we’d be at home working out anyways,” Murphy says. “This gives us the chance to build as a team, and better ourselves for next season. Not everybody gets that chance.”

Fifth-year Senior Patrick Perrotte is the only player on the trip who will not be back next season, and the consensus is that this is an ideal off-season training camp, looking towards next year.

The Stingers also beat Israel’s Wingate College 71-41 today.
Wingate had a 45-point win earlier in the day against Ashkelon College, and when you put those scores together, nobody had to tell Ashkelon that they didn’t stand a chance against Concordia. They said so themselves, choosing to forfeit.

Add it all up, and the Stingers finish round-robin play in Beer Sheva with a 4-1 record, heading into tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

With the afternoon off, I’m heading to Jerusalem where I’ll be spending the night.
Jerusalem has to be one of my two favourite cities in the world, right up there with New York, although the two are much too different to really compare.

The Stingers meantime are doing a little touring of their own visiting Masada this afternoon.



The Stingers trip to Israel was sold as both a basketball and educational experience.
On the first day of competition in Beer Sheva they had both.

There was the basketball- two games, played back-to-back.
And there was the education, coming in the form of a hard lesson that the Stingers can’t afford to take any team too lightly.

On the first day of round robin play, the Stingers beat the host team Ben Gurion University 66-44, only to follow it up with a disappointing 59-57 loss to Serbia (Concordia is known here as Team Canada).

The competition does in fact seem to be below what the Stingers are used to, but that may have led to some overconfidence on their part.

Concordia came into the gym, with a look and swagger that no other team could match.
Complete with its warm-up suits, and pre-game rituals, the Stingers looked like pros.

None of that seemed to matter though against a Serbian team that just wouldn’t go away.
They got in the Stingers’ heads thanks to a physical game, combined with shoddy officiating.

Twice it appeared that a brawl could breakout, onlookers having to come in from the sidelines to break players apart.

I quickly realized why so many fights and controversies take place in international hockey.

Get two competing teams who don’t share a common language, and bring them to a foreign country. Throw in a pair of referees who also don’t speak the language of either team, and you’ve got yourself the recipe for disaster.

To the Serbs credit, in typical European form they were able to shoot the ball very well.
Three straight three-pointers in the final 90 seconds proved to be the difference.

Stinger coach John Dore was not amused, suggesting that after a weekend in Tel Aviv, some players had forgotten the true purpose of their trip.

The players themselves were equally frustrated with the loss, and are already looking forward to a rematch.

Following the win, the Serbs danced around center court, while the Stingers could only sit and watch.

“Remember this feeling,” Dore told his team. “Don’t let it happen again.”

Monday, May 28, 2007


You may have heard that the popularity of basketball is growing worldwide, and today the Stingers saw that first-hand.

The Concordia team arrived in Beer Sheva this afternoon, and held a two hour basketball clinic for more than 150 kids aged 10-14.

The gym was packed.
Sure there were language barriers, and no, the teacher-student ratio wasn't ideal, but none of that seemed to matter. These kids, a number of them wearing NBA jerseys, were just happy to be playing basketball, something that more and more Israelis seem to be doing these days.

Stinger point guard Damin Buckley was particularly impressed with the discipline and attention-spans of the young athletes, saying that it made it easier to teach them.

"We've had clinics back home where parents just drop off their kids and nobody really cares. Here it seemed the kids really wanted to learn," Buckley said.

The Stingers were looked upon as basketball heroes, and the kids couldn't get enough of them.
Most of the clinic partipants stuck around after the session to collect autographs, something that even the Concordia players said was a little overwhelming.

"I remember when I was small, and whenever a group of tall guys would come to teach us basketball, you were always excited," said fifth-year Stinger Patrick Perrotte. "It's a chance for us to put a smile on their faces, and it's good for Concordia to be a part of that."

Stinger Coach John Dore, who has run clinics as far away as Japan, was also impressed with the large turnout. "To have this many kids show up on a Sunday afternoon (the start of the work week in Israel), says something about the interest level in the sport."


Among those in Israel who have witnessed the growth of basketball is Coach Israel (like the country) Baruch.

Baruch has worked in Beer Sheva for ten years, having coached the city's professional team since it was created four years ago.

"There used to be a menatility here that Sports wasn't in the Jewish culture," Baruch says. "It was more about business and mathematics, but some of us wanted to take more pride in athletics."

Baruch says that a number of factors combine for basketball's increased popularity in Beer Sheva, including the growth at the grass-roots level, and the success of Israel's professional teams.

"There was never a tradition or history of basketball here, so it was hard to get the engine going," says Safy Benny, the head of Beer Sheva's youth basketball program.

And making it more difficult says Baruch, was a lack of leadership.
"The coaches did this as a hobby. Some of them held mutiple jobs and coaching was never really a priority... kids notice these things."

Attitudes have changed since then, and Baruch points to the pride many coaches now take in their position. "They won't introduce themselves by their first names, or as Dr. so-and-so. Instead they say 'I'm Coach so-and-so.' It's something to be proud of."

Baruch says that with the proper coaching now in place, the next step is to introduce youth basketball (think teenagers) to trainers and athletic therapists.

And in trying to encourage young athletes to choose basketball in what remains a soccer-crazed country, it certainly helps when these kids have professionals they can look up to.

Israel's Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin made the headlines last summer, when they became the first two Israelis selected in NBA Draft history.

Eliyahu and Halperin remained in Israel this past season, but both are expected to negotiate shortly with their NBA rights holders, the Houston Rockets and Seattle Sonics.

"When the kids can see a Lior Eliyahu and the success he's had, it gets them thinking that anything is possible," Baruch says. "It gives them somebody to identify with, and that has never been the case before."

"The whole culture has changed," Safy Benny says. "The professional players in Israel used to be looked at as just ordinary basketball guys. Now they're looked at as celebrities. It's a very big deal."

The Stingers see their first competition tomorrow with two games in the 39th annual ASA Tournament. Concordia is using this week's tournament in Beer Sheva as a warm-up for next week's Friendship Games from Tel Aviv.

We will be staying here until Friday.

Sixteen teams are competing in this tournament, including groups from Serbia and Estonia. In addition to Concordia, the remaining 13 teams are all from Israel.

Feelings are mixed about the competition heading in.
Some of the Stingers expect a significant drop from what they are used to, while others worry that they could be in for a surprise.

Coach John Dore has been told that the skill-level at next week's Friendship Games should be similar to a low Division-I or a high Division-II team in the NCAA.


The Stingers first full day in Israel was spent here in Israel.
No basketball just yet, as the team continues to adjust to a seven-hour time difference.

There was an early-morning run however, both on the beach and on the boardwalk.
I took part in the run and kept up just fine, but let me tell you, running on the beach, on the soft sand, is no picnic- not for me or any of the Stinger players for that matter.
Very tough on the legs. It's like running with weights attached to your calves.

Looking forward to another early-morning run tomorrow though.
Coach John Dore insists the runs are early in order to avoid the extreme heat that sets in before lunch. The players though see it differently and say they can read the message- behave at night so they can survive the morning run. You can be the judge on that one. Curfew tonight was at 12:30.

Saturday in Israel is traditionally the least active day of the week, with much of the country in shutdown mode because of the weekly Sabbath.

Due to the Sabbath, weekends are a little different in Israel, beginning on Friday afternoon and lasting until Saturday night.

For most Israelis, Sunday is the first day of the week, with a regular workday for professionals and a full day of classes for students.

Tel Aviv however is among Israel's most secular cities, and it remained lively today on this "day of rest," with plenty of traffic both on the streets and on the beach.
'Rest' and 'Tel Aviv' should never really be used in the same sentence anyways.

A number of Stingers were in fact were woken up in the middle of the night, with music and car horns filling the air at four a.m. It seems in Tel Aviv there is neither a drinking age, nor a standard closing time for its watering holes.

We made it to the beach today around lunchtime, taking a much needed dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Not a cloud in the sky today and temperatures in the high 20s. We've been told to expect warmer weather in the next few days.

There was also a walking tour of Tel Aviv today, as well as the neighbouring city of Jaffa.
Jaffa's history is said to go back at least 5000 years.

Tomorrow we leave for Beer-Sheva, a sister-city of Montreal.
Montreal has raised over the years, significant funds to help build the Israeli city and its establishments. It is common for elementary school students to have pen pals in the sister-city, and many high school students visiting the other country, are housed in the sister-city.

The Stingers will remain in Beer Sheva until Friday, as they participate in a warm-up tournament leading into next week's Friendship Games.

This 16-team tournament includes Concordia, teams from Serbia and Estonia as well as 13 Israeli-based teams.

The tournament gets underway on Monday.
No doubt the Stingers can hardly wait to get on the court.

Said 5th-year Stinger Patrick Perrotte today, "I'd rather run like crazy with a basketball, than run like crazy just to run."

We'll check in next from Beer Sheva.

TEL AVIV- 10:00 PM Israel Time (May 25)

I always knew that John Dore's Concordia Stinger Basketball team travelled well.
Scheduled games against top NCAA programs have become an annual tradition- a 2005 visit to Duke University, no doubt among the highlights.

But when I heard the news last month that this year's Stinger team was heading to Israel, I knew immediately that this would be something special.

A Concordia team... heading to Israel!
I wanted to be there.

Hey, as a Concordia alumnist (as of a month ago anyways), the former beat writer for the basketball team, and a regular visitor to the state of Israel, it seemed to make perfect sense.

I needed about 25 things to fall into place, but sure enough, here I am in Tel Aviv... using the internet on the Shabbos no less!

The inclusion of this blog on, was just one of those (approx!) 25 things I was looking for, and here's hoping that I can use the next 10 days to give Team990 listeners, and readers, a feel for the Stingers experience in Israel.

The question most often asked in the lead-up to this trip, was how did it happen.
Coach Dore says he was invited by Atlanta Hawks owner Ed Peskowitz to participate in the second annual Friendship Games (, and quickly worked to raise the necessary funds.

The Friendship Games is a one-week basketball tournament based out of Tel Aviv, with 30 teams from 17 different countries. The idea is to promote peace through sport, and organizers in fact got more than they bargained for in last year's inaugural event.

One of the final pairings featured a team from the Palestinian Authority against a team of Israelis, and to the surprise of many cynics, the game was in fact well-played, and widely considered a huge success both on and off the court.

The Stingers are the only team from North America in this year's tournament, further proof that basketball is in fact growing as a global game.

Still, the Stingers weren't going anywhere if they could not raise enough money.
Unlike most Division-I schools in the NCAA, Canadian universities are not exactly sitting on piles of money at the athletic department's disposal.

It therefore becomes an issue at Canadian universities when one sports team is alloted money by the school for special trips while others are not. The need to find outside financers becomes critical.

As a result, the Basketball team spent much of its off-season collecting money for this trip, including a number of fundraisers with Concordia's Hillel Chapter.

Coach Dore was particularlly grateful for private donations that made their way from acorss the country, all of which made it possible for the Stingers to arrive in Israel earlier today, May 25.

The Stingers will remain here until June 9th, and I will be with them for the majority of their stay.

Looking forward to using this blog to introduce the Concordia Stingers, one of Montreal's best kept sports secrets, and to track their experience in Israel.

The sports scene in Israel will also come into play, as will a number of the tourist attractions the team will be visiting.

There is some serious jet lag among all of us, having missed out on Thursday night's sleep, thanks to a seven hour time change.

The team has a 9:00 a.m. run tomorrow on the beachside, and I'll actually be giving this one a shot... should be interesting!

We'll check in over the weekend and throught next week as well.